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Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton: Two Mod Supermodels of the Swinging Sixties

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Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton were two of the top models in the sixties. Before the term "supermodel" existed, these two women embodied it.

Heidi Klum, Gisele Bündchen, and Naomi Campbell are familiar names even to those who would never claim to be dedicated followers of fashion. But before these supermodels were born, a whole slew of mod fashion models became internationally known for their beauty and style. Although no one had heard of a supermodel in those days, these women transcended the realm of fashion. Many branched out into acting and other careers, and each made her own indelible, stylish mark on the world. Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton were two of the most iconic supermodels of their day, and remain mod icons.

Twiggy:  Probably the best-known model of the sixties, Twiggy's petite, super-svelte figure made her the original waif decades before Kate Moss's debut. Born Lesley Hornby on September 19th, 1949, the north Londoner had self-described "mousy brown" hair before undergoing a 7-hour transformation into the cropped blonde mod the world would come to know and love as Twiggy.

A complete original, Twiggy painted lower lashes onto her face with makeup, impressing even jaded fashion industry types. Such was the impact of mod superstar Twiggy that her image was included in a time capsule headed for space.  Although some critics predicted she would only last a few weeks, the "Face of 66" is still involved in modeling and acting. She appeared on the cover for David Bowie's 1973 album "Pin Ups," and became the spokesmodel for Marks and Spencer in 2005. Notable acting roles include "The Blues Brothers" and "Madame Sousatzka," following her 1972 debut in Ken Russell's "The Boy Friend." The multi-talented Twiggy even sang on the soundtrack for "Sousatzka," in addition to other recordings.

Jean Shrimpton:  This 60s top model entered the world on November 7th, 1942. Unlike the more androgynous Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton made her mark with long, swingy locks and a sensual pout. Despite her 5'9 1/2" stature, she was known as "the Shrimp." Hailing from Buckinghamshire, England, Jean Shrimpton began her career earlier than Twiggy, in 1960.

Rumored to have been the best-paid model of the time, her figure was even used as the basis for mannequins' forms. Shrimpton crossed the Atlantic and graced the cover of Vogue no less than 19 times. Shrimpton, the model in the super mod photo near the blue scooter, is credited with bringing the miniskirt to the masses.

In fact, the lanky model caused a bit of a scandal when she showed up at the staid Melbourne Cup horse races in an above-the-knee dress without a hat or gloves.. Romantically linked to legendary photographer David Bailey, she tried her hand at acting in "Privilege." She eventually left her mod past behind, settling into the more sedate roles of innkeeper and antiques dealer.

SOURCES

http://www.twiggylawson.co.uk/biography.html

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/racing/model-jean-shrimpton-recollects-the-stir-she-caused-on-victoria-derby-day-in-1965/story-fn4cyin0-1225792393451

http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20067955,00.html

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Stacy Calvert

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