I was going to call this post “I trudged through Hyde Park in a snow blizzard to interview Twiggy” because that’s EXACTLY what happened…!
However, despite the snow that day in the capital and despite my train being almost an hour and a half late, I DID get an interview with one of the most iconic supermodels ever and I DID get to talk to her about the new range of glasses she’s designed for Specsavers. I’ve mentioned this many times on my social media and blog posts and I’m so glad I can bring you some fantastic insights into Twiggy’s life, thoughts and opinions at last. I met her very briefly for a photo at the Specsavers Wearer of the Year awards about 18 months ago and I knew she was going to be lovely…
I was right, she was even more lovely than I could have hoped for!
So down to earth and intelligent, breathtakingly attractive and someone who has a lot of interesting stories to tell and strong opinions to share. She talked about everything from her thoughts about ageing to wearing heels, and from her favourite photographer to what she eats.
But first of all – the glasses!
The Aurora Twiggy for Specsavers range
She’s joined forces with Specsavers once again to design another range of Twiggy for Aurora glasses (and sunglasses). I was invited by Specsavers to interview her about the new range, try some of the new pairs on AND enjoy afternoon tea at the rather plush Knightsbridge Hotel. This was all perfect except for the fact that it was the day the snow started in London, and although I left two hours between scheduled train arrival and the interview, by the time my train actually got in I had just 30 minutes to get to Knightsbridge from Paddington station (Google said it would take 35 minutes on foot).
I made an executive decision – after pondering tube, taxi and walking – to walk it, cutting straight across Hyde Park. Normally I can take 15% off a Google-estimated walking time but this was in a snow blizzard. Still, I could trust my feet to keep going, but I couldn’t trust transportation not to get held up.
The interview was scheduled for 14:00; I somehow made it there at 14:01. But I was a hot, sweaty MESS. So unfortunately the photos of me on the day are not great (Twiggy looks a vision) because I was wearing so many layers for freezing temperatures that I overheated from the fast walk and my hat ruined my hair. Therefore let’s start with the photos of my new glasses form Twiggy’s range – I chose these on the day and went to my local Specsavers to get an eye test and the new frames glazed with my new prescription.
(As always, the service was impeccable. I’ve been to three different Specsavers branches now and the service doesn’t waver between them. If you don’t know where to get your eyes tested I urge you to go there… you won’t regret it.)
I decided to go for something quite different to the styles I normally go for, so I chose two completely new-to-me shapes. Sort of a cross between round and square, the dark-framed Aurora Amber frames are very striking and have a lovely gold detail on the arms:
And the second pair I chose was the Aurora Opal, a large gold-framed pair (they look more silver in the photo but they’re definitely gold):
The Opal pair have a slight 80s feel to them which I love – I’ve been wearing very square (straight across at the top) shapes for a while now and I’m really glad I went for something different. My best styling tip for clothes is to try on something you like but think “Oh I’d never wear that, it’d never suit me!” – do the same with glasses. I almost never tried the Opal on at all because I was convinced they wouldn’t suit me, but when I did I surprised myself. The Amber are an almost identical shape but they give me the choice of light and dark frames by going for one gold pair and one tortoiseshell pair.
And as the Twiggy for Aurora frames are 2 for 1 you can do exactly what I did and have two contrasting pairs for contrasting looks or moods. As you’d expect from Twiggy, the range is very, very stylish… we had such fun trying on the frames with her. She’s very passionate about her new career designing clothes and accessories (as you shall find out in the interview!), and I think it was genius of Specsavers to ask Twiggy to join their design team.
So without further ado I shall show you a few pictures of the day as well as a summary of the interview. Twiggy sure can talk (how lovely that she was so open and happy to talk about her career as well as her new glasses range) so it’s really only a small part of what she talked about. Nikki of Midlifechic was there as well with me so we shared the questions between us.
So enjoy my interview of one of the people I used to paint on canvasses, draw pictures of and buy photography books containing her countless fashion photos (she signed my “Twiggy – A Life in Photographs” book) – they say never meet your idols, but in this case I can happily say that rule has been seriously broken!
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF TWIGGY’S NEW GLASSES RANGE? COMMENT BELOW! BUT FIRST, THE PHOTOS AND INTERVIEW…
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Afternoon tea and an interview with Twiggy
HOW gorgeous is this woman?! She’s 68. How amazing for older women everywhere to have someone like her to look up to.
Above: Twiggy about to sign my book. We all cooed over the picture of her as a little ‘un (Twiggy included).
Nikki: How do you manage to stay relevant?
I never really think about it. I’ve been blessed in my life because different opportunities have come up.
I didn’t plan to be a model; I was as shocked as everybody else when it happened to me. I was probably the first working-class model of note because it was girls of posh families who became models, then they met their rich husbands and got married.
I loved Jean Shrimpton and I had her all over my wall – I was mad about clothes and fashion and I made all my own clothes and was a mod. I wouldn’t have known HOW you become a model, let alone TRY to become a model. In hindsight probably why it happened to me was because I was the new look. But that’s what I just looked like – we didn’t have makeup artists, that was all my own makeup.
