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From Swinging London to Southwold - Happy 70th birthday, Twiggy

PUBLISHED: 11:30 19 September 2019 | UPDATED: 15:16 19 September 2019

Dame Twiggy Lawson in the royal box on day nine of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon.  PICTURE: PA IMAGES

Dame Twiggy Lawson in the royal box on day nine of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. PICTURE: PA IMAGES

PA Wire/PA Images

Supermodel, actress, TV presenter, singer and now a Dame... Twiggy turns 70 today. Here we look back at her unique career and her links with East Anglia

1960s supermodel Lesley 1960s supermodel Lesley "Twiggy" Lawson holds her Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire award for services to fashion, the arts and charity, following an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace, London. Picture: PA IMAGES

She might now be officially known as "Dame Lesley Lawson," after being appointed in the New Year Honours - but to millions she will always be simply Twiggy.

Reportedly, when Prince Charles invested the fashion legend with her title in March, he said: "About time you got this."

The award was given for Twiggy's services to fashion, the arts and charity, and is recognition for how she has inspired generations, becoming beloved by the nation - and holding a special place in the hearts of many in East Anglia.

Although she started out as an icon of Swinging London, Dame Twiggy is one of the many celebrities to have fallen in love with our region.

She and her husband, actor Leigh Lawson, have a home near Southwold, the town where her modelling career was famously relaunched in 2005.

Marks & Spencer's executive marketing director Steven Sharp was eating a meal at The Crown pub in the town when she walked in - and after their chance encounter she went on to become the face of M&S.

The 1960s supermodel Lesley The 1960s supermodel Lesley "Twiggy" Lawson arrives at Buckingham Palace, with her husband Leigh, where she will be made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to fashion, the arts and charity, during an Investiture ceremony conducted by the Prince of Wales. PICTURE: PA IMAGES

Twiggy talked about her love of Southwold in a TV show presented by Alan Titchmarsh back in 2010, walking across the seafront, visiting the pier and enjoying some fish and chips, as well as visiting Dunwich and Walberswick.

She has also told of how she loves shopping at Suffolk markets, and has shown her support for local charities, as well as national causes.

Reinventing herself over the decades

Despite being best-known as that skinny teenager in the iconic black-and-white images, Twiggy has reinvented herself over the years, and is now almost equally recognised as the glamorous older woman from the M&S ads.

I remember her best, though, as a singer on Top of the Pops in the 1970s, with a cascade of golden hair, when she had a couple of hit records.

Here I Go Again was the most successful, but my personal favourite was Please Get My Name Right, with a catchy tune I can still hum more than 40 years later.

The 1960s supermodel Lesley The 1960s supermodel Lesley "Twiggy" Lawson is made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to fashion, the arts and charity during an Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace, London. PICTURE: PA IMAGES

Not much danger of anybody failing to get her name right, of course. She is one of the small number of celebrities known to everyone by just one name.

Twiggy was born on September 19, 1949, in Neasden, North London. Her original name was Lesley Hornby, but she was nicknamed "Twigs") because of her naturally slim figure.

Her mother, Nellie, was a factory worker and her father, William, was a carpenter.

In her early days, she worked as an assistant at a London hairdresser's, and at the age of only 16 she was named as the "Face of 1966" by the national press, after her photo was spotted on a salon wall.

Twiggy became internationally famous and was one of the very first supermodels, despite being a little shorter than some top catwalk names at 5ft 6ins.

As she recalled at her Buckingham Palace investiture: "Obviously what happened to me was a one off, being a schoolgirl one night and then being world-famous within three months."

Twiggy arriving for Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition Preview Party 2017 held at Burlington House, London.  PICTURE: PA IMAGESTwiggy arriving for Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition Preview Party 2017 held at Burlington House, London. PICTURE: PA IMAGES

After her fame reached America, she was featured on the cover of Vogue in 1967. However, she later recalled being "terribly homesick" on her visit to the US for the photoshoot with photographer Richard Avedon.

Her fame went alongside that of the Beatles, as part of the "British invasion" of the US.

Merchandise launched in her honour during the 1960s included false eyelashes and even a special Twiggy Barbie doll, as well as her own line of Twiggy dresses.

From modelling to singing, acting and presenting

During her modelling career, Twiggy was photographed by many great names including Cecil Beaton, Norman Parkinson and Bert Stern.

And 10 years ago the National Portrait Gallery marked her 60th birthday which a special exhibition described as a "photographic biography".

Twiggy with a photograph of herself by Barry Lategan at a special reception in central London in 2001, where she was honoured by Cosmetic Executive Women UK. Picture: Michael Stephens/PATwiggy with a photograph of herself by Barry Lategan at a special reception in central London in 2001, where she was honoured by Cosmetic Executive Women UK. Picture: Michael Stephens/PA

Branching out from modelling, in the early 1970s she launched her acting and singing careers, and took her first starring role as Polly Browne in The Boy Friend, Ken Russell's adaptation of Sandy Wilson's show, a pastiche of 1920s musicals. She won two Golden Globe awards as a result.

