In honor of fashion week, ReFined Culture would like to show appreciation for the models who made an impact on the fashion industry. To kick it off, we will start with the legendary Lesley Lawson, AKA Twiggy.
In the mid-1960s, Twiggy became one of the world’s first supermodels as well as the face of London’s “mod” scene.
Born Lesley Hornby on September 19, 1949 in London, England, Twiggy first rose to fame as a model in the 1960s. She has since established herself as an actress, singer and television personality. Twiggy is the youngest of three sisters. One of her earlier nicknames during her school years was “Sticks.” But the name she is famous for was given to her as a teenager.
Remembered as one of the first international supermodels and a fashion icon, Twiggy epitomized the supermodel look that would go on to dominate the modeling world until the late 90’s. In January of 1966, Lesley made a visit to the House of Leonard where she would have her hair colored and cut short to try out Leonard’s new crop haircut. Professional photographer Barrey Lategan took several photos of her with this new hair style. When Deidre McSharry, a fashion journalist from the Daily Express, saw the images, he asked to meet the young teen. At just 16 years old, she already had photos arranged to be taken of her and were featured as an article in the publication. It declared her “The face of ’66.”
After this article, Hornby’s career quickly took off. Being only 5’6″ may have been a relatively short height for a model, but not for Hornby. At just 112 pounds with a 31-23-32 figure, she possessed a “new kind of streamlined, androgynous sex appeal.” She chose her hairdresser boyfriend, Nigel Davies, as her manager, changing his name to Justin de Villeneuve , and he convinced her to change her name to Twiggy.
Twiggy was one of the first models to parlay her success as a model into other business ventures. In 1967, she came to the United States to promote her own clothing line as well as model. The trip also afforded her a chance to work with famed photographer Richard Avedon. Twiggy became so popular in America that she even inspired her own Barbie doll. More Twiggy merchandise soon followed, including a board game and a lunch box. Fans would even copy her distinctive eye look with their own set of Twiggy fake eyelashes.
Many models endure inferiority complexes and Twiggy was no different. However, instead of thinking like the models of today, she thought she was too skinny and hated the way she looked. She stated in an interview, “I hated what I looked like, so, I thought everyone had gone stark raving mad.” Twiggy’s look comprised of three qualities: her stick thin figure, a boyish haircut, and strikingly dark eyelashes.” However, these eyelashes were not as she she stated, “Back then I was layering three pairs of false eyelashes over my own and would paint extra ‘twigs’ on my skin underneath.’
Twiggy started acting in the 1970s, making her film debut in Ken Russell’s musical The Boy Friend (1971) with Tommy Tune. More movie roles followed, including appearances in The Blues Brothers (1980) with John Belushi and Madame Sousatzka (1988) with Shirley MacLaine. Twiggy also enjoyed some success on the stage. In 1983, she made her Broadway debut in My One and Only with Tommy Tune.
Over the years, Twiggy has also made numerous television appearances as well. She was briefly co-presenter of ITV’s popular This Morning program in 2001. On American television, Twiggy also served as a judge on Tyra Banks’s popular modeling-competition show America’s Next Top Model.
Twiggy became the face of Marks & Spencer in 2005. In addition to modeling for the company, she sells a line of clothing through its website. Twiggy has also been a model for Olay beauty products in recent years. She also remained a subject of great interest and fascination with several books and documentaries made about her life and career. In 2009, Twiggy: A Life in Photographs was published.
In 1977, Twiggy married actor Michael Witney. The couple had one daughter, Carly, before Witney’s death in 1983. She married her second husband, actor Leigh Lawson, in 1988. Twiggy is an advocate of animal welfare and is recognized for her support of breast cancer research groups.
Lesley Lawson. (2014). The Biography.com website. Retrieved 10:57, Sep 08, 2014, from http://www.biography.com/people/twiggy-9512626.