Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Jean Shrimpton: Goddess
Recently, while satisfying my sissy desires to emulate those women who epitomize all that is fabulous, I came across Jean Shrimpton. This lovely English actress/model has appeared on the covers at least a dozen different major magazines, including Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Vanity Fair, Glamour, Elle, Ladies' Home Journal, Newsweek, and Time. She is amazing.
Jean graduated from Lucie Clayton's modeling school at the age of 17 in 1960. Nicknamed 'The Shrimp', she was an icon of Swinging Sixties London, possessing some of the gamine features that also made a huge success of the younger Twiggy. She starred alongside Paul Jones in the 1967 movie Privilege, and was mentioned in the Smithereens song, Behind the Wall of Sleep.
In 1965, Shrimpton caused a sensation in very conservative Melbourne, Australia, when she arrived for the Victoria Derby race during Melbourne Cup week. She shocked everybody by wearing a daring white shift dress which ended high above her knees, a forerunner of the miniskirt which became a worldwide craze (this dress was designed and made by the young fashion designer, Colin Rolfe). To make things worse she wore no hat, stockings or gloves and wore a man's watch, which was very controversial at the time. Shrimpton was blissfully unaware she would cause such reactions among the then staid and prim Melbourne community and media.
In her article "The Man in the Bill Blass Suit", Nora Ephron tells of the time when Jean Shrimpton posed for a Revlon ad in an antique white Chantilly lace dress by Blass. Minutes after the lipstick placard hit the drugstores, the Revlon switchboard lit up with calls from women demanding to know where they could buy the dress.
The fashion trendsetter was also a heartbreaker to many glamorous men she knew during her time as a world famous cover girl (including a stint as the face of Yardley of London). She was once engaged to 60s photographer David Bailey, on whom the David Hemmings character in the movie Blowup was based. They met on a shoot for a Cornflakes advertisement. His friend told him she was too posh for him, but Bailey was undeterred and the two subsequently had a relationship for four years. Her other celebrated romance was with actor Terence Stamp. As one of the most beautiful couples among the trendy denizens of Carnaby Street, and other hang-outs of Mod London, the two seemed a perfect couple to outsiders, but Shrimpton dumped him, citing the actor's narcissism. Stamp has said that the break-up pushed him into anguish and despair, while she was quoted in a newspaper interview saying she doubted he ever loved her.
Shrimpton eventually found a more enduring love with her photographer husband Michael Cox, with whom she has a son, born in 1981. They currently run a small hotel in Penzance, Cornwall. Her younger sister Chrissie was also an actress, romantically linked to both Mick Jagger and Steve Marriott of The Small Faces.