Dame Lesley Lawson is an English singer, actress, and model who is famously known by her nickname ‘Twiggy.’ During the 60s, she was a British cultural icon and a teenage model who was quite prominent at the time. Twiggy was known for her slim and thin build featuring big eyes, short hair, and long eyelashes. Daily Express named her “The Face of 1966” and was voted as the Women of the Year. By 1967, Twiggy had progressed in her career by modeling in Japan, France, and the US. As a result, she found herself landing on the covers of The Tatler and Vogue. This was a significant breakthrough in her career that would tremendously help her with popularity. Twiggy, as a fashion model, offered so much to the fashion industry, and we have discussed it just a gist. Let us take a closer look and discover who she really was.
When the 60s were swinging, Twiggy had begun her modeling career and was on fire, right from the start. Today, she is best remembered as one of the very first international supermodels, along with being a fashion icon of the 60s. At the same time, there was another supermodel Jean Shrimpton who had a huge influence on Twiggy. The influence of Shrimpton on Twiggy was such that Twiggy herself had been termed as a successor to Shrimpton.
In January 1966, when Twiggy was only 16 years old, she had cut her hair short in London at Leonard of Mayfair. A hairdresser who used to work his skills on celebrities as well owned the salon his name was Leonard. The hairstylist was looking for models to test the new crop haircut and, therefore, style her hair for a few test headshots. Barry Lategan was a professional photographer who took photos of Twiggy, which the hairdresser hung in his salon. To Twiggy’s luck, a fashion journalist from the Daily Express Deirdre McSharry saw the images and requested to meet the young girl.
McSharry then organized and managed to get a few more photos taken. Then, the photos were published in an article, describing Twiggy as ‘The Face of 66’. Furthermore, the copy read, “TheCockney kid with a face to launch a thousand shapes….and she’s only 16”.
In March 1967, Twiggy arrived in New York for an event that was covered by the press. Newsweek and The New Yorker were reporting on the ‘Twiggy phenomenon’ at the time in 1967. The hype was such that New York had dedicated nearly 100 pages to the subject. The very same year, Twiggy became an international sensation while modeling in Japan, America, and France. Then in May, she would make her way to the cover of Vogue in Paris, the cover of US vogue thrice in April, July and November, and the British Vogue cover in October.
There was no doubt that Twiggy had gained more than enough attention to be known across the world in no time. Even the Metropolitan Museum of Art in its catalog of 2009 had nothing but sheer admiration for Twiggy. The fashion industry adored Twiggy, and that was not going anywhere anytime soon.
Television and Singing Career
After modeling consistently for four years, Twiggy hung her boots and decided to quit modeling. She was off the opinion that her career and life were beyond just modeling, which was just a short part of her life. Furthermore, she explained that she did not want to be looked at as a famous picture with funny painted eyelashes. Therefore, Twiggy broke off with her manager and shifted her attention towards singing.
Twiggy’s singing career was an award-winning singing and acting career with a variety of roles both on screen and stage. In 1971, Twiggy made her film debut as an extra in Ken Russell’s The Devils. The same year she would get herself involved in playing several different roles. One such was a leading role as Polly Browne in Russell’s Sandy Wilson’s adaption of pastiche of the 1920s hit musicals, The Boyfriend. This role not only marked the official collaboration with Tommy Tune but also won her two Golden Globe Awards in 1972.
Despite retiring from modeling in 1970, Twiggy’s contribution to the fashion industry has continued and remained constant. She went onto collaborate with Marks and Spencer in 2012 to create and introduce a whole new wardrobe for the customers of M&S while becoming an ambassador for L’Oreal in 2015. By this time, Twiggy was branded as nothing less than a ‘Queen of Mod.’
Today, Twiggy stands as an icon for women of her age. Even though she was cut from the Marks & Spencer team later on but she was one of the very few who managed to survive. In addition to that, she had also begun her Home Shopping Network fashion line called the “Twiggy London” collection. On November 21, 2011, Twiggy released her album ‘Romantically Yours’ that was quite decent in terms of song quality and lyrical ability and featured a guest vocal appearance by Twiggy’s daughter, Carly Lawson.
The Looks of Twiggy
Twiggy was quite close to Mary Quant and collaborated with her on several projects. Some of the most famous fashion collaborations seen in dresses such as skirts that were around six or seven inches above the knees were originally Twiggy’s idea. At the time or as we should say for the time, it was quite scandalous, but it still made its way into magazine covers. You would find these dresses in almost every advertising campaign for the latter part of the decade. The very famous “The Chelsea Look” was modeled by Twiggy but made popular by Mary Quant.
The Shift Dress
During Twiggy’s modeling her career, she was often seen wearing shift dresses in printed advertisements for women magazines. This also included a shift dress on the popular Carnaby Street. More than often, Twiggy would showcase her thin build in a simple shift dress, sometimes with a button placket installed in the front and other times featuring an exaggerated collar. Colors included white and red, sunshine yellow and red in addition to variations on checks, plaids, and stripes. Twiggy never chose to go with fussy fashion styles, instead allowed her legs to do all the talking.
The Ribbed Sweater
Considering Tiwggy’s frame, it was evident that she would carry any look and look extremely fashionable in it. None of her fashion statements was a disappointment. People used to be flattered when they used to see Twiggy with a unique fashion sense and a frame that was the first thing on every women’s wish list. One look that Twiggy pulled off was the ribbed sweater look, which enhanced and added a bit of shape to her original boyish frame. It was often that the ribbed sweaters were paired with funnel necks and mock necks to pull up past the chin.
During the 60s, Twiggy saw herself as a part of a movement that was more liberated in the fashion world. Slight camisoles replaced bras, whereas garters were used in place of stockings. During this time, panties became even rarer. If you take a look at Twiggy’s popular editorial spreads of the decade, you shall see that she believed in the ‘Less is more’ campaign. At the time, the world was perceiving this fashion statement as being too liberal, and of course, it did not settle well with many people. Such fashion statements were bound to provoke criticism, but it seemed that nothing could stand in between Twiggy and her limitless fashion boundaries.
Twiggy was also known for pushing the boundaries when it came to fashion. Therefore, she was never bothered about her boyish looks and never set a limit to modeling. Twiggy carried the look back in the 60s with more thick striped ties with men’s hats and waistcoats combined with her miniskirts usually with bare legs and occasionally fishnet ties.
Loafers and Boots
Thigh-high or Knee-high boots became a huge fashion statement back then as they raced up the legs while being exposed by the miniskirts. At the same time, the loafers provided a boyish style touch to everyday looks. Matching bags were used and wore in funkier designs but were not conventionally used as a matching accessory as they had been back in the day.
To conclude, Twiggy was born to be a star. Her style was daring for its time, but with a variety of looks and a heavenly frame. Not only that, but she was also multi-talented, which was another defining factor in her career following modeling. The style carried by Twiggy back in the 60s has evolved with us today into modern renditions. Therefore, in search of a fashion icon, Twiggy is where you would like to start.