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Jean Shrimpton: Miniskirted Maiden

January 26, 2012

Talent…

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… These are the lovely ladies and gorgeous girls of eras gone by whose beauty, ability, electricity and all-round x-appeal deserve celebration and – ahem – salivation here at George’s Journal…

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What better day on which to post a pictorial tribute to the role model for all models who followed her than today – when, yes, the Beeb’s screening a one-off drama (We’ll Take Manhattan) depicting how she got started with Doctor Who‘s Karen Gillan in the titular role? The subject of that drama and this post is, of course, Jean Shrimpton, the doe-eyed, plummy, utterly lovely, Mod-fashion-wearing-machine who lit up the mid-’60s just as much as The Fabs, The Stones and Michael Caine. Is she a worthy, latest addition to this blog’s Talent corner? I should coco…!

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Profile

Name: Jean Rosemary Shrimpton

Nickname: ‘The Shrimp’

Nationality: English

Profession: Model, actress, antique dealer and hotelier

Born: 7 November 1942, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

Height: 5ft 7in

Known for: Becoming arguably the world’s first supermodel, after being discovered by photographer David Bailey for a shoot in New York for British Vogue magazine’s April 1962 issue. Following this meeting, she and Bailey were in a relationship for four years, during which her profile rose and she became an undeniable face – and star – of the Swinging Sixties; her waifish look and irresistible beauty perfect for the era’s Mod fashions, ensuring she played an instrumental role in launching the miniskirt. She moved from Bailey to Terence Stamp, making her half of one of the era’s most glamorous (if not one of its most happy) couples. Bailey referred to her as his muse, for which she may well have been too for those other legendary ’60s shooters Brian Duffy and Terry O’Neill.

Strange but true: It’s said that Shrimpton helped launch the miniskirt worldwide by wearing one to the Victoria Derby in Melbourne, Australia, on October 30 1965 (see image below) – in actual fact, the reason her skirt was of the ‘mini’ variety was because the designer who accompanied her on the trip, Colin Rolfe, hadn’t brought with him enough material to make it any longer.

Peak of fitness: Pick any of her scenes from the avant-garde Brit flick Privilege (1967), in which she played the female lead opposite Paul Jones from band Manfred Mann (the first of only two films she ever made). Why? Because, unlike in a photograph, on-screen she actually moves, of course…

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CLICK on images for full-size

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Further reading:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2011/apr/30/saturday-interview-jean-shrimpton

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We’ll Take Manhattan can be seen tonight at 9pm on BBC4 (UK and Ireland only)

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Naisy permalink
    January 29, 2012 6:37 pm

    I thought the mini skirt was invented in ’64 but Karen/Jean is seen wearing it on the plane in I’ll take Manhattan in 1962.

    • January 29, 2012 9:23 pm

      Yup, I’ve no idea when it was invented – or whether anybody has actually been able to declare they know with confidence – but it’s a widely held belief that by wearing a miniskirt-esque outfit at the ’65 Melbourne Cup, Shrimpton helped popularise the item around the world in a major way.

      Haven’t seen We’ll Take Manhattan yet, so can’t properly comment on what it features etc (and I’m hardly an expert on clothes history anyway), but I’d be careful on relying on a TV drama for historical accuracy, you know?

      Anyway, thanks for your comment, Naisy… :)

  2. B carol Nelson permalink
    July 19, 2012 1:43 am

    I was wearing a mini in the US by 65. It made it’s way over via the fashion mags. Took a bit of time, but not much.

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