Twiggy, the world’s first Supermodel turns 74

Her cultural impact on fashion remains unique since the 1960’s

Twiggy, the world’s first Supermodel turns 74

Twiggy was born Lesley Hornby on September 19th, 1949 in London, England. She rose to fame in the mid 1960’s due to her unconventional modeling looks. Until Twiggy, fashion models had to have feminine looking bodies with curves and noticeable breasts, she started two main revolutionary genres on Fashion industry, due to her thin build (thus her nickname) and her androgynous look consisting of big eyes, long eyelashes, and short hair. Twiggy is often considered the first international supermodel, she paved the way for the Top Model cultural relevance for years to come by becoming a worldwide phenomenon. She is also strongly associated with the 1960’s Swinging London scene. In 1966, she was named “The Face of 1966″ by the Daily Express and voted British Woman of the Year. By 1967, she had modeled in France, Japan, and the U.S, and had landed on the covers of Vogue and The Tatler. Twiggy was short for a model at 5’6” (167 cm), weighed eight stone (51 kg; 112 lbs) and had a 31-23-32 figure, “with a new kind of streamlined, androgynous sex appeal”. Her hairdresser boyfriend, Nigel Davies, became her manager, changed his name to Justin de Villeneuve, and persuaded her to change her name to Twiggy. De Villeneuve credits himself for Twiggy’s discovery and her modelling success, and his version of events is often quoted in other biographies.Twiggy arrived in New York in March 1967 at Kennedy Airport, an event covered by the press. The New Yorker, Life and Newsweek reported on the Twiggy “phenomenon” in 1967, with the New Yorker devoting nearly 100 pages to the subject.” That year she became an international sensation, modelling in France, Japan and America, and landing the cover of Paris Vogue in May,the cover of US Vogue three times, in April, July and November, and the cover of British Vogue in October. In 1967, an editorial on page 63 of the edition of 15th March of Vogue described her as an “extravaganza that makes the look of the sixties”. She has been photographed by such noted photographers as Cecil Beaton, Richard Avedon, Melvin Sokolsky, Ronald Traeger, Bert Stern, Norman Parkinson, Annie Leibovitz and Steven Meisel. Twiggy and the magazines featuring her image polarized critics from the start. Her boyishly thin image was criticized as, and is still blamed for, promoting an “unhealthy” body ideal for women. After four years of modelling, Twiggy retired in 1970 at age 31, stating “You can’t be a clothes hanger for your entire life!” She broke off with Justin de Villeneuve, who had been overseeing her business affairs since 1966, and released him from his duties as her manager, claiming in later years that “her career had more to do with that famous picture of her with those funny painted eyelashes, which appeared in the Daily Express under the headline ‘The Face of ’66’ ” than with his promotional efforts. Twiggy then embarked on an award-winning acting and singing career, starring in a variety of roles on stage and screen, and recording albums. In 1971, she made her film debut as an extra in cult movie director Ken Russell’s “The Devils” .In 1973, she appeared with David Bowie on the iconic cover of his seventh album, “Pin Ups” which appropriately was a late 1960’s Rock covers album. Twiggy remains in the forefront of fashion for women of her age. She  started an HSN fashion line called the “Twiggy London” collection, and has begun a fashion blog to discuss the line. Most women in their 60’s and 70’s are remaining stylish today, and this trend has been termed the “Twiggy effect”.

Watch the documentary “Twiggy: The Face of the 60’s”

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