The Face of the ’60s, Jean Shrimpton, is once again in the glossy pages of British Vogue. At 33, the famed model has been wooed out of retirement by photographer David Bailey and a $3,500 fee to advertise a Coty skin-care product. It was Bailey who created the original “Shrimpton Look,” and she has said, “I owe everything that I am to him. He taught me that I must have a mind as well as a body.”
Raised on a 75-acre farm in Buckinghamshire, Shrimpton went to London at 17 to be a secretary, was spotted by another photographer at a polo match and lured into modeling. Eventually it meant a romance with Bailey which ended in 1964. Although he has since married and divorced Catherine Deneuve, lived with model Penelope Tree and is now married to model Marie Helvin, he and Jean have remained friends.
After Shrimpton arrived in New York in 1963, editor Diana Vreeland put her on the cover of Vogue 19 times. At $120 an hour, Shrimpton helped popularize miniskirts and long wispy eyelashes. Nicknamed “The Shrimp” (despite her 5’9½”), she soon had a generation of imitators wearing her long swinging hair with bangs and pouty mouth. Even department store mannequins were modeled after her. In 1967 she made her only movie, Privilege, got bad reviews, and in 1970 Shrimpton closed her assignment book for good.
She lives these days with writer Malcolm Richey in a cottage in Cornwall, meanwhile scrounging for antiques which she sells at a shop in Truro, the county seat. “I suppose I could have earned a lot more money,” Shrimpton says. “But I turned my back on it for the simple life. I’ve never been rich and I’ve never respected money. It brings out the nasty side of people.”