Linda Thompson on Elvis, Fashion, and Memories
By Linda Thompson
FROM LEFT: Linda Thompson, in a one-shoulder dress, Kenny Rogers and Muhammad Ali celebrating Rogers’ birthday in 1978; Elvis Presley and Thompson, in a handcrocheted dress from Suzy Creamcheese, posing for a Thompson family photo in 1974; Presley and Thompson, in a Stephen Burrows print outfit, exiting the Lisa Marie
Some days I curse myself for being a sentimental pack rat, and other days I celebrate being so prescient as to have kept designer duds from the ’70s that are now considered collectible, costly vintage!
Living with Elvis and being his girlfriend for almost five years (July 1972 until December 1976) taught me a lot about fashion in and out of the spotlight—not to mention plenty of other life lessons.
On one occasion, Elvis was in Las Vegas rehearsing for a Hilton engagement, leaving me in his Holmby Hills estate to prepare myself for his opening night, which was always star-studded and spectacular. He called me and insisted I take his Rolls-Royce limo to what was then the trendiest shop in Beverly Hills, Giorgio’s. Of course, I was cooperative. Shopping? Beverly Hills? Giorgio’s? Okay, if you insist!
Finding not a single similarity to any store I had ever frequented in my hometown of Memphis, I took a number of slinky, sexy, clingy, jersey and chiffon pieces and gowns into the dressing room. I was whipping through everything—Giorgio Sant’Angelo, Stephen Burrows, Halston. I found an antique, petit-point evening bag that was a treasure then and even more so today as it sits in my closet.
I decided on just a few dresses, the aforementioned bag and a couple of accessories. I was stunned when the relatively few items tallied up to a whopping $12,000! Of course in today’s climate, one evening dress can cost that much, but for a Memphis girl, it was a horrifying revelation. I got over my shock and paid the saleswoman. From that original shopping spree, I have a red jersey Halston, several evening bags and a few other designer dresses I still wear more than 30 years later. So ladies, some clothes (like some men) are worth keeping for the long term. Value is value!
There were plenty of other boutiques and dress shops in the ’70s worth mentioning, such as Judy’s at Century City and the Pleasure Dome on Sunset. Some of the clothes at the Pleasure Dome were rock ’n’ roll edgy and some were ultrafeminine and sexy. I collected both and wore the different styles with equal conviction. After all, I am a Gemini.
Sporting my fashion whim of the day or evening, I was a regular at restaurants like Luau, Le Dome, Dan Tana’s, Dar Maghreb, Carmine’s, La Dolce Vita, Matteo’s and the Aware Inn. (Am I bringing back memories for some of you?) And just as I occasionally still wear some of my ’70s fashions today, I still frequent Dan Tana’s; my sons and I love Dar Maghreb; Luau has reopened and Le Dome transformed into one of my favorite restaurants, BLT Steak. What goes around truly does come around.
Like one-shoulder dresses, uneven hemlines, hip-hugging jeans, cutout midriffs and yes, even big hair, everything old eventually becomes new again. So enjoy yourselves and your fashion statements no matter what stage of life you’re in. There are women in their fifties and sixties today who are as fit as the twentysomethings they share the dance floor with and can sport their clothing just as confidently. Just look in the mirror first, do a full 360, then get out there—revel and rebel!