Everything Alex Chilton Ever Touched

The first thing I notice is the birdcage – I get really excited when I find animals in the house. It’s one of those cute white ones on a stand, with a tiny seed feeder, a cuttlefish beak, a mirror, and a swing. I press my nose against the metal for inspection. Then I realize the bottom is missing. And there is no bird. Is the cage a piece of art, perhaps? Before my host has a chance to relieve my befuddlement, I contemplate the bird’s tragic ending and its owner’s grieving reluctance to let go, hence the birdcage, still intact, posthumous, like a widow who keeps all her husband’s suits hanging after he passes. “She’s a Blue-Capped Cordon Blue Finch from Africa,” interrupts Alix. “My roommate thinks it’s funny to let her fly around the apartment.” Even so, this might just be a fantastical extension of the denial, because when I look around the Soho loft there is still: no bird.

Twenty-nine year old Alix Brown was definitely born in the wrong decade. Had she been conceived fifty years ago, we may have thought her thick blonde bangs were a sign of the times, not the skillful work of the hairdresser around the corner, the only one who can tame her curls. And we may have considered her choice of sassy, suede mini-skirts a matter of mod survival rather than her latest obsession. Because Alix effortlessly channels all the qualities she admires in her style icons: “The classiness of Catherine Deneuve, the sexiness of Anita Pallenberg and the baddassness of bass player Carol Kaye.” Throw in a little Brigitte Bardot, and a smidgen Amanda de Cadenet (do you see it??) and you have the quintessential, modern gogo-girl, sans boots. “I like 60s mod mixed with 70s glam,” she declares. “With platforms.”

And the look has inspired the life style – or vice versa – from a very early age. She dropped out of school when she was sixteen to travel and play music. “Not saying kids, that’s the thing to do, but it worked for me!” she quickly adds. After growing up in Atlanta and Memphis, she settled in New York because her dad used to take her as a kid and she fell in love with “its dirtiness”. Her fondest childhood memory is discovering her parents’ old records and in turn she now owns a huge collection that moves with her around the world. She mostly likes “60s and 70s rock ‘n roll, soul, psych, punk, power pop; Roy Wood from ELO, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Bowie, Ramones, Arthur Lee, and everything Alex Chilton ever touched.” She plays bass guitar, and DJs with Tennessee Bunny and for the Grandlife Hotels. She got into vintage as soon as she was big enough to fit in her mom’s clothes. For the past two years she has been working full time as a researcher/buyer for What Goes Around Comes Around, one of New York’s finest vintage stores. In short: if Alix Brown looked like Britney Spears, none of this would make sense.

“Do you want to smoke some weed?” she asks after a couple of outfit changes. I happily decline while she takes a few puffs from a roach. It  suddenly dawns on me why the mood is so mellow too. Her slow and sexy tone of voice, the way she saunters around the room, how easily she poses… It’s all second nature and indispensable to the beatnik life that was laid out for her. She takes a cigarette break, changes records, takes me up on the roof and tells me she would love to shoot for Playboy one day. “The Playboys from the 70s are sooooo cool!” she sighs. Downstairs her ex-boyfriend just arrived, wearing “the nice shirt”. I had almost forgotten about the bird, when something blue and fluttery sheers over our heads, and lands on one of the pipes in the ceiling. She is indeed blue, and tiny. And very much alive.

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August 5, 2014

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4 Responses to “Everything Alex Chilton Ever Touched”

  1. avatar
    christene - Reply

    One of your best shoots ever…she is a dead ringer for Patti Boyd!

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