Woman taking picture of new model on fashion show

Runway show (© oksanazahray - stock.adobe.com)

The 1960s witnessed the rise of iconic supermodels whose allure and influence left an indelible mark on the fashion world. Twiggy, with her signature pixie haircut and doe-eyed charm, became the embodiment of the Swinging Sixties and a symbol of mod style. The ethereal beauty of Jean Shrimpton, often referred to as the “It Girl” of the decade, graced countless magazine covers and epitomized the elegant yet free-spirited spirit of the era. The statuesque and glamorous Veruschka brought an exotic and avant-garde dimension to the fashion scene, captivating audiences with her striking presence and striking poses. With the countless runway icons of the decade, the best supermodels of the 1960s stood out in the crowd and paved the way for the future of fashion.

Twiggy, whose real name is Lesley Lawson, emerged as a cultural and fashion icon during the 1960s. Born on September 19, 1949, in London, England, she gained international fame for her distinctive look and role in defining the “Swinging Sixties” era. Twiggy’s meteoric rise to stardom began in 1966 when she was just 16 years old. Her waif-like figure, short cropped hair, and large, expressive eyes captivated the fashion world and the public alike, setting new standards of beauty and style.

The 1960s saw a dynamic evolution of fashion, marked by distinct trends that reflected the era’s social and cultural upheavals. The early ’60s were characterized by the polished elegance of Jackie Kennedy-inspired shift dresses, pillbox hats, and tailored suits. As the decade progressed, the mod movement took center stage with bold geometric patterns, mini skirts, go-go boots, and psychedelic prints, encapsulating the youthful and rebellious spirit of the era.

Let’s go back in time to discover the lovely ladies that defined the ’60s. StudyFinds did the research, consulting 10 expert fashion and lifestyle websites to find the best supermodels of the 1960s. As always, we would love to hear from our audience. Did we miss an icon on our list? Share with us in the comments section below! 

Twiggy (“Twiggy” by oneredsf1 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.)

The List: Best Supermodels Of The 1960s, According To Fans

1. Jean Shrimpton

BBC Four’s “We’ll Take Manhattan” takes TV viewers back to the New York photoshoot with David Bailey that turned Jean Shrimpton into a supermodel. “A confirmed Sixties icon, ‘The Shrimp’ shaped the fashion world’s new taste for slender models, and went on to be described as the ‘symbol of Swinging London’. She and Bailey were lovers for four years. Shrimpton also had a relationship with another Sixties icon, actor Terence Stamp. She later married photographer Michael Cox, with whom she bought the Abbey Hotel in Penzance, still owned and run by the family today,” offers Fashion Telegraph.

Jean was born in 1942, seven years before our number two best supermodel of the 1960s, Twiggy. “By the time Shrimpton was eighteen she had already appeared on the cover of “Vanity Fair,” “Harper’s Bazaar,” and of course, “Vogue” and had worked with many top photographers. Comparing a top model’s life of today to back then, Jean Shrimpton has remarked that not only did ’60s models earn far less money, but they had to arrive at a shoot with their hair and make-up already done,” says Hub Pages.

Twiggy looked up to Jean Shrimpton as her big influence, as did other aspiring models who wished to follow in The Shrimp’s footsteps. “This English model was one of the world’s first supermodels, with her arrival in the fashion world launching a new wave of models from the Swinging Sixties. She also helped popularize the miniskirt and went on to appear on several fashion magazine covers,” explains Did You Know Fashion?

2. Twiggy

Her real name is Lesley Lawson, but she was known throughout the world as Twiggy. “The girl once woke up famous thanks to her trendy haircut and the piercing gaze of her huge eyes. We can say that Twiggy introduced the trend for short hairstyles. After all, women all over the world lined up in hairdressing salons to get the same haircut. Twiggy was one of the greatest fashion muses, her image is even captured in Andy Warhol’s works,” says World Fashion Channel.

However, not only the epic hairstyle made Twiggy famous. It is believed that the girl received the pseudonym because of her thinness. She only weighed 88 pounds and had a boyish figure. “Twiggy had modeled in France, Japan, and the US, and landed on the covers of ‘Vogue’ and ‘The Tatler.’ Her fame had spread worldwide. After modeling, Twiggy went on to enjoy a successful career as a screen, stage, and television actress. As an actress, Twiggy’s role in ‘The Boy Friend’ brought her two Golden Globe Awards,” shares The Vintage News.

