Twiggy (born Lesley Hornby; 19 September 1949) is an English model, actress, and singer, now also known by her married name of Twiggy Lawson. At 16, she became the first prominent teenage model. She was known for her androgynous looks, large eyes, long eyelashes, and thin build.
“The Face of 1966” by the Daily Express and voted British Woman of the Year. By 1967, Twiggy had modelled in France, Japan, and the U.S., and landed on the covers of Vogue and The Tatler. Her fame had spread worldwide.
After modelling, Twiggy went on to enjoy a successful career as a screen, stage, and television actress. She has hosted her own series, Twiggy's People, in which she interviewed celebrities, and also appeared as a judge on the reality show America's Next Top Model. Her 1998 autobiography, Twiggy in Black and White, entered the bestseller lists.
Since 2005, she has modelled for Marks and Spencer, most recently to promote their recent rebranding, appearing in TV adverts and print media, alongside Myleene Klass, Erin O'Connor, Lily Cole and others.
Twiggy is best remembered as one of the first international supermodels and a fashion icon of the 1960s and 70s. Her greatest influence is Jean Shrimpton,whom Twiggy considers to be the world's first supermodel.Twiggy has also been described as the successor to Jean Shrimpton. In January 1966, young Lesley Hornby had her hair colored and cut short in Mayfair at The House of Leonard, owned by celebrity hairdresser Leonard. The hair stylist was looking for models on whom to try out his new crop haircut and he styled her hair in preparation for a few test head shots. A professional photographer Barry Lategan took several photos for Leonard, which the hairdresser hung in his salon. Deidre McSharry, a fashion journalist from the Daily Express, saw the images and asked to meet the young girl. McSharry arranged to have more photos taken. A few weeks later the publication featured an article and images of Hornby, declaring her “The Face of ’66.” In it, the copy read: "The Cockney Kid with a face to launch a thousand shapes ... and she's only 16! - The Daily Express, 23 February 1966.
Lesley's career quickly took off. She was 5'6" tall (short for a model), weighed a mere 6½ stone (41 kg, 91 lbs) and had a thin, boyish 31-22-32 figure. Her hairdresser boyfriend, Nigel Davies, became her manager, changed his name to Justin de Villeneuve, and persuaded her to change her name to Twiggy (from “Twigs”, her childhood nickname). De Villeneuve credits himself for Twiggy’s discovery and her modelling success, and his version of events is often quoted in other biographies. Ten years her senior, he managed her lucrative career for seven years, overseeing her finances and enterprises during her heyday as a model.
Twiggy was soon seen in all the leading fashion magazines, commanding fees of £80 an hour, bringing out her own line of clothes called “Twiggy Dresses” in 1967, and taking the fashion world by storm. “I hated what I looked like,” she said once, “so I thought everyone had gone stark raving mad.” Twiggy’s androgynous look centered on three qualities: her stick thin figure, a boyishly short haircutand strikingly dark eyelashes. Describing how she obtained her prominent eyelashes, now known as Twiggys, she said, “Back then I was layering three pairs of false eyelashes over my own and would paint extra ‘twigs’ on my skin underneath.”.One month after the Daily Express article, Twiggy posed for her first shoot for Vogue. A year later, she had appeared in 13 separate fashion shoots in international Vogue editions. Twiggy arrived in New York in March 1967 at JFK airport, an event covered by the press. "The New Yorker, Life and Newsweek reported on the Twiggy "phenomenon" in 1967, with the New Yorker devoting nearly 100 pages to the subject."That year she became an international sensation, modeling in France, Japan, and America, and landing the cover of Paris Vogue in May,the cover of US Vogue three times, in April, July and November, and the cover of British Vogue in October. In 1967, an editorial on p. 63 of the March 15 edition of Vogue described her as an "extravaganza that makes the look of the sixties." The Metropolitan Museum of Art's 2009 catalogue of Style: Model as Muse Embodying Fashion states that "Twiggy's adolescent physique was the perfect frame for the androgynous styles that began to emerge in the 1960s. The trend was manifested in a number of templates: sweet A-line dresses with collars and neckties, suits and dresses that took their details from military uniforms, or, in the case of Yves Saint Laurent, and explicit transposition of the male tuxedo to women. Simultaneously, under the rubric of 'unisex,' designs that were minimalistic, including Nehru suits and space-agey jumpsuits, were proposed by designers such as Pierre Cardin and Andre Courreges, and, most famously in the U.S.A., by Rudi Gernreich." Twiggy has been photographed by such noted photographers as Cecil Beaton, Richard Avedon, Melvin Sokolsky, Ronald Traeger, Bert Stern, Norman Parkinson, Annie Leibovitz and Steven Meisel.
Twiggy and the magazines featuring her image polarised critics from the start. Her boyishly thin image was criticized as, and is still blamed for, promoting an "unhealthy" body ideal for women."Twiggy came along at a time when teen-age spending power was never greater," said Su Dalgleish, fashion correspondent for the London Daily Mail. "With that underdeveloped, boyish figure, she is an idol to the 14- and 15-year-old kids. She makes virtue of all the terrible things of gawky, miserable, adolescence." At the height of her fame, Mark Cohen, president of Leeds women's shop had an even harsher view: "Her legs remind me of two painted worms." Yet Twiggy had her supporters. Diana Vreeland of Vogue stated, "She's no flash in the pan. She is the mini-girl in the min-era. She's delicious looking." In recent years Twiggy has spoken out against the trend of waif-thin models, explaining that her own thin weight as a teenager was natural: ""I was very skinny, but that was just my natural build. I always ate sensibly – being thin was in my genes."