Twiggy went on to appear in a number of other films, including the thriller W and a cameo role in cult classic The Blues Brothers, and made her West End debut in 1974 in Cinderella.

She also released a number of records during the 1970s and 80s, including the albums Twiggy and Please Get My Name Right. Aside from her own recordings, she famously appeared with David Bowie on the sleeve of his album Pin Ups in 1973,

Twiggy continued singing and releasing recordings over the years, including Romantically Yours, an album of love songs she released in her 60s, featuring a collaboration with her friend Bryan Adams.

In the early 1980s, she played Eliza Doolittle in an acclaimed TV production of Shaw's Pygmalion, and was nominated for a Tony award for her role in the Gershwin musical My One and Only, which ran for nearly two years. She has also taken many other acting roles on both stage and screen over the years.

The 1990s saw her launch her own ITV series, Twiggy's People, where she interviewed many famous names, including Lauren Bacall and Dustin Hoffman. She went on to make other interview series, and has also presented other shows, as well as recently being a judge on hit US show America's Next Top Model.

Supermodel-turned actress Twiggy in 1999. Picture: Fiona Hanson/PASupermodel-turned actress Twiggy in 1999. Picture: Fiona Hanson/PA

In 1998 she published her autobiography, Twiggy in Black and White, which became a bestseller.

Then in 2005, after that meeting in Southwold, she returned to modelling for M&S, and was credited with reviving the store's fashion image. She has gone on to launch her own range of clothing for the store, and has also now designed her own range of glasses frames for Specsavers - showing yet another side to her talents.

Mini skirts, hot pants and platform shoes - the fashions we loved

Twiggy is closely associated with 60s fashions such as mini skirts, which became a must-have fashion item in the 1960s, being associated with Mary Quant and Swinging London.

Many women from East Anglia who shopped for the latest fashions as teenagers in the 60s and 70s remember wearing minis, along with hot pants, knee-high boots, flares and bell bottoms and platform shoes.

And male dedicated followers of fashion recall kipper ties, Cuban-heeled boots, wide-collar shirts and outrageous ties.

Sue Day wearing the latest fashions in Ipswich in the 1960s. Picture: SUE DAYSue Day wearing the latest fashions in Ipswich in the 1960s. Picture: SUE DAY

Sue Day, who grew up in Ipswich but now lives in Norfolk, recalled some of her favourites. She said: "In the 60s I had trousers which were white at the front and black at the back, and a silver lurex trouser suit.

"I also had a black and white catsuit and a silver velvet hot pants suit."

Ipswich Remembers member Gillian Chuter recalled: "My uniform was red bib hot pants and a black polo jumper in the early 70s Just In boutique at Corder's."

Jenny Cook said: "Hot pants, mini skirts, hippy kaftans with flowers in hair -all part of my mis-spent youth! Happy times for young people then."

Sue Gould added: "Love my hot pants," while Rita Cook remembered wearing the combination of hot pants and maxi coats. Linda Banks is another member with fond memories of her hot pants around 1970-71.

Sheila Maile, a member of the Norwich Remembers Facebook group, said: "I remember one particular pair of hot pants I wore often - they were emerald green velvet."

Sue Day wearing the latest fashions in Ipswich in the 1960s. Picture: SUE DAYSue Day wearing the latest fashions in Ipswich in the 1960s. Picture: SUE DAY

Another group member, Liz Woodford, recalled a spot of trouble with her hot pants.

She said: "I had a pair of turquoise suede hot pants that split up one side seam during a visit to the Tower ballroom in Yarmouth. Had to stick them together with elastoplast from the violation assistant!"

And Francesca Johnson's fashion memories were of "knitted ponchos and crochet swimsuits.. that stretched if you dared to swim in them."

John Roberts shared his footwear memories, saying: "Blokes in the 70s wore platform shoes, higher the better, though the flares often hid them."

Judy Rimmer writes: "Not exactly platforms, but I remember wearing four-inch denim wedges from morning to night in the mid-70s - I really loved them, and, although people kept telling me I would trip over or my feet would go over sideways, they never did.

"Funny, they are just about the only heels I have ever worn - easy to balance on than stilettos!"

Wymondham youth club fashion show in November 1965. Picture: Archant ArchiveWymondham youth club fashion show in November 1965. Picture: Archant Archive

A Hot Pants competition at Murray Road Youth Club Ipswich in 1971. Picture: ArchiveA Hot Pants competition at Murray Road Youth Club Ipswich in 1971. Picture: Archive

Jarrold's fashion show in Norwich, February 23, 1966. Photo: Archant LibraryJarrold's fashion show in Norwich, February 23, 1966. Photo: Archant Library

Ipswich Remembers member Linda Banks photographed in 1971 Picture: LINDA BANKSIpswich Remembers member Linda Banks photographed in 1971 Picture: LINDA BANKS

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