Style icon: Jean Shrimpton.
I have a link to Jean. A tiny link. In fact it’s not even my link but my Mum’s. Meet my Mum – Andy. She’s quite a babe these days and, as this photo from about 1969 shows, she was quite a babe in the 60s too!
My Mum worked in a local bank in a very rural part of Mid Wales for a few years before she went to College. It so happened that Jean Shrimpton had a holiday cottage nearby and she came into the bank one day to open an account. My Mum happened to be free and so she helped out and took Jean through all the paperwork. Later, Mum’s colleagues wouldn’t believe her when she told them who’d just visited. Like I said, it is a very rural part of Wales and we don’t get many interesting visitors!
A few weeks later Mum went to the cinema and saw Jean there, she remembered her and said hello and the next time she was in the bank she asked mum if she’d enjoyed the film. I love this story. It’s always pleasant when you meet a celeb and they take the time to make conversation with you.
Jean Shrimpton is one of the key figures of ‘Swinging London’ and is often cited as one of the world’s first supermodels. She started modelling at 17 and was soon dubbed ‘The Face’, one of the highest paid models of the time and Glamour magazine named her ‘Model of the Year’ in 1963.
She was involved In promoting the miniskirt and caused a stir when she stepped off a plane in Melbourne wearing a dress that stopped 10cm above her knees! No hat, no gloves and wearing a man’s watch too. I say!
She dated photographer David Bailey for several years, in fact he left his first wife to be with Jean. They were engaged and she has stated that she owes her career to Bailey. It was a mutually beneficial working relationship as many of Bailey’s early photos of Jean were well received, helping further his career.
So, why style icon? Well, she has pretty amazing eyes and it cannot be denied that the camera does love her. I must admit to being a sucker for the 60s styles she wears and the fact that she was definitely instrumental in the creation of the miniskirt is a pretty immense thing to have on your CV. I mean, seriously, what have you done with your life?! Also, those pins. I would kill for legs like that. Yes, she’s gamine (waiflike and boyish – I looked it up) and I guess she may have begun the fashion industries’ love of the boyish figure and subsequent media obsession with women’s weight. But that’s hardly her fault. And it’s changing. Ever so slowly, I believe it is changing.
But most of all, she was nice to my Mum. I’d expect the same from any supermodel…
It is with an anecdote for the grandchildren I say:
It’s only vintage but I like it!