The 1960s were a time of rebellion and change. Throughout the decade, people saw a transformation in politics, in social attitude, in music, and of course, in fashion. Amidst the clean, tailored suits and dresses (popularised by Jackie O), one woman came along and caused an uproar with her thin limbs and thick eyelashes.
This woman was Twiggy. Twiggy came from modest beginnings. She was born Lesley Hornby on September 19, 1949, in a suburb of London. Her mother worked in a factory and her father was a carpenter.
When she would go out with her friends at night as a teen, Hornby would paint bold, false eyelashes under her eyes. These one day caught the attention of former hairdresser Nigel Davies (who would later change his name to Justin de Villeneuve). Davies convinced the then 16 year old to look into modelling. Hornby cut her hair short, changed her name to Twiggy (a childhood nickname), and began her extensive modelling career under the management of Davies.
Twiggy started in London, taking pictures with photographer Barry Lategan. Her waif-like figure and mod way of dressing was unprecedented in the fashion industry. She became the poster child of the swingings 60s and was often cited as being “the face of ’66.” After achieving fame in London, she and Justin de Villeneuve, whom she was dating by this point, moved to New York.
Twiggy achieved supermodel status while in New York City, often being swarmed on the street by hordes of teenage girls, all trying to emulate the “Twiggy” look. Her fame reached epic proportions. Not only was she on the covers of four American Vogues, two issues of Seventeen, Newseek, French Vogue, British Vogue and twenty other magazines in 1967 alone, but her photograph was also put into a time capsule that was sent into outer space.
By the time the 1970s hit, Twiggy took a break from modelling, but she did not disappear from the public eye. She made a foray into music, television, film and theatre. In 1974, she appeared in the film W (where she was to meet future husband Micheal Witney) and in 1977, released the album Twiggy, which showed off her vocal talents. Throughout the 80s, she continued her acting career with projects like The Blues Brothers and Pygmalion. She remarried to actor Leigh Lawson in 1988, five years after the death of Witney.
Now at 58, Twiggy’s career has toned down a bit, but she still finds ways to keep busy. Besides being a wife and mother, she is currently modelling for British retailer Marks & Spencer, and she had a brief stint as a judge on the tv show America’s Next Top Model. She has also made the move to activist, supporting anti-fur and animal rights groups.
Despite all of her other accomplishments, however, Twiggy will always be known as the model of mod.