Jean Shrimptons legendary beauty collided with David Baileys notorious swagger over a photo shoot for a Corn Flakes advert in 1960. The result was a four-year affair that ushered in the 60s and changed the face of fashion, with enduring effect.
Shrimpton promotes this sort of sultry, highly provocative sexuality through Baileys photographs that must have been quite shocking at the time, says Christopher Breward, the co-curator of the V&As upcoming British Design 1948-2012: Innovation in the Modern Age exhibition. There were no other models who were quite so frank. Twiggy has an innocence about her, whereas Shrimpton is more like the cinema stars of that timeJulie Christie, for exampleor the womens pop and rock figures, like Marianne Faithfull.
Its an in-your-face kind of sexuality thats very radical. She establishes a real tradition of the fashion model that goes right through the current generation to Kate Moss.
Well Take Manhattan, BBC4s effervescent account of Shrimpton and Baileys relationship, credits the couple with launching Swinging London. And Shrimpton, of course, gave the mini-skirt one of its earliest and most notorious outings at Melbournes Derby Day races in October 1965.
She completely symbolised this explosion of womens freedom in the sexing-up of fashionable society of the time, and of confidence in the British fashion design world, Breward says. The miniskirt was such a radical shift and all so sudden in the mid-60s, given skirt lengths until then. Its the London scene as captured in David Baileys photographs that caught the worlds attention, and women of Jeans generation that pushed it forward.
More than 50 years after Bailey set his sights on Shrimpton, why do the 60s still resonate?
Its a moment of such quick and exciting changes,Breward suggests. Its tantalisingly within living memory and personal memory, but also, its really weird and out there, a st More