Celebrating her 50th anniversary in the fashion industry, Twiggy is a name – and face – that needs little introduction. Even her voice is instantly recognisable: “I’ve rung people up on the phone and they’ve said, ‘Is that Twiggy?’” she laughs.
Catapulted to supermodel status at 16, Twiggy – then Lesley Hornby, a skinny schoolgirl from Neasden – became an overnight sensation when the Daily Express named her the ‘Face of 1966’. “The whole thing was bonkers really,” she says. “My dad was so excited, he ran into my room with the paper and said, ‘Look, Les, it’s you!’”
The original mod with her gamine frame, boyish crop and fluttering false lashes, she was the polar opposite to the hourglass ‘housewife’ silhouette that had dominated the 1950s. Redefining what it meant to be beautiful, she became muse to the world’s most significant photographers, from Cecil Beaton to Helmut Newton. “My life changed forever,” she says. “American Vogue sent me to Paris and then it just exploded, global!”
Along with The Beatles and David Bowie, Twiggy became the icon of a generation after just four years
of modelling. But her fame didn’t end there. In 1971, film director Ken Russell cast her in The Boy Friend, which won her two Golden Globes and paved the way for her career highlight: starring on Broadway in My One and Only.
“What happened to me in the Sixties was amazing, but I had almost nothing to do with it,” she says modestly. “I learned to model and I loved it. But to go on Broadway and perform to 1,500 people every night was the most wonderful experience of my life.”
Twiggy now has a clothing line and beauty range for M&S. “I wanted to do fashion design when I was at school – talk about coming full circle!” Her style advice? “Clothes should be comfortable and fun, but also effortless. Don’t get hung up on your age – it’s about attitude.”
With decades of industry experience under her belt, it’s advice worth taking. “I can’t believe it’s been 50 years,” says Twiggy. “I feel so blessed with everything that has happened to me – it’s given me the chance to do extraordinary things.”