” We didn’t have makeup artists, that was all my own makeup”
Catherine: So that’s true, that you did your own makeup on shoots! On a day off did you wear the signature eyeliner and eyelashes?
I was a schoolgirl and went to a girls’ grammar school so you’d have been kicked out for wearing makeup in the week! But being a mod and being like teenage girls are with fashion and makeup, me and my friends used go out at weekends. We used to go to a mod club at Harrow, so the whole week we talked about what we were going to wear.
It was like a uniform in those days – a bit like hipsters today – to be a mod you had to dress like that. I must have looked hysterical with my legs: the nylon mac, Hush Puppies shoes, navy pleated skirt to here [she marks a point above her knee] – I looked like Olive Oyl! The only thing that was different was that I had long hair.
N: You HAD to have it cut, did you?
I didn’t have to, I chose to. They wanted to do a photograph of me – a friend of a friend who worked on a magazine. On weekends I used to paint my eyes like that and wear what I’d made – mini skirts were just coming in – and I went along to this hairdresser to have my hair styled. Leonard who owned it was a big hairdresser and said, I want to do my new haircut on you. So he put the photograph by Barry Lategan up in his salon – and that should have been the end of it. I just went back to school with my new haircut.
But a big fashion journalist called Deirdre Mcsharry, a client [of Leonard’s], went in and said, I love that picture, who’s the girl? He told her it was a schoolgirl called Twiggy, and Leonard called my home number and my mum answered – he said, A journalist wants to talk to your daughter.
It was different times then. There weren’t the magazines there are today. Newspapers didn’t write about models. There may have been one fashion page a week about a new frock, but that was it.
It was completely out of leftfield that this happened. So I went to Fleet Street and met this really nice lady who gave me tea and cakes and asked me lots of questions. I went back to school, and two weeks later it was the centre pages: “Twiggy, the face of ‘66”. And that day my life completely changed.
C: And when you were young you were interested in studying fashion?
Way back when I was at school, yes. I wanted to go to art school – that was my plan – I always loved drawing and I was obsessed with fashion. I made most of my own clothes at that point.
C: So now that you design clothes and accessories do you like the fact that it’s come full circle for you?
I didn’t plan that, but yes – first I came back to modelling. Steven Meisel [the photographer] rang me and said he wanted to do a 10-page spread for Italian Vogue and asked if I’d do it. I did it and it opened other doors for me. It’s lovely because it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I wanted something where I’m around, that doesn’t take me away from my daughter and granddaughter and other grandchildren. I want that time because they’re not little forever – family time is important as well.
AND my husband – we’re celebrating our 30th anniversary this year.
“I’ve always been very boyish, funky, rock n roll-y I suppose you’d call it”
N: Specsavers have told us that this range is influenced by your signature style, how would you describe that?
Oh god… how do you explain your own style?! I’ve always worn what I want to wear from being a mod and making my own clothes. Even if you look at early pictures of me – not fashion pictures of me because you’re wearing what they’re asking you to wear for the magazine – I’ve always been very boyish, funky, rock n roll-y I suppose you’d call it.
C: You’re a big fan of brogues aren’t you?
I got my first pair of brogues in 1967. You couldn’t buy them anywhere for women. I was obsessed with Fred Astaire, he was my idol. He always wore correspondents [US: spectator shoes], which are the two-tone brogues, brown and white with the lace-up. I wanted a pair so desperately, and the only way I could figure out how I could get a pair was to go to a man’s shoemaker who used to make all the Prince of Wales’ shoes – I think he was in Savile Row. He said I was the first woman client he ever had. I’ve still got them, the most beautiful pair of handmade correspondents. They are so beautiful. And then, years later, when they started coming back into fashion, I thought yeah – I was a bit ahead of the time!
I can’t wear high heels. I’m into cowboy boots – I’ve got one pair, they’re amazing: lime green feet, with really pointy toes, and orange legs. They are so gorgeous, I’m going to dig those out for the summer.
N: When you’re designing, where do you get your inspiration from?
Everywhere. I’ve got a team I work with, but they’ll tell you I’m quite bossy. I spend my whole year sketching things, or taking photographs of things, a lot comes from my wardrobe… I’ve got a VERY big wardrobe [laughs].
N: And is it the same for the glasses?
Well it’s different because it’s one item, and I have to work very closely with the designer because on my own I could make a jacket, but on my own I couldn’t make a pair of glasses!
So I’ve got a gorgeous guy called Stig who’s their main designer at Specsavers, and when they approached me to do it, I said I’d love to, and he brings all the new technology to me. Also, when you start a range, after the first sales you get to know which ones sell better than others so you have to do what the customer wants as well.
