Talitha Getty | Forever Hippie Chic
‘Once upon a time, in a Bohemian Kingdom filled with dancers, acrobats, magicians and snake charmers, a Getty Prince and an enchanting Princess created a beautiful residence and named it ‘Pleasure Palace’.....’ When J. Paul Getty Jr. met gorgeous long-limbed Talitha Pol - a sometimes model and actress - in London’s Swinging 60s scene, he found the ultimate accomplice for a wealthy bohemian life. In Rome they married and in Marrakech’s old city, a place filled with oriental mystique, social experimentation and liberation from stayed European customs, the newlyweds found the perfect place for a chance to experience life. Here Talitha Getty’s individual, eclectic style evolved from mod to hippy and from stylish but stayed to mythical: a marriage of Eastern culture and London youth quake. Talitha could be seen in couture (YSL, Ossie Clark and Valentino), ethnic (caftans, Balinese wraps, Palestinian wedding dresses, Moroccan djellabas) and loads of costume jewelry—a style that designer Phoebe Philo once recalled as “couture of the souks”.
On top of their 19th Century ‘Le Palais du Zahir’, coined by the couple as ‘Pleasure Palace’, photographer Patrick Lichtfield captures Talitha in a picture that would inspire thousands of fashion collections. Adorned in white harem pants, a multi-colored silk brocade kaftan and white boots, a ring on every finger, Talitha is ethereal, alluring, sophisticated and beautiful.
Also Yves Saint Laurent has been inspired and entranced by Talitha’s mixture of apparent innocence - the barefoot flower child in ethnic dress - and wild, sexual decadence (the drugs, the Rolling Stones and Beatles as house guests), at that time strange to Paris. After meeting her, the couturier recalled 'When I knew Talitha Getty, my vision completely changed’, infusing his designs with a romanticized vision of Talitha as a night star of Marrakech. Since then,everyone from Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs, Dries van Noten to Chloe, has done a take on Talitha.
The Oriental fairy tale did have a dark side. The beautiful can be damned. Born in the former Dutch Indies to Dutch parents on 18 October 1940, Talitha was interned along with her mother in a Japanese prison camp during the Second World War. Her father, a painter named Willem Pol, was imprisoned in a different camp, and after their release the couple separated. Following the war, her mother died and Talitha moved to England to join Willem, who had since married Poppet John. Early trials that would remain shadows in Talitha’s psyche, dark corners that ultimately made her tragically vulnerable, almost like a wounded child.
At the age of 30 Talitha died of a massive heroine overdose. Surrounded by the black and white marble floors, Venetian furniture, William Morris wallpaper, Art Nouveau fixtures, Balinese umbrellas and elephant saddle chairs of her and J.Paul’s rooftop apartment in Rome, she truly became otherworldly.
Despite her untimely death, her style legacy continues to grow. An inexhaustible Muse. Magical. Out of Control. Forever young. Forever Bohemian. Forever Beautiful. The world at her feet, with the snowy mountains of Marrakech above, the gardens below, full of palm trees, squawking birds, tea boys and snake charmers.