HELMUT NEWTON 1972 Helmut Newton shot this layout in the streets of Paris in 1972 for Vogue. Featuring Linda Morand, who bore such a striking resemblance to Jackie O that for a moment it fooled everyone. Richard Avedon sent a telegram of congratulations. Jacqueline was ready to sue….but Linda’s name was mentioned in the text as a “certain client.” As the Viscountess de Dorne she had many designer dresses in her personal wardrobe.
It was 1966 and now the new English sensation was Twiggy, with her short blond hair and androgynous look. Vidal Sassoon of London, who had cut Mary Quant’s hair, had just opened an ultra-modern salon in Manhattan. I discussed it with Eileen who was all for it. She made an appointment and Sassoon was delighted with me and I with them. I became a “house model”, meaning I would get free haircuts and color for allowing them to use my pictures in the salon and for the hair magazines.Christopher Brooker of Vidal Sassoon chopped off all my hair and created a cute little head hugging Beatle type haircut on me, very close-cropped and longer on one side than the other. At first, I hated it! I thought I looked like a pinhead and refused to be seen in public without a long full fall, which I attached to the top of my head with pins and combs or a long dark wig with bangs.
The winter was a cold one in New York City. Trudging along slushy sidewalks, avoiding dirty grey snow piled high along the curbs, punctuated by bright yellow spots of doggie pee. I pushed on. Unlike successful models, I still had to walk everywhere. Wearing an authentic US Navy pea coat and a pair of navy sailor pants I had bought for a few dollars at the Army/Navy store on Fourteenth Street and a red ribbed turtleneck sweater, I braved the hostile elements. Underneath, long underwear completed the ensemble. Fortunately, I was so skinny that the extra bulk didn’t look bad. The long wig kept my head very warm, and I wore a jaunty nautical cap on top. This was my uniform, very chic and very warm. On my feet were practical rubbers, but I changed into my new Capezio boots, immaculate and white, in the vestibules of the studios. I stuffed my wet boots into a plastic bag and put it into my ever-present model bag. If only they had invented bags with wheels or even back packs.
One day Ford sent me to show my portfolio to the photographer, Gosta Petersen, whose wife was the fashion editor of the NY Times. This was the first important photographer. I had to walk there from Penn Station, almost sixty blocks in a light, stinging snow. I was freezing by the time I got there to his large studio on Lexington Avenue at 87th Street. Climbing the old wooden stairs, I entered a high ceiling studio with many windows. A tall, handsome and smartly tailored gentleman, Petersen was a Swedish-born illustrator-turned-photographer, who preferred to shoot high fashion photographs with lesser-known models he chose himself. He was working on new methods, incorporating multiple images in compositions that captured the spirit of Mod fashion but also his models’ individual personalities. Eileen Ford thought he might like my wide-eyed look.
I didn’t realize that the big hair look made me look like everybody else. I was being compared to Kathy Carpenter and Jackie Kennedy. Eileen knew I should have a distinct, modern style. I had to get used to it and had a lot to learn about style and having my own brand.
Future photographer superstar Arthur Elgort was Gosta Petersen’s young assistant. Gosta said, “I like your cheekbones and big eyes, but you have way too much hair. If you had short hair, I would book you for a ten-page spread in Mademoiselle. He and Artie were shocked into laughter when I ripped that hairpiece off my head in two seconds flat, revealing the ultra-chic little asymmetrical Sassoon cut. Gosta picked up the phone, called Eileen personally and booked me 10 pages.
That phone call changed my life forever. I was now in the big time. As soon as people were told that I was going to appear in Mademoiselle I was a hot property. Suddenly my phone was ringing off the hook with prestigious modeling jobs. They featured me on the cover of Mademoiselle, with the ‘do’.
