Returns from the margins: Little Edie Beale and the legacy of Grey Gardens | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 2, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2044-2823
  • E-ISSN: 2044-2831



Too often, innovation in style has been thought of in terms of either top/down or bottom/up movements of ideas. The continuing interest in Edie Bouvier Beale of Grey Gardens as a style innovator is an opportunity to question this orthodoxy. This article seeks to understand the myriad ways in which Edie challenged the rules of acceptable behaviour and dress. It also deals with her recent recuperation and rehabilitation into a cultural icon. Edie’s image has come to us via numerous reiterations, beginning with the Maysles Brothers’ 1975 documentary Grey Gardens. It is through these retellings that Edie as a creative force has recirculated and gained mythic status. Edie played with inversion of categories, and bodily and geographical zones: wearing too-small skirts upside down; cardigans wrapped as turbans around her head; bedspreads as dresses; the American flag as shawl; and her favourite – accessorizing a bathing suit with pantyhose, pumps and skivvy. In life, Edie’s unconventionality threatened to consume her; in death it has brought her a measure of immortality.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...
  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): Bouvier; costume; Edie Beale; Grey Gardens; inversion; marginality; Maysles
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a success
Invalid data
An error occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error