Friday, March 25, 2011

Tiger Morse

Joan Morse, better known as Tiger Morse, was a slightly mysterious Warhol girl, socialite, and designer. It is hard to find out much about her as she frequently lied about her past. Apparently she was a "straight" girl from a good family who first sold dresses out of her house. The styles were very chic, couture, frou-frou, and often made from silk and satin. But after she traveled to Europe, she approached fashion from a new direction, crafting dresses out of shower curtains and incorporating Middle Eastern, African, and Oriental styles. Also, she took up speed, which transformed her from a society girl to "speed freak". She took over the Cheetah boutique, then made the Kaleidoscope and Teeny Weeny boutiques. Warhol describes Teeny Weeny as having brick mirrors all over the place, along with many broken ones due to Tiger's amphetamine usage. She made radical, pop clothes like a dress that said "Love" on the front and "Hate" on the back. Her policy was to make clothing out of only man-made materials like vinyl, Mylar, and sequins. She even took a native African cloth, Kanga, put it in a tank of vinyl, and made unique clothes out of it. She also pioneered using lights in clothing, an idea which Diana Dew completed. It is said that if you ordered something from Teeny Weeny, it would come wrapped in butcher paper and often with a used syringe accidentally wrapped with it. Tiger also got in to designing pajamas, which had groovy, bright patterns typical of the mid to late '60s. She designed clothes for the Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention album, We're Only In It For The Money, and for the movie The Secret Life of Hernando Cortez.
Tiger was in two Warhol factory films, Tiger Morse and **** (Four Stars). She was the subject of the first, made in 1967. The latter featured Tiger, Edie Sedgwick, Nico, and Ultra Violet (other Warhol girls). She also appeared in the movie Okay Bill in 1971.
Tiger's style was interesting and colorful. She was even a bit ahead of her time; in relatively square 1964 she was photographed wearing a low-necked navy dress with gold trim and a long floaty floral skirt, a sort of sophisticated proto-hippie look (see photo above). Elsewhere she wore her favorite vinyl regalia with extravagant sunglasses and white lipstick, or black lace and a feathered mask, usually accompanied by a cigarette and long holder, à la Audrey. Andy Warhol described one "happening" where she wore silver jeans and gigantic sunglasses. According to him, she would turn artistic events into flat out parties. Her frequent haunts was Max's Kansas City in New York and The Scene, the first of which she worked at, and the latter she financed.
One of Tiger's sayings, "I am living proof that speed does not kill" came to be sadly ironic in 1972. She passed away from an overdose.

Tiger is in the front, left-center I believe

Album art for We're Only In It For The Money, which parodied the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's:

I just found that Jackie Kennedy bought clothes from À La Carte! Wow. 


Really, these are just some shoes she collected in her travels. Still cool.

(Information from Squidoo, Enokiworld, SI Vault, IMDB, Edie: An American Girl, and Popism. Photos from Get Stock, Getty, Lover of Fashion, Viva Love, On This Day In Fashion, Met Museum, and the top photo, shoes, and Twiggy photo are scanned from Radical Rags.)

Sorry for the lack of photos, there really aren't many out there! Tiger doesn't even have a Wikipedia page, which is weird...


Aitch said...

It is weird that TM doesn't have a Wiki page.
I have read a fair amount about Warhol but never came across her previously--only now reading about her in a book about Max's Kansas City.

Freya said...

Amazing article and some pictures I had never seen before! I know there's more to find out about her, I just wish someone would write a book about all these obscure Warhol characters!!

Anonymous said...

I first heard about Tiger Morse in Edie sedwick's bio. It's rare to see so many photo's of Tiger and her avantguard looks.(in her bio photographers followed Sedgwick around NY thinking she was Morse,now I see why,they had a similarity about them).