Monday, 2 September 2013

Utterly Brill!

In 1992, the consummate guide to feminine charm Boobs, Boys and High Heels: Or How to Get Dressed in Just Under Six Hours was published - and soon became essential reading for club kids, society dames and drag queens everywhere.

It was the product of the fertile imagination of Miss Dianne Brill, legendary hostess, sex-kitten, sometime actress, party-goer and "face" of the 80s New York nightclub scene.

Crowned "Queen of the Night" by Andy Warhol, she emerged from Florida to hit New York with a bang. She become a fashion model and muse for Thierry Mugler, Jean Paul Gaultier and Vivienne Westwood, and launched her own menswear line, worn by such luminaries as Prince, the Rolling Stones and Duran Duran.

Throughout the 1980s, she seemed to be everywhere and seen with everyone who "mattered". As David Hutchings, writing in People magazine in 1985 put it:
The door of the rented limo opens and out comes a vision in outrageousness: a Valkyrie by Fellini. In five-inch stiletto heels and a three-foot blond mane that's been streaked, permed, sprayed, pressed and fried, she stands a formidable 6'2". For this grand soir at the Palladium, New York's club of the moment, she's wearing "something simple - rubber with fringe." The dress is fluorescent white, unthinkably low-cut and as tight as Saran Wrap.

The lady in latex is Dianne Brill, a 26-year-old fashion designer who has become, seemingly overnight, First Citizen of Manhattan nightlife. If there's an opening, a party, a lotto drawing, anything where cameras are clicking from Harlem to Tribeca, she is there. In an era when status is determined by visibility, her bursting hourglass figure is the highest profile in town. When she arrives, the party begins.
Sometime in the 90s she gave it all up, married film producer Peter Völkle, moved to Switzerland and had three children. However, married domesticity did not stop her flair for beauty and fashion, and in 2008 she bounced back into the spotlight with the launch of a range of cosmetics including the fabulously titled "Eye Underwear". Her lipsticks have names such as "Silk Stockings", "Thigh-High Nylons" and "Leopard Brassiere".

Facts about Miss Brill:
  • She reinvented the infamous "pencil test", suggesting that women wear a corset or push-up bra and put a pencil in their cleavage - if the pencil doesn't fall, the woman's cleavage is perfect.
  • Her rules of survival in the hedonistic 80s club world were: "no drugs, no booze, no weekend gallivanting".
  • A mannequin was created in honour of her buxom figure and is still used by Agent Provocateur today.
  • Her son Keenan is a male model in his own right.
An interview with Dianne Brill on the Societé Perrier nightlife website.

Dianne Brill official website


  1. That book really belongs on my night table...

    1. Mine, too - I am seeking a copy as we speak... Jx

  2. A real blast from the past. One often wonders where people disappear to. Thanks for the update.

    1. The lady herself seems to be rather less in the spotlight these days... Jx


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