Byrdie Bell is a little anxious. In just a couple of days she will be moving to Los Angeles to pursue her acting career. But it’s not the industry that’s freaking her out, nor the move – I’d personally be petrified to relocate out there – it’s the packing. “Deadlines are like death to me,” she shivers. “It can stir up the worst kind of anxiety in me but now that that’s over I’m gone with the wind.” The contents of her West Village apartment are boxed, sealed, taped and stacked. It’s the point of no return. Or is it…? “It’s ambitious but I want to be back at least once a month,” she reassures herself. “I love New York too much to be away from it for very long.” It’s always been a childhood dream of the 27-year old, Chicago-bred model/actress to live in Los Angeles, and now that work is requiring her to be out there more frequently, she figured it was due time. She’ll be living in Hancock Park with her boyfriend, music producer, Aqua, in a modern, sun-flooded loft, “the complete opposite of my pre-war in New York and that’s what I’m most excited about – changes all around!”
Byrdie loves vintage. I wish I could rummage through her boxes, but I’d risk sending the poor girl straight to the doctor for Xanax. So instead we go shopping – it’s a nice little distraction. We meet at One Model Management on Bond Street and make our way down Lafayette Street to Amarcord, one of my favorite vintage stores. Byrdie goes straight for the rock ’n roll/hippie pieces: a white fringed leather jacket, a black motorcycle vest, white bell bottoms and a leopard print bustier. I don’t mean to point out the obvious, but isn’t that the kind of stuff girls in LA wear? Is LA style seeping into Byrdie’s pores already? “Funny you ask that,” she laughs, “because I can already feel it happening and its terrifying me! I trust my friends will keep me straight.” I do my share of rescue therapy by putting her in a bright yellow Chanel jump suit, a pink Leonard gown and a YSL polka dot two-piece! Crisis averted, temporarily.
Not surprisingly Byrdie names Michael Jackson and Patti Smith as her style icons, and describes her daily outfits with just two words: “clean” and “character”. “I never want things to look perfect,” she elaborates. “I’m not afraid of holes and stains but everything must be of good quality, look clean and fresh. I’m also not a fan of fussiness and too much accessorizing.” At Ellen on Ludlow Street she grabs a denim smock and tiny linen cargo shorts. And then she says something alarming: “Oh and I really love Britney Spears! In a real way, not a kitsch way.” And while I’m having a hard time putting a positive spin on this curious statement, I can’t help but think that we lost our Byrdie. She’s gone to the other side. The West Coast.