The model was just too shy to say no
Twiggy, with her elfin face, distinctive lower lashes, and pixie-short haircut is one of the defining images of the Swinging Sixties. But it turns out that Twiggy didn’t actually want the haircut that made her famous and transformed the world of fashion – she was just too shy to say no.
Last week, the supermodel joined Jessie Ware and her mum Lennie on their podcast Table Manners with Jessie Ware to chat about her life and career. Asked by Jessie whether she actually liked her signature hairstyle, Twiggy tells the story of how it came to be.
It was 1966 and she was a 16-year-old schoolgirl. She went into the Mayfair salon of Leonard Lewis, known professionally as Leonard of Mayfari, to have her hair shampooed and set when Leonard saw her and asked to try out his new haircut on her. Twiggy says she had been growing her hair and initially didn’t want it to be cut. “But I was so shy and I was in this very posh salon in Mayfair so I was a bit too shy to say I don’t want it done and I kind of nodded,” she says. So she returned to the salon the next day and spent the next seven hours having it cut and coloured. Beauty photographer Barry Lategan took her picture – the now iconic black and white portraits – which Lewis put up in the salon. A journalist saw it and the rest is history. “That’s how it all happened,” Twiggy says. “I actually loved it, I mean he was an amazing hair cutter.”
In an interview with Dazed from 2008, Lewis gives his own version of the story of meeting the schoolgirl then still known as Lesley Hornby and cutting off her long blonde hair. “It was a radical step for Twiggs, because, like most girls, she was fond of her long hair, and at one point she seemed close to tears. But I knew it would show off her boyish looks – and no boy had eyes or a neck quite like hers,” he remembered. “Later she said, ‘Looking in the mirror at the back, I saw all these faces staring at me, in a way that no one had ever done before.’”
Also discussed during the podcast chat was Twiggy’s famous painted-on lower lashes which she says she started doing before she was discovered. Twiggy says when she was around 14 she became a Mod and started experimenting with bold make-up to go to a Mod club in Harrow on Saturday nights. “I went to a grammar school so it was quite strict. We wore uniforms and make-up was not allowed. So on the weekends, me and my friends would sit like most teenage girls and play with make-up,” she says. “And that's how that make-up evolved.”
The supermodel also shared that before she was discovered she never would have dreamed of going to a modelling agency herself because she thought that models came from posh families and were at least five foot eight – two inches taller than her five foot six frame. She also says the name Twiggy came from her boyfriend’s brother who gave her the nickname to annoy her.