Jean Rosemary Shrimpton born 7 November 1942 is an English model and actress. She was an icon of Swinging London and is considered to be one of the world’s first supermodels. She appeared on numerous magazine covers including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, Glamour, Elle, Ladies’ Home Journal, Newsweek, and Time. In 2009, Harper’s Bazaar named Shrimpton one of the 26 best models of all time, and in 2012, TIME named her one of the 100 most influential fashion icons of all time. She starred alongside Paul Jones in the film Privilege (1967).
Born in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, and brought up on a farm, Shrimpton was educated at St Bernard’s Convent School, Slough. She enrolled at Langham Secretarial College in London when she was 17. A chance meeting with director Cy Endfield led to an unsuccessful meeting with the producer of his film Mysterious Island (1961); Endfield then suggested she attend the Lucie Clayton Charm Academy’s model course. In 1960, aged 17, she began modelling, appearing on the covers of popular magazines.
Shrimpton’s career rose to prominence through her work with photographer David Bailey. They met in 1960 at a photo shoot that Shrimpton, who was then an unknown model, was working on with photographer Brian Duffy for a Kellogg’s corn flakes advertisement.
Shrimpton’s first photo session with Bailey was in 1960 either for Condé Nast’s Brides on 7 December 1960 or for British Vogue. She started to become known in the modelling world around the time she was working with Bailey. Shrimpton has stated she owed Bailey her career, and he is often credited for discovering her and being influential in her career. In turn, she was Bailey’s muse, and his photographs of her helped him rise to prominence in his early career.
During her career, Shrimpton was widely reported to be the “world’s highest paid model”, the “most famous model” and the “most photographed in the world”. She was also described as having the “world’s most beautiful face” and as “the most beautiful girl in the world”. She was dubbed “The It Girl”, “The Face”, “The Face of the Moment”, and “The Face of the ’60s”. Glamour named her “Model of The Year” in June 1963. She contrasted with the aristocratic-looking models of the 1950s by representing the coltish, gamine look of the youthquake movement in 1960s Swinging London, and she was reported as “the symbol of Swinging London”. Breaking the popular mould of voluptuous figures with her long legs and slim figure, she was nicknamed “The Shrimp”. Shrimpton was also known for her long hair with a fringe, wide doe-eyes, long wispy eyelashes, arched brows, and pouty lips.
Shrimpton also helped launch the miniskirt. In 1965, she made a two-week promotional visit to Australia, sponsored by the Victoria Racing Club, and a local synthetic fibre company who brought her out to promote a range of new dresses made of Orlon. She caused a sensation in Melbourne when she arrived for the Victoria Derby wearing a white shift dress made by Colin Rolfe which ended 5 in (13 cm) above her knees.Shrimpton was unaware she would cause such a reaction in the 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 advertisement in an antique white Chantilly lace dress by Blass. Minutes after the lipstick placard was displayed at the drugstores, the Revlon switchboard received many calls from women demanding to know where they could buy the dress.
Shrimpton was photographed in 1971 by Clive Arrowsmith, again for British Vogue.
Shrimpton and Bailey began dating soon after they began working together, and subsequently had a four-year relationship that ended in 1964. Bailey was still married to his first wife Rosemary Bramble when the affair began, but left her after nine months and later divorced her to be with Shrimpton.
Shrimpton’s other most celebrated romance was with actor Terence Stamp. In 1979, she married photographer Michael Cox at the register office in Penzance, Cornwall when she was four months pregnant with their son Thaddeus, who was born that same year. They own the Abbey Hotel in Penzance, now managed by Thaddeus and his family.
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