Having grown up on a farm and received her education at a convent school, future supermodel Jean Shrimpton was a student in a London secretarial college in 1960 when a chance meeting with a film director led her toward a modeling career. The timing was as right for her particular look as it was for her countrywoman Twiggy’s when she broke large much later in the decade. Shrimpton had the bright-eyed youthful look that European fashion editors wanted as a way of embodying the new decade and a new post-War Britain, while still serving up the high-cheekboned elegance that defined high-fashion modeling in the 1950s. She was a bridge between the old world style of the immediate post-War years and the youthquake of the looming decade of change in the 1960s.
Which isn’t to suggest she was just some sort of placeholder. Her rise was meteoric and she quickly appeared on the covers of Vanity Fair, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and eventually, all the world’s leading fashion magazines. Glamour magazine named her Model of the Year in 1963. She was reported to be the highest paid model in the world several times over during her career and among the many superlatives bestowed upon her, she was called “the most beautiful girl in the world,” possessing “the most beautiful face,” aka “the face of the moment” or sometimes just “The Face.” She’s also credited with nearly single-handedly introducing the world to the mini-skirt, after she was paid £2,000 by a textile company to wear a scandalously short (for the time) dress on a tour of Australia in 1965.
Nicknamed “The Shrimp,” Jean Shrimpton became a symbol of the Swinging London style of the early to mid-1960s; one of the first models to combine a pop star’s level of fame with a high-fashion career. The first of many generation- or decade-defining “It Girls” to come.
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