February 15 is Marisa Berenson’s birthday.
I was never terribly interested in Marisa Berenson. When I was a kid, discovering fashion for the first time, Berenson already seemed like yesterday’s news. She’s eighteen years older than me, so I suppose that the generation gap was somewhat insurmountable. Her mid-seventies heyday as a seasoned socialite represented everything I was rebelling against as a disobedient teenager in the early eighties. She was the disco to my new wave; the polyester slacks to my button-fly 501s.
Now that I’m old enough to put everything into perspective, I like Marisa Berenson. Until a couple of months ago, I virtually forgot that she was in “Cabaret,” even though I’ve seen it a dozen times. She gives a wonderful performance in the film. Still, there is so much to marvel at in “Cabaret” that it isn’t a surprise that Berenson is a little forgettable alongside her singing and dancing co-stars.
And then there is her modeling career. She achieved her first taste of success while I was still in the womb, appearing on the cover of “Vogue” in 1965. By the time I saw those photos, they didn’t just seem to be from another era, but from another world altogether. Again, putting Berenson’s body of work into perspective is easy for me now — she was the real deal — but it took me a while to figure her out because of the generation gap.
I suppose that kids today don’t have the same problem. If I wanted to look at old copies of “Vogue” when I was a kid, I had to find those magazines in libraries or at flea markets. The internet is connecting today’s kids with the previous generation in a way that it never has before. So when kids see a supermodel from the previous generation, they are instantly able to pull up her entire archive. It provides them with a sense of appreciation and veneration that kids of my generation didn’t have. We actively rebelled against the past because it seemed so different. Nowadays, kids are able to see that the more things change, the more they stay the same. It doesn’t stop them from rebelling, though, yet it does provide them with a sense of context that me and my peers didn’t have.
So, what does this have to do with Marisa Berenson and her horoscope? She actually has the chart of someone who would have naturally rebelled against whatever had come before. With her sun in Aquarius, moon in Sagittarius, and the rest of her planets scattered quite evenly throughout her chart, Berenson isn’t that different from me. It’s likely that she reveled in her position as part of fashion’s vanguard in the sixties and seventies. It’s also likely that she looks back today and wonders what it was that possessed her to be so sure of herself when she was just a kid.
I feel the same way about myself during the early eighties. What was I thinking? I don’t regret that I was fiercely individualistic (the Aquarius and Sagittarius influences in my own chart saw to that), but I do regret how I dismissed the previous generation because I didn’t believe that anyone knew what it was like to walk in my shoes.
Perspective is everything. Context is everything. With a few more notches on my belt, I am glad to say that I appreciate everything about Marisa Berenson and her storied career, even if I did ignore her for a very long time. I’d apologize, but I believe that every kid does the exact same thing. It’s not just in our stars to be jerks when we’re teenagers, but it’s also in our DNA.
Prove me wrong, kids. Prove me wrong.