THE MODEL INDUSTRY
In 1966, a teenager named Lelsey Hornby had her hair cut and colored by Leonard, a celebrity hairstylist in London.
Images of Lesley taken by Barry Lategan were hung in Leonard’s salon. A reporter from the Daily Express newspaper saw the photos and wrote an article declaring Twiggy (Lesley’s childhood nickname) as “The Face of 1966”. Twiggy was an overnight sensation. One month after the Daily Express article, Twiggy posed for her first shoot for Vogue. Only 5’ 6” tall, with a thin frame and an androgynous figure, she had a fresh look perfectly suited to the fashions of the late 1960s.
In 1967, Twiggy flew to New York and was immediately overwhelmed by a press corps as large as the one that greeted the Beatles’ American arrival. A few days later, Melvin Sokolsky started a series of photo shoots with her. Sokolsky had originally hired one bodyguard for crowd control, but after a mob sceneoutside Altman’s department store ended with a sobbing Twiggy being hustled into a limousine by police officers, he hired 8 additional bodyguards.
For the next three years Twiggy helped define swinging London, and she remains today an internationally recognized name and face. With her waif like figure, boyish hair cut and striking eye lashes, she created an image that would epitomize an era.
Twiggy became the idol for millions of teenage girls of the 60’s revolution.
The violence and chaos caused by the outbreak of civil war forced Alek Wek and her family to flee their small village in Sudan.
After years of upheaval and her father’s death from surgical complications, her family decided to leave their homeland. In 1991, Wek moved from Sudan to Great Britain. While shopping in a London market in 1995, she was discovered by a model agency scout. Her distinctive looks quickly caused a stir in the world of fashion.
In 1997, Gilles Bensimon photographed Wek for the cover of Elle. Alek described the shoot itself and the overwhelming reaction to what was her first magazine cover. “Everything just fell into place, and it was the quickest shoot I’ve ever done. He dressed me in just a pure white Armani jacket, open to my navel. He was joking around as usual and I was smiling and laughing. ‘Don’t stop smiling, but stay still for one second,’ he said. I stopped. He took the shot. And that’s the one that ran on my very first cover. I was quite proud of how I looked. Gilles made no attempt to hide mynatural features – my full lips, my skin, my tightly curled hair. It was a magnificent picture, printed on an all-white background, with gold type.
The issue sold like crazy and it seemed that every newspaper and magazine in America wrote about how the cover challenged our traditional conceptions of beauty. The reader response was overwhelming. Thousands of women…wrote in to praise the cover. Almost all of them said they found the cover shot liberating. ‘Hey – thanks for putting me on the cover. Finally I have someone I can identify with,’ wrote one girl.”