I wanted to do some bright colours – everything we already had was very dark which is lovely, but I wanted to do some brights. These are the first pair [below, top right, the Aurora Ruby] which I think are gorgeous:
They’re dark on the outside but you’ve got the lovely red on the inside. And it was important to me that they were comfortable and light. I think if you wear glasses you’re very aware if a pair of glasses are too heavy because they’re uncomfortable. I wear glasses mainly for television, driving and theatre and for readers – I don’t wear them all the time.
I am too frightened to get my eyes lasered. I’m not very brave. That’s why I’ve never gone under the knife”
N: You’ve never been tempted to get your eyes lasered?
I am TOO frightened. I’m not very brave. That’s why I’ve never gone under the knife!
C: If you could choose a fantasy photoshoot for your eyewear collection, what photographer would you choose and what designer would you wear (living or dead)?
If it was living or dead, it would be Richard Avedon in Bill Gibb.
C: I’m so glad you said Richard Avedon! He’s my all-time favourite fashion photographer.
He was an extraordinary man and took some of the most amazing pictures of me. And the designer Bill Gibb was my friend – he was a genius. He was Scottish, the loveliest, sweetest man in the world, so gentle. He came long in the late 60s or early 70s, when everyone was wearing mini skirts and tight jumpers and he designed these fantasy clothes. He made my outfit for the premiere of The Boyfriend – they were medieval high-waisted dresses in tapestries and ribbons which were all flowy. He was nothing to do with what anyone else was doing.
He died at 44 and I miss him even now, we were really close friends.
N: As one of the strongest women to be successful after 40, would you say this is a good time to be over 40? Are things getting easier? What do you see changing?
Oh, absolutely! Somebody was talking just today about how one of the big houses have taken on Isabella Rossellini again which is brilliant. I think people have become so savvy, because I used to say 20 years ago they’re doing anti-wrinkle cream on 18 year olds, it’s ridiculous. We’re not stupid, it’s like: get a grip!
And this whole thing that’s happening with women in the industry [TimesUp]: unfortunately it’s come out of a horrible thing, but I think everyone’s just had enough. Hopefully it’s a turnaround.
When I think of my mum at my age we’re planets apart; she was an older lady. I mean, I AM an older lady but I don’t feel old. The world’s your oyster in a way, I’m in a very different position to lots of people, I feel very fortunate that I can pick and choose what I do. If I have ideas I can take them to people – they don’t always say yes, I get told no too!
N: Do you think it’s quite liberating being an older woman now then?
I can only judge by how I feel, I don’t understand people who get depressed about getting older. Everyone gets older and everyone dies, so you sometimes meet people who say, Urgh I’ve got another birthday coming – well, have a great time! You get lots of presents, it’s great! You can’t stop it, so why spend the energy getting upset about it? It’s not in my psyche, I don’t understand that. I wouldn’t like to be 21 forever, I can’t think of anything worse.
“I think with age you do get more confident. If I don’t want to do something I don’t do it”
N: What age would you be if you could go back?
Probably 35, 36? In your 20s you’re still very Ooh I don’t know, I’m not sure… I think it’s about confidence. I think with age you do get more confident. If I don’t want to do something I don’t do it.
C: Do you have any tips for staying healthy and youthful?
Everyone’s different, and in a way I’ve had a very blessed life. I’m not over fanatical about exercise, though I think it’s important: I think walking is important so I try and walk a lot. I do pilates once a week, but I’ve got a funny back so that really helps it.
I love to cook. My husband loves to eat, I love to eat; I am very fanatical about where I get my food from. I eat organic when I can – I like to know where it’s from if it’s not organic, if it’s free range or covered in a load of sprays because I do think you are what you eat.
I’ve got very dry skin so I moisturise a lot. I never leave makeup on overnight, that’s my number one rule, it’s disgusting leaving your sheets covered in horrible things!
“I’m lucky because I’ve always been on the slender side, but I don’t believe you should diet and I don’t believe you should deny yourself”
I’m always so busy, I’m always running around as I’m very energetic. I don’t believe in diets. I’m lucky because I’ve always been on the slender side (though I’m not that skinny anymore). I’m like my dad, I’ve got his genes! I don’t sit and eat cake – I don’t watch what I eat, but I don’t eat a load of rubbish. I hate anything with cream – if you cook with cream I can’t bear it. I very rarely deep fry anything, occasionally I’ll treat myself to chips in a restaurant but that’s probably once a month. I’m aware that [pointing] that’s crap, but I don’t believe you should diet and I don’t believe you should deny yourself.
I think you have to find a healthy eating regime. I found a good rule for me is, as soon as I’m full I stop eating. It’s just a mindset really. Leigh [Lawson, her husband] doesn’t have a sweet tooth so luckily we don’t have puddings very often. If we go to a restaurant I might share a pudding with somebody.
But I do like my chocolate, but I’ll only have two squares. I like me two squares at night [laughs]!
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Don’t miss Specsaver’s #LoveGlasses article about Twiggy’s exclusive new range. Thank you to Specsavers for inviting me to interview Twiggy and work on this campaign, and thank you to my readers for supporting my sponsored posts which help keep Not Dressed As Lamb running!