Eighties 'It Girl' Cornelia Guest speaks with PEOPLE about her '80s fashion, Twin Peaks, and the celebutantes of today

By Dave Quinn and Liam Berry
May 20, 2017 02:53 PM
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Premiere Of Showtime's "Twin Peaks" - Arrivals
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Former “It girl” Cornelia Guest was only 18 when she was named 1982’s Debutante of the Year — and just 22 when she was dubbed the “Debutante of the Decade.” But if she knew then what she knows now, Guest says she might have made some different fashion choices.

Ahead of Showtime’s highly anticipated revival of cult-favorite ’90s series Twin Peaks on Friday, the 53-year-old star looked back with PEOPLE at her 1980s style — including one popular photo from 1983 taken at an event with Halston and Cheryl Tiegs.

“I think it’s hysterical,” she told PEOPLE ahead of the premiere of her style. “I look at that picture and I cringe. I think, ‘What was I thinking?’ That hair and that bow on my neck?! Ah, incredible.”

“It was an incredible time,” she said. “I mean New York was booming. The night club business, all those clubs — the clubs downtown — all the music that was going on, the art…. it came from that whole time!”

Cornelia Guest, Halston, and Cheryl Tiegs
Cornelia Guest, Halston, and Cheryl Tiegs
| Credit: The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty

If Guest’s memories of the ’80s scene are fond, it’s because she was a fixture in them.

The daughter of socialite C.Z. Guest and her husband Winston Guest (the polo champion cousin of Winston Churchill), the blonde beauty — once called the first “celebutante” by The New York Times — was a constant presence in the national news throughout the decade.

She danced at Studio 54, partied with stars like Truman Capote and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and she even had a celebrity boyfriend in Sly Stallone.

“This generation can’t get away with anything,” she joked looking back at the ’80s. “These kids today… I mean there was no Instagram at Studio 54. That would’ve destroyed that place.”

Max Mara Celebrates Natalie Dormer - The 2016 Women In Film Max Mara Face Of The Future - Arrivals
Credit: David Livingston/Getty

In later years, Guest found her passion by turning her lifelong love of animals into animal rights activism and founded Artemis Farm Rescue, a non profit animal sanctuary in Ancramdale, New York. She also became a caterer and published a cookbook and entertaining guide: Cornelia Guest’s Simple Pleasures: A Healthy Seasonal Cooking & Easy Entertaining.

Now, with a new memoir (titled Then and Now) to be published next year by Rare Bird Books and slew of new TV and film projects coming up, Guest is reinventing herself yet again. Just don’t ask her about Twin Peaks.

“I can’t tell you a thing. No, I can’t. I’m so sorry,” she joked ahead of the show’s Sunday premiere. “I wish I could. I wanna know as badly as you do! I’m as excited as everybody else and I think that’s a really cool thing that they’ve kept the excitement going, that no one knows anything. I think it’s a testament to David Lynch and Mark Frost that no one has opened their mouths.”

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As for the celebutantes of today —the Kylie and Kendall Jenners of the world — Guest has nothing but support.

“I think they’re great,” she says. “All those girls are fulfilling their dreams. They’re living out their dreams. That’s what is the best. If you can do that, God bless you. I think it’s fantastic what those girls are doing.”

Twin Peaks premieres this Sunday (9 p.m. ET) on Showtime.