Monday, August 30, 2010

Fashion Flashbacks!! The Shrimp and The Twig

Too old for hot flashes......old enough for Flashbacks! And lately I’ve been having them like mad, Flashbacks that is, every time I catch an episode of “Mad Men” or see its influence on this fall’s fashions.

I came of age during the 60s, and every time I think of that decade two fashion icons instantly leap to mind -- Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy. Their careers bookend the 60s and their fabulous faces and forms embody the beauty zeitgeist of the period.

Jean Shrimpton, affectionately known as “The Shrimp,” burst onto the modeling scene in 1960 and is widely considered to be the world’s first Top Model – just ask her successor, Twiggy, who considered her a mentor and inspiration.

After helping to launch the miniskirt, she became the official symbol of Swinging London. Everything she did was news, and she was endlessly photographed at all the trendiest places on the arm of every drop-dead, gorgeous hunk in the music and theatrical world.

Like every young girl my age, I worshiped her – collected her pictures, devoured every news item about her and bought the products she endorsed. My first lipstick was from the Yardley Slicker collection. It was a pale pink confection called “Pink Parfait” and it was………....wait for it……………..frosted!! I know, I know, but it was the 60s and we frosted everything – our lips, our eyes, our hair. Besides, most 13-year-old girls don’t start out with “Vixen Red.” You have to work up to that.

Twiggy, née Lesley Hornby, was dubbed “The Face of 1966” by the Daily Express and by 1967 was an internationally acknowledged Top Model. Whereas in the early 60s The Shrimp had replaced the more mature, curvaceous models of the 50s with her youthful, coltish curves, Twiggy’s androgynous, pre-pubescent charms would become “The Look” of the late 60s.

Although The Shrimp would always occupy a special place in my heart, my girlfriends and I were just wild about Twiggy. We chopped off our hair, we wore brown oxford ties, and we affected her knocked-kneed pose to the exasperation of my Mother who kept reminding me how much money she’d spent on ballet lessons and “now look at the way you’re standing!!!!” But I didn’t care. My Mother was clearly too old to get the whole Twiggy thing.

So, what has become of my two favorite faces of the 60s? Well………………………

After seeing the handwriting on the wall in the 70s, Jean Shrimpton made a tactful and graceful retreat from the camera.

In 1979, she married photographer Michael Cox and together they bought the Abbey Hotel in Cornwall, UK, which they still own.

As a model, Shrimpton was known for her work ethic -- never late, never temperamental, always professional. Somewhat bemused by her own success, she always insisted that it was the makeup and lighting that made her look beautiful. I find that incredibly hard to believe.

In fact, although there must be thousands of gorgeous photos of The Shrimp in public and private collections all over the world, not one adorns the walls of the Abbey Hotel.

These days, Twiggy is still very much in the public eye. She models, has hosted her own TV shows in the UK, has been a judge on “America’s Next Top Model,” endorses products, and, in case you hadn’t noticed, she has finally filled out.

Following the sudden death of her first husband in 1983, she married her current husband in 1984. She devotes a great deal of her time to charitable causes, such as breast cancer.

But, what I really love about this survivor of the beauty wars is that she has made a point of being in the public eye without worrying about the odd wrinkle or two, to which I say,

Long Live The Twig.

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