But it turns out that the 66-year-old did not care for how she looked. In fact, she hated it. “I was this funny, skinny little thing with eyelashes and long legs, who had grown up hating how I looked,” she has revealed. “I thought the world had gone mad.”
Twiggy’s long career as a top model, recalled in an interview with the Daily Mail’s You magazine, saw her grace the covers of Vogue and Tatler by 17 and the New Yorker magazine devoting nearly 100 pages to the Twiggy “phenomenon” after her arrival in New York.
She would go on to appear on the cover of David Bowie’s Pin Ups album in 1973 – leaning on his shoulder, both wearing painted-on face masks – and appear in Ken Russell’s movie The Boy Friend.
She attributes her success more to her “funny and kooky” personality than her looks: “It was global, almost immediately – being discovered and having that ‘look’ ricocheting around the world – and it’s still out there. Wherever I go in the world, I encounter what I call ‘my little friend who sits on my shoulder.’”
Twiggy grew up as Lesley Hornby in a 1930s semi-detached house in Neasden, north-west London. Her father, Norman, was one of the first of his workmates to buy his own house. Her mother, Nell, was a factory worker. Fame came when the Daily Express fashion editor Deirdre McSharry walked into a Mayfair hairdressing salon and saw her photograph on the wall.
“I was probably the first famous working-class supermodel,” she tells the Mail. “During that period it was more fashionable to be working-class. A lot of wannabe actors who came from posh families decided to cut their accents down. It amazes me today that the royals don’t speak with that old-fashioned posh accent any more. It’s not rough, but it’s not crystal clear-cut, and that started in the 60s.”
Her taste in fashion can be described as conservative or classic, although in her heyday pictures of Twiggy in a miniskirt were ubiquitous. Nowadays, she says she is most comfortable in a tailored jacket with skinny trousers or jeans.
She likes Katharine Hepburn, “who brought polo necks and trousers into fashion. That is so much sexier than a low-cut dress with everything hanging out. Tilda Swinton doesn’t flaunt loads of flesh but she looks amazing. Isabella Rossellini is beautiful, too. And my hero Barbara Hulanicki (founder of Biba) is the most stylish person I’ve ever met.”
Twiggy is also down on high heels: “I can’t walk in them. The only way heels work is if a girl can walk in them. Kate (Moss) walks in heels absolutely brilliantly. But you see these girls tottering down the street in agony. I don’t see the point.”