models, 1960s

   During the 1960s there emerged a new style of female model and fashion image: the model as pop cultural icon, star personality and sexualized ‘childwoman’ fetish object. The new models, particularly Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy (Lesley Hornby), refused the elegant and distanced anonymity of earlier couture models, even as they appropriated the youthful glamour of pop stars. The expanding British fashion, pop and advertising industries promoted the provocative, non-conventional and eroticized ‘Youthquake’ images constructed by the models and photographers. For example, the trendsetting television presenter Cathy McGowan modelled the innovative fashions of young British designers, including Tuffin and Foale and Barbara Hulanicki of Biba, each Friday night on the groundbreaking pop show Ready, Steady, Go. Pop singers Cilla Black and Sandie Shaw did likewise. Jean Shrimpton personified the transition from the expense, sophistication and elegance of 1950s couture to the inexpensive and youthful pop fashion of the 1960s. She pioneered what Mary Quant called the ‘Method School of Modelling’. Initially photographed by David Bailey in 1960 for Vogue, the published ‘pin-ups’ made Shrimpton an international sexual icon and fashion celebrity. Significantly, Shrimpton’s classic English beauty type and her lithe figure contrasted sharply with that voluptuous mode of 1950s cinematic sexuality exemplified by Hollywood stars Marilyn Monroe or Jayne Mansfield. Central to the delineation of the fashionable child-woman ‘look’ were Shrimpton’s shoulder length curtain of hair, her dramatic use of make-up and false eyelashes, and evershortening skirts. Furthermore, her non-traditional ‘kinky’ style and anti-establishment ‘dolly’ attitude was expressive of the cultural ideology of the mods. Twiggy and her teenage manager-boyfriend Justin de Villeneuve (Nigel Davis) emerged in a blitz of media coverage in 1967. Twiggy’s trademark prepubescent physique and androgynous boyish look (see androgynous/unisex look), combined with her London working-class accent, produced a fashion and media sensation on both sides of the Atlantic. Her career as fashion model and media celebrity translated into offers of film work and she starred in Ken Russell’s pastiche of the classic Hollywood musical, The Boyfriend (1971). However, controversy continues regarding the ways in which Twiggy’s mode of ultra-thinness is associated with the social prevalence of image-related illnesses like anorexia, bulimia (see eating disorders) and other image-distortion syndromes in contemporary western girls and women.
   See also: supermodels
   Further reading
    Quick, H. (1997) Catwalking: A History of the Fashion Model, London: Hamlyn (a popular, illustrated introduction).
   MARK DOUGLAS

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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