The perfect Shrimp cocktail
From Jean Shrimpton to Kate Moss, every decade since the 1960s has had its fashion icon, says Chrissie Russell
Published 29/01/2012 | 06:00
Before Linda refused to get out of bed for less than $10,000, before Kate and her waifish insistence that "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels", and long before Gisele donned her angel wings, there was The Shrimp.
The breathtakingly beautiful Jean Shrimpton was the doyenne of the 1960s fashion crowd and a supermodel long before the phrase was born.
Now she has come back into vogue thanks to the BBC4 drama We'll Take Manhattan, which aired on Thursday. It introduced a whole new audience to the photogenic delights of the beatnik beauty, her on/off affair with fashion photographer David Bailey and the iconic Vogue New York shoot that made her the decade's most desirable model.
But just how does one become the face of an era and who else has managed to follow in The Shrimp's famous footsteps?
1960s - Jean Shrimpton
The briefest glimpse at photos of The Shrimp, with her full lips, high cheekbones and gamine, youthful insouciance, and it's obvious what her appeal was.
But at least part of Shrimpton's meteoric rise has to be attributed to her partnership with photographer Bailey. The duo -- who, despite Bailey being married, were also lovers -- generated a magic instantly apparent in the iconic shoots they produced.
As Karen Gillan, who plays the young model in the BBC4 drama, recently remarked: "Would she have made it without Bailey? And would he have made it without her? It was this force of nature when they came together."
Shrimpton had her show-stopping moments -- not least when donning a mini to present the Melbourne Cup -- but, overall, her appeal lay in approachable beauty.
Bailey once said of her: "Jean was the most beautiful girl in the world, but not in a scary way. Few models have that democratic sort of beauty."
The MD of Assets Model Agency, Derek Daniels, agrees. He says: "A lot of people think of Twiggy when they think of the 1960s but Twiggy's modelling career only started at the end of the decade and was actually very short and she had a quirky, unusual look. The Shrimp was a classic, everyday beauty."
1970s - Grace Jones
Sometimes the world wants approachable beauty and sometimes it wants someone totally alien -- Grace Jones was this.
From slapping ill-fated chat show hosts to stripping in bars, Jones captivated public, designers and photographers alike with her ability to shock and surprise.
Standing at an impressive six feet, with glistening chocolate skin, androgynous flat hair and flaming red lips, she swiftly became an iconic face of the era thanks to the patronage of Andy Warhol and her on/off partner Jean-Paul Goude, who shot her in the now infamous, near-naked Arabesque pose.
A flamboyant, infectious personality meant fashion heads would often forgive her her terminal tardiness purely because she was worth waiting for.
"I shot Grace Jones once and it was incredible," says top Irish fashion photographer Lili Forberg. "She just oozes confidence. There's a special sort of confidence that some models just have. It's nothing that can be learned, but something special that you can't put your finger on but, as a photographer, you just feel it as soon as they step in front of the camera, and Grace Jones had it."
1980s - Elle Macpherson
In the era of The Supermodel, there was one face -- and more importantly, figure -- that embodied the feminine, athletic ideal of the 1980s, just slightly more than the rest.
Aussie beach babe Elle, or Eleanor Nancy Gow, was destined for law school when she decided to earn some money for books by modelling first.
A canny client cast her in a soft drinks commercial, dressed in a red bikini, after which Macpherson spent most of the decade in swimwear.
In 1986, her lycra-clad figure was emblazoned on the cover of Time magazine, not to mention five editions of Sports Illustrated, earning her the moniker The Body.
But what helped set her head and shoulders over the other clothes horses of the day was that Elle was more than just a pretty face and perfect body. That nimble mind may never have made it to law school but she re-routed her thinking skills into business, launching a skincare line, lingerie brand and series of exercise videos.
"There are plenty of good-looking models, but being successful isn't just about good looks and a great figure," says former Miss Northern Ireland and model agency MD Alison Campbell.
"Elle was the original fresh-faced beach babe with a Baywatch look, but behind it she had a great business brain."
1990s - Kate Moss
Asked recently who, out of the many, many stunning women he's worked with, was his favourite, celebrated photographer Rankin replied without hesitation "Kate".
"Kate is just incredible, no one comes close to her," he gushed. "When she's in front of the camera, she's different every time, like she's a different character. People try to be like her but they never quite get there."
Ever since Moss first cast a spell over Corrine Day in 1990 when she snapped the 15-year-old for The Face, the world's top photographers (Mario Testino likewise hailed her "sweetest and sexiest of all") have fallen over themselves to make celluloid magic with the 5ft 7ins Londoner.
Like with Bailey and Shrimpton, the relationship between lensman and muse can be a powerful one. Leading fashion photographer Barry McCall explains: "Occasionally a model comes along who is not only beautiful and an amazing model but also very clued-in and if she meets the right photographer they can really feed off each other's energy and creativity and that's when sparks fly."
He adds: "There needs to be a mutual level of understanding and a visual awareness of art and fashion, as well as a willingness to be creative."
2000s - Gisele Bundchen
After the Moss-inspired waif-chic of the 1990s, there could be no better antidote than the pneumatic curves of Brazilian Bundchen.
The honey-haired, bronzed beauty, was discovered at 14 by model scouts who spotted her wolfing down chips in a McDonald's in Sao Paulo (proving that she, for one, would not be coming out with lines like "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels").
She soon scored her first magazine cover, courtesy of Mario "I was mesmerised by her" Testino, in July 1999, going on to become the highest-paid supermodel of the noughties, raking in a jaw-dropping $35m (€27m) in 2007 alone.
This impressive feat was achieved by sashaying down catwalks -- most notably as an angel for Victoria's Secret -- landing more than 500 magazine covers and becoming the face of more than 20 international brands.
But what made her the darling of the day -- even not-easily-pleased Vogue chief Anna Wintour hailed her as "the model of the millennium" -- was her work ethic, posing in difficult conditions for hours on end and chatting easily with crew members behind the scenes.
"Bundchen is one of the most beautiful faces to ever grace international brands," says Alison Campbell.
"But drive, determination and being polite and co-operative are also good qualities to have. Clients rebook models who are easy to work with and who are co-operative on shoots. Despite what people think, diva, drama queen-type models are not popular with clients."
Polish beauty Daga Ziober looks likely to be a face worth watching and has generated a lot of industry buzz after opening and closing key shows in New York, Paris and Milan, and second generation mini-mes will also play a role in the changing world of fashion.
Just last week, Cindy Crawford's 10-year-old daughter, Kaia Gerber, was revealed to be the face of Young Versace. But the notion of a single person defining a generation is disappearing and it's telling that old hands, like Moss and Macpherson, have both been asked back onto the runway in recent years.
"Modelling is changing so quickly that we don't get a 'face of the decade' any more," says former model and agency boss Andrea Roche.
"So much advertising is given over to actresses and celebrities that models don't tend to get the same world-wide recognition and certainly they don't get it for as long.
"There are a lot of very successful models working, but they don't tend to be household names. We'll not have supermodels like we used to again."