Little Bits of History

October 30

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 30, 2017

1965: Jean Shrimpton appears at Derby Day at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Australia. She was born in rural England in 1942 and was what is considered to be the world’s first supermodel. She began her modeling career at the age of 17 and was brought to prominence with photographer David Bailey’s help. As she appeared on more magazine covers, her popularity grew. In 1962, the Victoria Racing Club in Australia was seeing waning interest in racing event and added a new twist to their four day Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival event. They began to offer Fashions on the Field competitions in order to attract more women to the racetrack.

In 1965, DuPont de Nemours International hired Shrimpton to go to the Carnival and judge the Fashions on the Field event. She would be traveling for two weeks and as the highest paid model in the world, demanded a £2000 fee. In comparison, The Beatles had been paid £1500 to tour Australia just the year before. The four days of the event included this day as well as Melbourne Cup Day, Oaks Day, and Stakes Day. Shrimpton was paid to promote DuPont’s new acrylic fabric, Orlon. DuPont sent material to Colin Rolfe in order that he might create a suitable wardrobe for the 5 foot 10 inch model.

Styles of the time demanded one be encased in an appropriate dress, a fantastic hat, beautiful accessories including gloves and stockings. Melbourne’s elite horse racing fans were quite demanding in the attire requirements. DuPont did not send quite enough material to Rolfe and he was faced with a challenge. On this day, Shrimpton wore a simple white shift dress without hat, gloves, or stockings. And even more shocking, the dress was a scandalous four inches above her knees. The minidress cause a bit of an uproar and it said to be one of the pivotal moments in women’s fashions.

Shrimpton was given many different names over her modeling career and it was claimed she was the most beautiful woman in the world at the time. She was part of the trend away from voluptuous figures and towards the gamine look. She was part of the Swinging London scene in the 1960s. She was named, in 2009 as one of the 26 best models of all time and in 2012 as one of the 100 most influential fashion icons. Today, she is married to Michael Cox and together they own Abbey Hotel in Penzance, Cornwall, England. It is managed by their son, Thaddeus.

The difference between style and fashion is quality. – Giorgio Armani

Fashion fades, only style remains the same. – Coco Chanel

Fashion is about dressing according to what’s fashionable. Style is more about being yourself. – Oscar de la Renta

Fashion is about dreaming and making other people dream. – Donatella Versace



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