One of the most famous models of the 1960s, Twiggy has become a real beauty icon. She was just fifteen when she began modeling and sixteen when she was discovered by fashion journalist Deirdre McSharry, who had spotted a photograph of her. “Labelled as The Face of 1966, Twiggy re-defined standards of beauty and ushered in an age of gamine-like ultra thinness that has never quite dissipated; she is still emulated by models today. Her features have been described as androgynous and indeed, she did have a boyish quality, yet still feminine. Endowed with huge and dreamy ‘I could swim in them’ eyes, delicate features, and fine skin, the 5’6″ model was the female sensation of the ’60s and an emblem of mod style. She appeared numerous times on the cover of every major fashion magazine in the world,” explained Hub Pages.

3. Pattie Boyd

Pattie Boyd is more than a model. She’s also a photographer and author. “Boyd was the first wife of both George Harrison and Eric Clapton. Boyd began her fashion career in 1962, modeling in London, New York, and Paris. She was photographed by David Bailey and Terence Donovan and appeared on the cover of Vogue. Boyd appeared on the cover of the UK and Italian editions of Vogue magazine in 1969, with other popular models of the day, such as Twiggy, who based her early modeling appearance on Boyd,” shares The Vintage News.

To name just a few of the songs written with her in mind, George Harrison allegedly wrote “I Need You” and “Something” about her, while Eric Clapton dedicated “Layla” and “Wonderful Tonight” to her. “A gap-toothed beauty, she appeared on the cover of Vogue (UK and Italian editions) and was also a popular commercial model. Incidentally, both Clapton and Harrison, along with being best friends, wrote songs inspired by her,” explains Did You Know Fashion? 

Boyd exhibited her photos of Harrison and Clapton at the San Franciso Art Exchange on Valentine’s Day 2005, in a show entitled “Through the Eye of a Muse.” “Speaking to The Telegraph about leaving her marriage with Harrison (who had begun excessively using cocaine and having affairs), Boyd, 78, said: ‘It was an extremely difficult decision of mine to make,'” shares Independent

4. Donyale Luna

After being discovered by the photographer David McCabe, she moved from Detroit to New York City to pursue a modeling career. “In January 1965, a sketch of Luna appeared on the cover of “Harper’s Bazaar.” She became the first black model to appear on the cover of a “Vogue” magazine; the March 1966 British issue, shot by photographer David Bailey,” shares The Vintage News.

By the 1970s, Luna’s modeling career began to decline due to her drug use, eccentric behavior, and tendency to be difficult. “Donyale is also known for starring in Federico Fellini’s ‘Fellini Satyricon’. Sadly, Luna’s promising career was destroyed by her drug use and unstable relationships. She died from an accidental heroin overuse, aged only 33,” offers Did You Know Fashion? 

Donyale was known for her exquisite 5-foot-11 frame, razor-edged bone structure, and almond-shaped eyes. “In addition to modeling, she starred in many of Andy Warhol’s underground films, as well as Federico Fellini’s Fellini Satyricon (1970),” says Marie Claire. 

5. Veruschka

The model who became known simply as Veruschka was born Vera Gottliebe Anna Grafin von Lehndorff-Steinort. No wonder why she shortened it. “She was discovered in Florence at the age of 20 and briefly moved to New York City in 1961. She appeared in Michelangelo Antonioni’s cult Sixties film Blow Up in 1966, and 40 years later appeared in Casino Royale,” says Fashion Telegraph.

Veruschka was the daughter of a German count who became a member of the German Resistance. “Veruschka’s fame catapulted when she made a brief appearance in the cult film ‘Blow Up’ in 1966. Photographer Richard Avedon called the German-born model the most beautiful woman in the world. She was also one of the highest-paid models during her time. She still occasionally models, and at 71 she guested at Melbourne Fashion Festival in 2000. She was also part of Giles Deacon’s fall show in London Fashion Week in 2010,” writes Did You Know Fashion? 

Extremely tall, Veruschka was one of the tallest models of the day, at 6’3″ which attracted designers to her. She “started her career in Paris at the age of 20. She modeled both in Paris and Munich and eventually moved to New York,” shares Fifties Web.

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