untypical girls

Ursula Dean

an old friend of mine sam knee, an english boy (well he was a boy back then), is now a sort of historian of indie culture from a certain time (my salad days - maybe yours too!) and has published several books about those years.  his most recent book, untypical girls, is a great big picture book of indie girls from the late 80s and early 90s.  music, clothes, hair, attitude, angst it's all there.  i bought his first book, a scene in between when it came out and i reconnected with sam around that time.  i was genuinely surprised when he told me i was in this new book.  i just hoped i wasn't smoking 'cause i knew my kids would see it (i've told them i used to smoke btw).  anyhow, the book came and i was really happy to see an old snapshot of me wearing what was my "uniform" for several years - men's trousers and an old button down shirt.  my hair was short and silvery blond back then.  as my life spun out of control the hair got bigger i remember that clearly. 

the book is made up entirely of photos from friends and friends of friends.  it's a mix of people from bands both well known and otherwise, people on the scene, friends hanging out.  naomi yang from the band galaxie 500 makes several appearances (small crush sam?).  funny back story about naomi.  fast forward 10 years and i was buying every book i came across from a small publisher called exact change press.  i just loved what they were doing, republishing books by surrealist authors or obscure writers like denton welch.  beautiful artwork too!  a few years ago i went to buy a book for a pal and called exact change to find out if they'd ship directly to her.  who answers the phone but naomi yang.  she IS exact change.  of course she's doing something amazing like that.  we chatted for a few minutes.  i used to work at the record label that released their records.  we also figured out we were the same age and why does that always feel nice?

anyhow, here are a fews pics from the book that i especially liked.  i still love this style and i think a part of who i am now holds on to what i liked back then if that makes sense.  flowery dresses and old cardigans.  old oxfords.  men's trousers.  the difference is i can now buy beautiful shoes that look like the thrift store version i constantly sought out.  flowery dresses and blouses?  i learned to make them.  best men's style trousers?  hope from sweden.

me, bottom right.  neither of my kids recognized me sadly.

gillian elam of bi-joopiter in curtain fabric dress.  london, 1989.

gina from the band the marine girls top left.  loved their music and style.

always loved this look on girls.  partly shaved head and heavy eyeliner.  looked pretty good on the boys too :>

amelia fletcher of talulah gosh, london 1986.  great band.  she was adorable.

the trashwomen (top) were a favorite local band in sf and played often at a club i worked at, the purple onion.  (below) the band slant 6.  my husband told me he had a huge crush on myra powers (middle).

elizabeth price of talulah gosh.

(center) naomi yang of galaxie 500. 





  • and that pal is so grateful about denton… i love that book u! i found a copy of a voice through a cloud at a used bookstore. it has a beautiful drawing by him on the cover. a tough read, though. and i’ll have to tell you about the time they laughed me out of florsheim for trying to buy a pair of wingtips. “back in the day” :) that photo of you… the definition of winsome xo


  • the story you’re telling here is so good.


  • So! Stinkin! Cool! xo


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