Coveting The Vampire’s Wife

The name Susie Bick conjures up thoughts of an ethereal, dark haired, pale skinned beauty—the ultimate gothic heroine and partner in crime to musician and writer Nick Cave.

Born in Cheshire, Bick—who now goes by her married name Susie Cave—entered the fashion world via photographer Steven Meisel, who discovered her as she was running away from boarding school in England to New York. A successful modeling career ensued, which saw her front campaigns for Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, John Galliano, and Vivienne Westwood. She played muse to David Bailey and worked with notable photographers such as Dominique Isserman, Guy Bourdin, Helmut Newton, Sarah Moon, and Nick Knight. Roxy Music feature Cave on their album cover artwork and Prince was reportedly so bewitched by Cave that he showered her with gifts and red roses.

After 27 years in the fashion industry, Cave joined forces with friend Alex Adamson to establish her own fashion brand, The Vampire’s Wife. The label draws on the aesthetics of both women and is a venture very much close to their hearts. (The brand logo, for example, features Adamson’s Romanian family crest.) 

Today, The Vampire’s Wife launches its first collection exclusively on Silhouettes are flattering, feminine, and reminiscent of the 1950s—think Bewitched—with a color palette of emerald, pink, pale blue, and delicate floral prints. Tie straps, side splits, and subtle frills can be seen to add a little self-conviction. All of the materials are sourced in England and the collection is produced at the label’s Brighton headquarters.

Nick Cave’s monologue and homage to his wife in the film 20,000 Days On Earth will probably give the most concise insight into the brand: “Movie stars, Elizabeth Montgomery, Marilyn Monroe, Jennifer Jones, Bolshoi ballerinas, Suzi Quatro, Tinker Bell trapped in the drawer, Carolyn Jones dying in Elvis’s arm and Jackie O. in mourning.”

FELICTY CARTER: What’s in the name “The Vampire’s Wife”?

SUSIE CAVE: The name was actually the name of a book my husband, Nick, was writing about the role of the muse in the creative process. He abandoned the book, ultimately. I really liked the name though and he gave it to me. It felt right for the company. It was playful, funny, and memorable.

CARTER: Who wears The Vampire’s Wife?

CAVE: The Vampire’s Wife has been seen a lot on the red carpet over the last year. This is, of course, very exciting and given the company a lot of confidence, but really the intention of the company ultimately is to make really beautiful and affordable clothing for every woman. 

CARTER: How do you want people to feel in your clothes?

CAVE: I hope my clothes serve a dual purpose: to be comfortable enough to hide away inside if you want and bold enough to stand tall and take on the world as it comes. I guess I want people to think, when they see someone wearing my clothes, “What a beautiful woman,” not, “What a beautiful dress!”

CARTER: Are you drawn to any specific shapes, colors, detailing, feelings? 

CAVE: Personally I like pale colors. I like my dresses to float, ghost-like. They should have something to do with memory and dreams. 

CARTER: Has your experience in modeling and previous collaborations had an impact on how you view clothes and how you design?

CAVE: Absolutely! Years of working in the industry have taught me both what I love and what I don’t love, what to do and what not to do. I have learned across the years exactly what my particular vision is.

CARTER: If you had to sum up the aesthetic of the brand in five words, what would they be?

CAVE: Dream, ghost, memory, madness, and love.