When I happened upon a documentary about Andy Warhol's once superstar actress, Candy Darling, I became obsessed. A stunning throwback to Marilyn Monroe, and a trailblazer for what we now know as trans women, Candy was caught between two moments in time. As with most of his other protégés, this story of a Warhol Factory actor started and ended very tragically.
Born James Lawrence Slattery in Forrest Hills, Queens, child to a mother bookkeeper and a violent alcoholic father, Candy explains that she always s felt as though he was trapped inside a man's body. She begins cross-dressing at an early age and at the first opportunity she finds, Candy moves to New York in the early 1960's in search of acceptance and love (eventhough at that time, it was illegal to cross-dress in New York state -- she ends up spending several nights in jail). Eventually Candy decides to pursue acting and meets Warhol in 1967 at an after-hours club.
For the next few years, Candy becomes one of Warhol's prized possessions starring in several films including Flesh and Women In Revolt. Despite all of this acclaim, Candy writes in her diary about the hardships of couch-surfing, of trying to date men and women and failing at both, and about her rejection by her family.
But as was typical with most Warhol stars, Candy's flash in the pan in short-lived. Even though she later goes on to star in some Hollywood and international movies alongside A-listers Jane Fonda and Sophia Loren, her fans eventually move on and she is left all alone to suffer through lymphoma to which she succumbs in 1974 at the ripe age of 29.
What inspired me for the Fall/Winter 2014 collection was her courage to be different, her sadness, her perseverance, her gender-bending, her brazenness, and her old world glamor style which was so reminiscent of my all-time favorite, Marilyn Monroe.