The Legendary Jean Shrimpton (1971)

Early on in my career at Vogue I was delighted when British Vogue asked me to photograph the legendary Jean Shrimpton, she had been photographed by one of my favourite photographers, Richard Avedon for American Vogue. I could never recall seeing pictures of her laughing so I was hoping that it would be a fun shoot and it turned out to be great.

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She was the ultimate professional, usually I would have to direct the model in some way, but Jean had a natural intuitive, elegance, so my intervention was hardly needed, after the first shot I said jokingly, “You’ve done this before Jean” and we both laughed, and that started the fun and joy of the shoot.

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Jean first come to prominence in the 60s, just as I was finishing art college and she was very famous indeed then. Jean is a truly classic model and all the supermodels that followed her today like Christie Turlington, Donna Mitchell, Linda Evangelista they all followed in her footsteps and today its hard to really comprehend how incredibly famous Jean was at the time.

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When she walked into the studio and I first met her she was, as I expected, exquisitely Jean Shrimpton. She laughed over her coffee and as she disappeared into the dressing room I said that is the spirit I want to capture. She was funny, bright, intelligent and so easy to work with. The shoot sped by she made it, so easy! I love these images of her laughing and in the men’s trouser suit,  where her femininity still shone through, later when it was finished I said,  “It would be great to photograph you again”, “That would be fab” she said, which I did some time later for Vogue.  I was pleased with these images of Jean, except for the one Vogue used for the cover which was not the one I would have chosen (but that was often the case). The one shown here would have been my choice, the expression is softer.  Later Vogue set up another shoot with Jean and my muse Anne Schaufuss, which were really complex double exposures, which I will share at a later date.

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Some years later heard Jean had opened a boutique hotel in Penzance Cornwall.  I stayed there with my American wife for a long weekend. The hotel amazing and very beautifully decorated, like a little country house and it was fantastic to catch up with Jean whose talent as a model cannot ever be over stated and she turned out to be great hotelier too.

 

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