Big-eyed, twig-limbed Twiggy is Britain’s newest top model
By Eugenia Sheppard
New York – It was worldwide fame when a truck driver on Fifth Avenue leaned out of his seat and yelled at the tall, blonde teenager in the orange mini-coat eight inches above the knees, “Hi, Twiggy.”
Twiggy’s big, blue eyes, set in fantastic black lashes, brightened and she waved her hand. On their first morning in New York, the world’s top model from London and her constant companion and business manager, Justin de Villeneuve, were wandering along the sidewalk in the snow storm.
They were wearing the same color, orange. Justin, who has more hair than Twiggy, had put on an orange shirt and Paisley tie and added a rose on his lapel from the basket sent by Vogue editor Diana Vreeland. Her orange fleece tent coat came from her own fashion collection, with a Twiggy label, which she has brought here to sell. If she and Justin weren’t exactly holding hands, their little fingers were interlocked. They were hunting for a good English breakfast.
“I want the whole thing,” said Twiggy when they settled at a table in a hotel dining room a few minutes later. “I want Puffed Wheat with cold milk, two fried eggs, bacon, toast, and a cup of tea. And don’t forget the butter.” Goodness knows, she doesn’t have to count calories.
Twiggy and Justin arrived only the other day from London for a six weeks’ visit. Most of the time will be spent here while she poses for fashion magazines and for a series of ads at $120 an hour.
They may be able to spend a couple of days in California, mostly so Twiggy can see Disneyland. Justin, though, is terrified of the things that go round and round in amusement parks; Twiggy is afraid of planes.
At Kennedy airport, they had the biggest turnout of photographers in years, one of the officials told Justin. Afterwards, some of their friends arranged for a helicopter to fly them into the city.
In New York, they are staying at photographer Bert Stern’s new apartment that hasn’t been lived in yet. A few essentials like chairs, a table and cots are arranged sparsely on the brown paper that covers the floors. They brought with them their own bodyguard and their own photographer.
The bodyguard, Teddy the Monk, is a London flower seller. “He’s a real Cockney and something of a wit. Very cheeky.” Herschel, the Swedish photographer, will record their trip for the European press.
Her new fashion collection
In the apartment, Twiggy (aka Lesley Hornby) showed me her first fashion collection. It is designed for teenagers like her, though, of course, no one is. They love it in London, and it ought to go over just as big here.
She makes no bones about not designing the collection. They have two designers, Pamela Proctor and Paul Babb, both from the Royal College of Arts. Professor Janie Ironside, who has trained so many bright young English designers, came to the opening. “Everything depended on her reaction,” she said. “She was really excited.”
Twiggy’s voice is pleasant, even with its Cockney intonation. And, after all, it’s chic for English duchesses to talk that way these days.
There are 42 pieces in the first collection, and she brought about thirty with her in her size, and held up one after the other, showing the giant label. It’s a great little collection for color, style, and price. There are cotton tent dresses and some with waists.
Twiggy herself likes a small, fitted top and a slight flare to the skirt. There are dresses that end in cuffed Bermuda shorts and culottes and some evening pajamas in fantastic prints. For Bert Stern’s big dance in their honor she plans to wear the pink and green pajamas with a matching vest top.
In London, most of the big stores have opened Twiggy shops, where most of the dresses sell for about three pounds ($15). Twiggy was there in person the other day for the opening of a Twiggy shop at Peter Robinson on Oxford Circus. She was mobbed by English teenagers.
“There are better models than Twiggy, if she’ll pardon me,” said Justin, “like Veroushka, but the teenagers don’t identify with her as they do with Twiggy.”
In a couple of weeks, their manufacturers will fly here. The clothes will be shown professionally to stores, but Twiggy won’t have time to be there.
Justin, too, already has his label on a line of shirts. “They’re just like mine. I always have three buttons on the cuffs.”
The essence of youth
Twiggy and Justin aren’t adventurers. They are hard-working. They are eager and interested and ready to go along with everything. Twiggy with her half dreamy, half pugnacious little face and older Justin have extraordinary charm.
“Some people think of me as a 10 percenter,” Justin said. “But I don’t exploit Twiggy. She is sort of my girlfriend. We have lots of fun.”
Later in the afternoon, they turned up at Mr. Fred of Fur and Sport to replace the old $30 coat Twiggy bought originally on the Portobello Road. Though she favored a bleached raccoon (she likes furry furs) she deferred to Justin at every point. “He’s sort of my boyfriend.”
“I guess we are sort of sweethearts,” Justin said.