The Sassoon Look caught on with editors and overnight I on the covers and/or the pages of many fashion and beauty magazines as well as major Junior fashion ads, catalogs and pattern books. in a period of about 6 months. My new look helped to promote the Betsey Johnson, Mini-Skirts, Go-Go boots, and the whole Mod Look, Carnaby Street/London Invasion. I was a favorite with designers who sold their clothes in the ultra-chic boutique Paraphernalia. The money was pouring in. I bought clothes for my younger sisters and tried to get them into modeling too, but they weren’t interested. Soon after that, I went to Paris and like Wallis Franken, I never came back. I worked in Paris a few years, but I became engaged and then married to a man who did not like me to be a model. I concentrated more on painting and writing, just for fun. More to come…..
Linda Morand: Superchick 1966
Famous for her uncanny resemblance to Jackie Kennedy, the former First Lady of the United States and a Style Icon.
Linda updated her Look to a Super Mod image with a Vidal Sassoon Haircut and clothes by Betsey Johnson. The fashion world dubbed her Superchick.
Modeling in Paris
In the mid summer of 1966 I was an art student, studying fashion illustration in New York City. Because I was so tall and thin, people were constantly encouraging me to try to be a model. I did not think I had a chance, but after a slow start I was accepted by the Ford agency and sent to Paris to pose for the magazines and walk the runway of Pierre Cardin and Jean Patou and others. I was under contract to Paris Planning.
The Paris Planning agency was on Rue Tronchet in Paris, near the Madelaine, a monumental church with columns. I remember going up an elevator into a beautiful, very Mod office, decorated in a very futuristic style with white walls, gleaming glass, plastic and chrome. They had an overhead slide show of all the models playing, projected on the wall, quite innovative at the time. Many of the top American models of the day were in the show. They had added my pictures from Mademoiselle.
Francois Lano, the owner was such a dear, so fastidious and good humored. He was dapper, elegant and well dressed with a little mustache, who treated the models as ladies. Maria was his partner. I remember they were measuring our hips. They were excited about sending me over to Pierre Cardin for a fitting. I would be modeling his spring 1967 Collection on the runway for private clients, exclusive buyers and the invited World Press. Diana Vreeland and all the top editors were going to be there, including my editor friends from Mademoiselle, Nonie Moore and Deborah Blackburn.
These pictures have resurfaced today in the book Cardin: 60 Years of Innovation.
With all the new media attention, Cardin needed girls that would look good in the glare of the flashbulbs at the end of the runway. He decided he would have the current crop of new young American cover girls and editorial models. So the opportunity was opening up for more American photo models to conquer the sacred runways of Paris. Forget about the fact that we had no idea how to walk properly. None of us ever did runway in New York. All that mattered is that we would look pretty on camera.
The regular house mannequins were still used for private showings to the actual clients, the aristocrats and movie stars that could afford these super expensive one of a kind fabrications. They hated us for taking their places at the main press show, and we really couldn’t blame them. In New York, we had to put up with the influx of Swedish, Danish, German, Dutch, Swiss, French and British models, being imported by the Ford Agency. It was the survival of the fittest. Models were sent to Europe to get tear sheets from European magazines.
There were no model scouts, no great chains of modeling schools, no Internet to post your pictures to. If you wanted to be a model you could find out who was the best agent and send your pictures in. Ford used to get 1000 pictures a week from would be models.
About this time I met my lifelong friend, the irrepressible Susan Brainard. She was the best friend of Wallis Franken, who stayed on in Paris for years.
Gregg Nystrom is an artist living in Houston,
TX. All his life he has been fascinated with
drawing people, especially their faces. The
movie stars from Hollywood and the beauties
of the modeling industry particularly held his
interest. From the silent stars of the 1920s to
the modeling greats of the 1960s, they were all
inspirations to him. As a child, he always loved
miniature things, and this combined with his
fascination for drawing people has evolved into
his paper doll artwork which is now being
recognized around the world.
Having grown up in the 1960s, Gregg still
vividly remembers the bright colors and mod
patterns of the fashions and those things have
stayed with him. He has always been
interested in the models in the fashion
magazines, wanting to find out more.
SEE GREGG NYSTROM ON MINI MAD MOD 60S.COM