Courtney Love on Birkins and Sex

Courtney Love talks Marc Jacobs, Kurt Cobain, drugs and haute couture.

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Love is candid about the times she’s battled drugs — which was twice — but says she was “really, really unwell for about a year,” which is, ironically, when most of the photographic evidence on the Internet is from. On a crusade to change the misconception the public had about her, Love took action. She called a bunch of companies, but upon finding out it would cost nearly $50,000 to edit each Google Image page, she had a plan B:

“I’ve always been fashion obsessed — and I don’t always get it right,” Love readily admits, explaining that her knowledge of actual clothing and costuming was from three years of intensive work as a wardrobe assistant on films (she had a stint at Paramount) and television shows with actresses such as Rita Moreno, Faye Dunaway, Kirstie Alley and Farrah Fawcett in the mid-Eighties.

A proud owner of three Cristobal Balenciaga gowns, Victorian and Edwardian pieces that date back to the mid-19th century, Chloé dresses from the early Seventies when Karl Lagerfeld was at the helm of the label and so much Rick Owens it could make one’s head spin (she was one of the designer’s first clients in the mid-Nineties when he was based in Los Angeles), Love is a longtime clothing collector. Calvin Klein was the first person to give her free clothes, but it wasn’t until 1997 that she owned her first piece of couture, a floral, Empire-waist creation given to her by John Galliano.

“I went to whack it with scissors because it would be more useful that way,” Love recalls. “And this is 1997 couture crepe Galliano. Somebody said to me, ‘You aren’t whacking s--t and this is why,’ and explained to me what couture was, because I had no clue what couture was, or resort, and I didn’t know what A/W meant. I didn’t know any of that stuff in the Nineties, but I knew what a peplum was and the difference between silk crepe between the 1940s and today.”

She does reference the time in 2007 when she made the colossal fashion misstep of donning a faux-Chanel-couture dress to Paris Hilton’s birthday party — but she’s since been forgiven by the fashion house and Lagerfeld himself. Apparently, Love plucked the offending dress from her closet (it was gifted to her), but she had no idea the black-and-white creation was an imposter until she arrived at the party. “It was a scandal, the Chanel police were after me,” Love recounts. “But want to know what Karl did? He flew me to Paris, basically forgave me, had me pose for Harper’s [Bazaar] naked and covered in pearls and said to them, ‘The poor thing doesn’t know what couture is.’ This is L.A., I didn’t know!” The designer wound up giving the rock star the real dress and let her run through the store.

Since then, Love has become a dedicated member of the fashion fold and credits her Birkin bag as one of the reasons she’s eschewed the “kook” — the wacky, eccentric way of dressing for which she was once synonymous — for a palette heavy on neutral creams, taupes, ivories, black and navy. “I got my first Birkin at age 45. It’s kind of tragic when you think about it. Next Birkin I’ll go to Paris and order it myself,” she says. “It’s sort of like diamonds, though. Do you buy it yourself or do you let someone buy it for you?”

She insists that in the six months since she’s started toting the luxe bag that it’s caused her to conduct herself with the utmost decorum. “Having a Birkin even makes you read every part of the Emily Post etiquette book.”

Another reason she gave up the kook is Lady Amanda Harlech, muse to Lagerfeld and one of Love’s “favorite people on the planet,” who she “worships because she jogs in sweats,” who saw — and judged, with reason — the singer in one of her “kook” ensembles last year, a tutu and a Twenties flapper dress. According to Love, the conversation went as follows: “She said, ‘What are you doing in a tutu?’ and I was like, ‘Um, I have a record coming out.’ And I got this talking-to from the Kaiser and Amanda, and they were like, ‘You’re 45, what are you doing?’ And they were right. So I went and had Sally Hershberger cut all my extensions out.”

Love said that one can’t wear a tutu and a Birkin, and she’s probably right.


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