In fashion, second comings are not uncommon. Chanel returned from a long retirement in 1954. Marc Jacobs reinvented himself in the 1990s, after his grunge collection cost him his job at Perry Ellis. Following his split with Gucci, Tom Ford returned in a collaboration with Zegna. Even Zandra Rhodes and Celia Birtwell are back in the swing.
But surely the most pleasing return is that of Twiggy, everybody’s favourite model. During the late-1960s miniskirt era, the whole world looked to London, and Twiggy was the undisputed face – and figure – of fashion. The darling of photographers and editors, she was also loved by the public for her cockney-sparrow perkiness.
What she brought to women was a feeling of confidence based on her heightened ordinariness, in which even her great physical beauty seemed accessible. She symbolised not only the new, youth-oriented approach to fashion (which killed London couture), but also the belief that high fashion could be part of daily life. After Twiggy, the hauteur of previous models, such as Barbara Goalen, was gone for good.
Now in the M&S advertising campaigns, Twiggy has bounced back, older but no less beautiful, and with the same warmth she used to project as a teenager. Women identify with her, and, as every marketing person knows, that identification is the first step toward getting them to buy what she’s wearing.
No wonder Sir Stuart Rose, Marks & Spencer’s executive chairman, is smiling more these days.
(First published March 2006)