“Happy belated birthday, Julie Anne. (May I say, it feels so weird calling you by name, and remembering the first time I learned it. I believe it was via a People magazine, w/ your wedding pics in it, and there was a photo featuring a shiny black dress with a plunging back-line(?). You were sporting a whole lotta back. 🙂 ) -Sunshine RetroSunshine”

Night and Day

Dresses by Bruce Oldfield and Jean Paul Gaultier

Sunshine was referring to the dress Bruce Oldfield designed for the 1985 Pirelli Calender. We had been invited to the Pirelli party by legendary photographer Norman Parkinson. BTW, Nick and I would have attended the opening of an envelope if Parks and his wife, Wenda, invited us! We knew it would be a guaranteed evening of fascinating conversation, deep belly laughs, and the kind of intoxicating glamour that followed Parks, a man who literally redefined fashion photography, everywhere he went.

Julie Anne and Nick Rhodes“Getting behind my man… “

When the auction was about to begin, Parks whispered in my ear “please sit the other side of Wenda, and catch her arm, so she does not bid on every single dress.” The problem was, no one was on arm duty for me! One look at Bruce’s superbly sequined dress with the tire tracks and dramatic low-cut back, and my hand shot up before I could even think about what I was doing. Wenda went home empty handed that night, but I ended up with a dress that wiped out my entire savings account.

I wore the dress to the opening of Nick’s show for his book, Interference, at the Hamilton Gallery completely unaware that the weight of the sequins had caused the dress to slip and reveal a glimpse of my back cleavage. Needless to say, the paparazzi went nuts, and my derriere made it into newspapers and magazines around the globe. My father was appalled by the indiscretion, “daughter, would you please cover your arse from now on!”

Victoria and Albert MuseumSir Roy Strong on behalf of the V&A

I didn’t mind, the dress was a show stopper, I got to wear Princess Diana’s favorite designer, and I have to admit it does give this girl from Iowa quite a thrill to know that a dress I once wore now resides in the archives of the great Victoria and Albert Museum.

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