Jean Rosemary Shrimpton (born 7 November 1942 in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire) is an English model and actress. She was an icon of Swinging London and is considered to be one of the world’s first supermodels. She appeared on covers such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, Glamour, Elle, Ladies’ Home Journal, Newsweek, and Time magazines. She starred alongside Paul Jones in the 1967 film Privilege.
Shrimpton graduated from Lucie Clayton’s modelling school at 17 and began modelling in 1960. During her career, Shrimpton was widely reported to be the “world’s highest paid model”, the “most famous model”, and the “most photographed in the world”. She was also described as having the “world’s most beautiful face”. She was dubbed “The It Girl”, “The Face”, “The Face of the Moment”, and “The Face of the ’60s”. Glamour named her “Model of The Year” in June 1963. She contrasted the aristocratic-looking models of the 1950s by representing the coltish, gamine look of the youthquake movement in 1960s Swinging London, and she was reported as “The symbol of Swinging London.” By breaking the popular mold of voluptuous figures with her long legs and slim figure, she was nicknamed “The Shrimp”. Shrimpton was also known for her long hair with bangs, wide doe-eyes, long wispy eyelashes, arched brows, and pouty lips.
Shrimpton also helped launch the miniskirt. In 1965, Shrimpton caused a sensation in Melbourne, Australia, when she arrived for the Victoria Derby wearing a white shift dress designed by Colin Rolfe which ended 10 cm (3.9 in) above her knees. She wore no hat, stockings or gloves and wore a man’s watch, which was unusual at the time. Shrimpton was unaware she would cause such reaction in the Melbourne community and media.
In her article “The Man in the Bill Blass Suit”, Nora Ephron tells of the time when Jean Shrimpton posed for a Revlon ad in an antique white Chantilly lace dress by Blass. Minutes after the lipstick placard hit the drugstores, the Revlon switchboard lit up with calls from women demanding to know where they could buy the dress.
Shrimpton was once engaged to photographer David Bailey. They met in 1960 at a photo shoot that Shrimpton, who was then an unknown model, was working on with photographer Brian Duffy for a Kellogg’s corn flakes advertisement. Duffy told Bailey she was too posh for him, but Bailey was undeterred, and he and Shrimpton subsequently had a relationship for four years, ending in 1964. During the affair, Bailey was still married to his first wife Rosemary Bramble but left her after nine months and later divorced to be with Shrimpton. Shrimpton’s first photo session with Bailey was in 1960 (either for Condé Nast’s Brides on 7 December 1960 or for British Vogue). She started to become known in the modelling world around the time she was dating Bailey. Shrimpton has stated she owed Bailey her career, and he is often credited for discovering her and being influential in her career. In turn, she was Bailey’s muse, in which his photographs of Shrimpton also helped Bailey rise to prominence in his early career. Shrimpton’s other celebrated romance was with actor Terence Stamp. She married photographer Michael Cox in 1979 at Penzance register office when she was four months pregnant with their son Thaddeus (born in 1979). They own and run the Abbey Hotel in Penzance, Cornwall.