30.08.2015 - Anna von Stackelberg





At the time of Twiggy’s discovery in 1966, she lived a normal working class teenage life in the north of London, where she had been born as Lesley Hornby on September 19th 1949. Jane Shrimpton being her idol, the 15 year old Lesley had aspirations to follow in her footsteps and become a model as well; an ambition that seemed doomed from the start, as the models of the time were curvaceous with an upper class appeal and Lesley with her super skinny look and working class background did not fit in. None the less, she decided to become a hair model for London’s top hairdresser, Leonard’s of Mayfair, for him to try out his new crop haircut - a decision that would change her life for ever.


When Lesley turned up to have her hair cut on that defining day in 1966, she arrived with cutting edge eye make-up that she and her friends had been experimenting with and that would become her signature look. Trying to imitate the way that her childhood dolls had their eyelashes painted on, Lesley had drawn individual eyelashes below her eyes and layered sets of fake eyelashes on top of her own. When Leonard cut and coloured her hair, giving her a revolutionary short-cropped hairstyle, the look was completely new. The headshots that followed the haircutting session impressed the then fashion editor of the Daily Express so much, that she named Lesley the face of ’66 in a spread featuring the same head-shots with the caption “The Cockney kid with a face to launch a thousand shapes”. Building on a childhood nickname, that referred to her skinny, and twig-like legs, the publication of this article turned Lesley into an over night sensation, and the supermodel Twiggy was born.


The impact the Twiggy look had on the general population was mind-blowing. Her androgynous, doll-faced appearance ran counter to notions of female beauty that pervaded the day. As she once stated in an interview, young girls here age were aspiring to look more like Jackie Kennedy: lady-like and proper. Her playful style blurred the boundaries between male and female and also brought the theatrical into play. It was a freeing of fashion, opening it up to youthful fun and in doing so epitomised the swinging 60’s London mod scene. Teenagers no longer wanted to be like their parents. They wanted to be different and exclaim this difference to the world in their novel approach to styling. Mini skirts, bra-less styles, shift dresses and men’s accessories were the essence of the 1960’s dress revolution, and Twiggy was the spearhead. Within one month of the Daily Express article, Twiggy posed for her first shoot for Vogue. Within one year she had appeared in 13 separate editorials in international Vogue editions. Twiggy quickly became the first classless supermodel about whom the American photographer Cecil Beaton remarked “ the working class girl with money in her pocket can be as chic as the deb. That’s what Twiggy is all about”


When Twiggy arrived in the United States for the first time in 1967, she landed in the middle of UK-mania and was engulfed in a whirlwind of excited fascination. She met everybody, hung out with all the big stars and was photographed by the biggest photographers. Twiggy became so popular during her visit that she even had a Barbie doll made after her. But showing that this young doll-face had higher ambitions than dazzling the world in a fleeting moment of fame, Twiggy had launched her own label called “Twiggy Dresses” that year and had come to the States to promote her own clothing as well as model. Continuing to show that she had higher and complex aspirations, Twiggy retired from modelling in 1970, after four tremendously successful years in fashion, and started working on a carefully planned break through into film. 


After leaving the world of modelling, Twiggy managed to stay relevant and productive for decades. Her acting debut in Ken Russell’s 1971 film “The Boyfriend” was awarded with a Golden Globe for best actress in a musical and most promising newcomer. Over the years she would appear in numerous movies, Broadway shows and on TV, most recently as a judge for “America’s Next Top Model” alongside Tyra Banks. Today Twiggy has returned to the forefront of women’s fashion, designing a line for Marks and Spencer called “Twiggy for M&S” as well as being the face for M&S. Since her initial breakthrough, Twiggy has managed to redefine herself both in terms of style and profession, making the most of the opportunities life presented her with. She has proved over and over again, that she is far more than a pretty face, but also in possession of a subtly determined mind that pushed her to the top in whatever area she chose to excel at.

Short Facts


Twiggy became know as the face of the 60’s with her short cropped hair, distinctive eye makeup and androgynous slim physique, which represented youthfulness and the new-found Sixties freedom


Twiggy is largely seen as one of the first supermodels. She is also the first classless model, opening up the world of fashion to the appeal of the masses.


Twiggy became so popular during her trip to the USA in 1967, that a whole range of memorabilia was produced, amongst others a Twiggy Barbie by Mattel, a Twiggy lunch box as well as Twiggy eyelashes


1949 - Born in Neasden

Born in Neasden on 19.09.1949 as Lesley Hornby, as the youngest of three girls

1966 – Short Hair

In January 1966 Lesley was discovered at the top hairdresser ‘ Leonard’s of London’ after she had her hair cut short to what would become her signature hairstyle 

1966 – Daily Express

On February 23rd 1966 Lesley’s is named face of the year 1966 in the Daily Express and is referred to by her old with her old childhood nickname “Twiggy”. This name perseveres throughout her life.

1967 – Twiggy Dresses

Twiggy launches her own label of dresses called Twiggy’s dresses, aimed at the teenage market.

1967 – USA

Twiggy makes the promotional trip to New York. Whilst in the US, Bert Stern makes three documentaries about her visit. Twiggy also features on the covers of various American magazines, Vogue, Newsweek and Harpers Bazaar.

1967 – Barbie

On the back of Twiggy’s phenomenal success in the USA, Mattel release a Twiggy Barbie doll

1969 - Film

Twiggy is cast by Ken Russell in his film version of 'The Boy Friend'

1970 – Retirement From Modelling

Twiggy retires from her modelling career to pursue a career in film and theatre.

1972 – Golden Globe

Twiggy won two Golden Globes as New Star of the Year and Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for her role in ‘The Boyfriend’.

1974 – West End Debut

Twiggy made her West End stage debut in her role as Cinderella

1973 – Bowie

Twiggy appears with Bowie in the cover of his seventh album ‘Pin Up’

1977 – First Marriage

Twiggy marries actor Michael Witney

1978 – Daughter

Twiggy has a daughter with her husband Michael Witney

1983 – First Husband Dies

Twiggy’s first husband dies of a stroke.

1988 – Second Marriage

Twiggy marries her fellow actor Leigh Lawson in the fall of 1988

2005 – America’s Next Topmodel

Twiggy joins the cast of the US TV show Americas Next Topmodel as one of four judges

2005 – Marks & Spencer’s

Twiggy becomes the face of Marks & Spencer’s


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