Iconic Spotlight : Jean Shrimpton, by Terry O’Neill

Jean Shrimpton was one of the world’s first supermodels and widely considered to be one of the key faces of the sixties. Reportedly discovered by David Bailey, Bailey and Shrimpton formed a formidable duo in front of and behind the camera, he as photographer and she as his muse. Bailey photographed Shrimpton, nicknamed ‘The Shrimp’, for several key magazines and they were a highly visible, celebrity couple up until their break-up in 1964. “There was no-one else like her. She was a beautiful person and because she was being treated as a ‘living doll’, I decided to take her to a doll hospital. There’s something strange and unsettling about looking at a room full of dolls, looking at you. Especially then, when all the dolls had strange faces and really big eyes. Then having Jean in front, our very own living doll, with her legs outstretched, I just thought this would make a great picture.”

 

After her break-up with Bailey, Shrimpton embarked on another celebrity relationship, this time with actor Terence Stamp. “I don’t remember who called me up for this photo, but I was asked to take a photo that exemplified the new faces of the sixties and the first image that came to mind was them. “Terry (Stamp) was living at The Albany at the time. The Albany is that very famous and secluded row of flats between Regent Street and Piccadilly Street, you’d never guess it was there unless you knew to look. I went over and did a zoom portrait of them and out of those rolls of films came several images, but the one that struck me the most was when Terry looked the camera straight in the eye. It’s his intensity combined with her loveliness that makes this a great portrait. I think it’s great, anyway,” recalls O’Neill.

“This image, taken around 1963–1964, helped cement their reputations as icons of the Swinging Sixties. “They were new, young and fresh— that was what the sixties was all about.”

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