Things You Might Not Know About The World's Biggest Models

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Twiggy, Dazed & Confused May 2008
Twiggy, Dazed & Confused May 2008Courtesy of Leonard Lewis

We present 20 little-known facts about the likes of Twiggy, Tyra Banks and Veruschka

The modeling agency Ford first formed in 1946. By 1990 we were on first name terms with the “big six” and today the moniker of the “world's first supermodel” is still in dispute. From pink dance sequences (Suzy Parker) to women’s hygiene adverts (Lee Miller) and a brazen beauty forever band from Disney Land (Grace Jones), here are twenty little known facts about the hopelessly beautiful who won’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 (Linda Evangelista).

1. Twiggy – In 1967 Twiggy needed a thesaurus. Among Twiggy’s assets, wrote Vogue, are “a Cockney accent, a lack of sophistication and of conceit, a limited vocabulary, and a very sweet nature.”

2. Suzy Parker – Audrey Hepburn's offbeat role in the film Funny Face (1957) was apparently inspired by Suzy Parker. Parker even made a fashionable two-minute cameo appearance in the "Think Pink" sequence after director and photographer Richard Avedon recommended her for a part. Fred Astaire's character was modeled on Avedon himself.

3. Jean Shrimpton – In 1962, Shrimpton almost didn't board that flight from Heathrow to New York with (married) boyfriend David Bailey that turned her into a star, appearing on the front cover of June’s Vogue that same year. Aged 19, Shrimpton had never been on an aeroplane before but she was coaxed on by Bailey’s words – "come on Jean, it's like a 29 bus with wings."

4. Kate Moss – Moss played the sister of Little Britain character Vicki Pollard for a Comic Relief sketch in 2006 – memorably offering to give David Walliams a 'gob job' for a packet of Quavers. She also had a cameo role in BBC’s Blackadder, playing Maid Marian in “Back & Forth” (1999). Colin Firth starred as William Shakespeare.

5. Peggy Moffitt – Moffitt was a ‘method’ model. For Moffitt, modeling was a performance for which she prepared "like a method actor," drawing on acting and mime. Unlike other models on the runway "who come out and walk all the same and look gorgeous, like Ziegfield girls, I'd walk knock-kneed and pigeon-toed if the dress demanded it. I'd look for the inner life of the dress, and when I did a whole collection, I'd figure out how to play each."

6. Jamie Bochert – Bochert once played back-up for Patti Smith in Paris. Smith was in town playing a handful of gigs, while Bochert was there with her band Frances Wolf. Meeting via a mutual friend, Smith invited Frances Wolf to play with her the following night at the Saint-Germaine church..

7. Janice Dickinson – Sylvester Stallone paid for Dickinson's boobs. “I wanted to have softer breasts, so I went from saline to silicone. Sylvester Stallone paid for those, so I figured, why not? Free (boobs). I’m in.”

8. Erin O’Connor – The 6’1” model once appeared on a first-class stamp shot by Nick Knight, making her one of the only living people to have appeared on a postage stamp.

9. Christy Turlington – The mannequins for the New Costume Institute galleries at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, whether man, women, or child, have one thing in common: Christy Turlington's classic face. 120 castings of her head were commissioned by the Museum and were designed by Ralph Pucci.

10. Pattie Boyd – Smith's Crisps led Boyd to marry a Beatle. American director Richard Lester encouraged her to be the Smith’s Crisps girl, starring in TV adverts and doing promotional appearances in London. Around the same time, Lester was hired to direct The Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night’ (1964). He offered Boyd a small role (her part was shortened to the line "Prisoners?") as a schoolgirl named Jean in the opening scene. Boyd married George Harrison in January 1966.

11. Marisa Berenson – Family friend Diana Vreeland set up Berenson’s first shoot with photographer Bert Stern, launching her career. The legendary editor-in-chief of American Vogue used to send memos around saying, "Marisa's neck has grown two inches this year. I want you to emphasise her neck." Or "Her skull is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. I want you to pull her hair back and photograph her head." Another, somewhat sinister admirer of Berenson's was Salvador Dali, a great friend of her grandmother, Elsa Schiaparelli. When visiting him in Spain at the age of 13, Berenson recalls him wanting to paint her in the nude, proclaiming she had "hip bones like cherry-stones."

12. Naomi Campbell – In 1994 Campbell released an album titled Baby Woman. The album was a commercial flop, selling a mere 175 copies in the first two weeks of its release and didn't make it past No. 75 in the UK charts. However, the album did find relative success in Japan, where it sold over a million copies.

13. Veruschka – The German-born model catapulted to international fame in just three words, “here I am” in the 1966 film Blow Up. 22 years prior, when Veruschka was only 5 years old, her father Heinrich Graf von Lehndorff-Steinort, a member of the German Resistance, was executed for allegedly attempting to assassinate Adolf Hitler in the 20 July plot.

14. Donyale Luna – Donyale Luna loved toying with people. Making up stories about herself, designed to amuse or shock, she told one boyfriend that her parents were killed in a car accident and that she was adopted, and once informed the Italian press that she ate three kilos of meat a day. When asked where she came from, Luna replied, "I'm from the moon, darling."

15. Grace Jones – Grace Jones has a lifetime ban from Walt Disney World in Florida due to indecently exposing her breasts whilst she was performing live.

16. Dorian Leigh – Leigh, nicknamed  “Happy Go Lucky” by Truman Capote, may have inspired the character of Holly Golightly in Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's. The character was reportedly inspired by Capote’s close friendships with a series of New York society figures, including Oona O’Neill, daughter of the playwright Eugene O’Neill; the heiress and fashion designer Gloria Vanderbilt; actress Carol Grace; and writer Maeve Brennan. According to Capote’s biographer Gerald Clarke, “half the women he knew … claimed to be the model for his wacky heroine.”

17. Kristen McMenamy – The doyenne of Ford models, Eileen Ford told McMenemy that she'd never get a job unless she had her droopy eyelids fixed. Categorically refusing, McMenemy was convinced that her unusual style would appeal to photographers. Later, in 1993, the model shaved off her eyebrows to accentuate her signature style; the move created a booking frenzy.

18. Iman – Iman can’t borrow husband David Bowie’s clothes because in her own words “honey, I have hips... it will never fit.” David and Iman met on a blind date arranged by their mutual friend, hairdresser Teddy Antolin at a dinner party in Los Angeles on October 14th 1990. He proposed in Paris, popping the question under the Pont Neuf. On a side note, she likes to do needlepoint to relax.

19. Tyra Banks – Banks appeared as one of the morphing faces at the end of the 1991 Michael Jackson video "Black or White".

20. Lee Miller – Miller was the first ever model to appear in a sanitary towel advert for Kotex. This more or less brought a halt to her modelling career in the USA, with Miller leaving for Paris shortly after to study photography with Man Ray.