Heroines All - A Romantic Charade Starring Jean Shrimpton

Posted by Laura
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Wreathed in roses: Jean Shrimpton as Flora—flowers in her hair and flowers high on the waist of a silk chiffon dress shaded from palest beige to ivory. The tunic top, caught at one shoulder, floats across the body in a rounded line and the skirt, slashed on one leg, falls in uneven layers. By Oscar de la Renta.



In this editorial Jean Shrimpton is possibly the ultimate romantic dreamgirl. At her prettiest (and was she ever not pretty?), with flowers threaded through her hair and tipping her ballet shoes, Jean is luminous dressed in the style of 17th and 18th century aristocrats who costumed themselves as Greek myths for portraits. The original Vogue text lists out a few example—I have included them below, but their choices seem less representative of the final photographs so I have included a few of my own. As a historian, I love clothing and editorials that nod their head to the past. Throughout history styles of clothing have repeatedly cycled, renewing influences from the past—a wonderful book that discusses historicism in dress is Barbara Baines' Revivals in Fashion (1981). Revival clothing styles are my personal favourite (my closet is a jumble of 70s-does-prairie/medieval/Victorian/Edwardian/30s/etc.), with these images making me eager to add some more Regency-inspired gowns to my collection—that Chester Weinberg dress looks like something Miss Elizabeth Bennett would have worn!


Jean Shrimpton photographed by Richard Avedon for Vogue, April 1968. Hair by Ara Gallant.

Lady Hamilton as "Nature" by Romney... Princess Mary as Lely's "Diana"... The Duchess of Cleveland as "Minerva"—all the great 18th-century English beauties who adored to pose as graces and goddesses—romantics all, heroines all. All rolled into one contemporary English beauty and played like a dream in the most ravishing new evening dresses this season..



Oscar de la Renta dress, as before. Capezio slippers (straps and flowers added).



Mathilde de Canisy, marchioness of Antin by Jean-Marc Nattier



As the young Lady Hamilton might have sat for Romney: Jean Shrimpton, a portrait of Innocence in ivory-beige voile—a turban of it with bows at the front and a matching three-quarter length dress all on the bias, tied high with a narrow rouleau and frilled with lace at the neck, the hem, and the tiny puffed sleeves. By Chester Weinberg of Stoffet-Galey & Lord cotton voile.



Lady Hamilton as "Nature" by George Romney, 1782.



One puffed sleeve, one bared shoulder, and a length of white organdie threaded through the hair—an 18th-century Ariadne for a 20th-century summer evening in Chester Weinberg's daisy-strewn white organdie held under the bosom and falling to the middle of the calf.



Marchioness of Queenston by Richard Cosway, 1788.



The muses are heard—and seen as Romney or Reynolds or Cosway might have see the beauties who sat for them—lyrically pretty in their diaphanous Greek dresses, with their hair in delightful disorder. Here, in Sarmi's layers of chiffon, Jean Shrimpton revives the spirit. Clear, soft, skin-pink silk chiffon strapped and wound with moire ribbon, then let loose in a diagonal fall—thigh high on one side, to the floor on the other.



Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland as "Minerva" by Peter Lely, 1662.



Terpsichore in a whirl of white chiffon—white flowers hold it at the neck; chiffon holds it under the boson; and the rest floats to the ground, rounding out from a deep slash. By Sarmi, of Stern & Stern silk chiffon. Adolfo turban. Slippers (ribbons, flowers added) by Selva.



Lady Talbot by Joshua Reynolds, 1782.



Moon goddess: a crescent of sparkles above her brow and glass stars gleam in a river of hair—Jean Shrimpton like a Lely Diana, radiant as dreams... Charles Elkaim hair jewels.



Princess Mary as "Diana" by Peter Lely, 1672.



Nike in wings of chiffon with a wreath of laurel leaves on her head. The dress, layers of palest pink blowing about victoriously in a voluminous open-sided tunic over a loose-falling skirt to the ankles. By Stavropoulos, of silk chiffon with a slip of Abraham silk crepe underneath. Capezio strippy pink sandals.



Anne Dashwood, Countess Galloway as a Shepherdess by Joshua Reynolds, 1764.

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