Who: Talitha Getty, nee Pol
What: Actress/model, socialite, and wife of John Paul Getty II
When: 1940 - 1971
Why: Talitha was the leading lady of the 60s bohemian jet-set and is credited with pioneering the boho-chic style, influencing generations of designers and fashionistas even today.
Talitha Getty's Story
You can't talk about boho style without first discussing Talitha Getty, the woman with whom it all began. Born to Dutch parents in Java in 1940, Talitha Pol's life wasn't always glamorous. She spent her first four years of life in a WWII Japanese POW camp. When the war ended, Talitha and her mother moved to London. Her mother died soon after, leaving young Talitha to fend for herself. She enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and appeared in a few movies. Although she never quite made it big as an actress, the extraordinarily beautiful Talitha did capture the eye of many a gentleman in London society. In 1965, she met oil heir John Paul Getty II at a dinner party, and by 1966 the two were married.
With limitless resources, the couple joined the then-burgeouning international jet-set, splitting their time between London, Rome, and Marakkech. It was in Morocco where Talitha's free-spirited bohemian sense of style truly took shape. Mixing couture pieces with ethnic finds and then piling on loads of costume jewelry became her signature. Printed silk caftans, embroidery, tassels, fringe - Talitha was not afraid to make a statement with her psychedelic style. The Getty's Marakkech home came to be known as "The Pleasure Palace" and played host to a revolving cast of 1960's artists, musicians, and rich young elite, including the Rolling Stones and The Beatles.
American Vogue editor Diana Vreeland recognized Talitha as a rare truly original style icon and featured Talitha, as did French Vogue, and famed photographer Patrick Lichfield photographed her. Talitha inspired such iconic fashion designers as Valentino and Yves Saint Laurent, who is quoted as saying "I knew the youthfulness of the Sixties (...) Talitha and Paul Getty lying on a starlit terrace in Marrakesh, beautiful and damned, and a whole generation assembled as if for eternity where curtain of the past seemed to lift before the extraordinary future". "Beautiful and damned" encapsulates Talitha Getty's life well, as beneath the glamorous surface there was a dark reality - both Talitha and her husband were terribly addicted to heroin. In 1971, at only 30 years old, Talitha took a lethal dose of heroin. She was a beautifully tragic creature, at once a troubled soul and free spirit. As Diane von Furstenberg put it, "a very bright creature who wanted to dance under the stars—and danced too fast." However tragic and untimely her death, Talitha's sartorial legacy continues to inspire even 40 years later.