Friday, 7 January 2011

Last-Year Girl: Peggy Moffitt

To kick start what I hope will be an exciting and stylish new year, I'd like to introduce a new Last-Year Girl to add to my small collection to date. That honour falls to 60s model and muse Peggy Moffitt. This is one seriously inspiring lady, so if you need some style impetus or resolutions, or just a bit of conviction in your own look, this one is for you.

The above image shows the Peggy Moffitt in what must be a quintessentially '60s shot: from the Vidal Sassoon haircut to the heavily outlined eyes and lashing of mascara. Peggy Moffitt, alongside her husband William Claxton and the designer Rudi Gernreich, helped define one of the looks of that decade. Moffitt is frequently described as Gernreich's muse; in interviews she describes it as more of a collaboration. Certainly Peggy was perfect for his designs which emphasized a slender and angular body frame.

The trio became notorious because of Gernreich's topless bathing suit, designed in 1964. Rather than being intended as a commercial design, the design was intended to express female liberation. Gernreich's designs in general were very forward looking, playing with unconventional materials and mixing patterns and shapes. I love the fact that through Peggy his ideas reached and influenced a mainstream audience. She was pictured on the cover of Queen magazine for example, in 1966 an image of defiant cool in an orange and black patterned Gernreich suit, heavily outlined eyes and eyebrows, cigarette holder in hand. Or, here she is an 1968 issue of Glamour magazine, showing how to replicate her trademark make-up:

(via Laurie Luxe)

Those heavily outlined eyes pop-up again in Pretty Pretty Peggy Moffitt, a 1968 children's book written and illustrated by William Pene Du Bois.

Here's the frontispiece of the book which shows the young Peggy Moffitt character. Good to see the eyeliner in still in place (it's even there in the illustration showing her as a baby!). The story is a moralistic tale - Pretty Pretty Peggy Moffitt is enraptured with her own beauty ("better to be a Butterfly than a Beetle") and so loves looking at herself she's always walking and falling into things ... and that's it really. However, the illustrations are great and with all the clothing designs credited to Rudi Gernreich it's no surprise to see that some of the outfits young Peggy wears in the book are echoed in real life designs. 


... or diamonds? (via Hair Inspiration)

This 1967 video shows the all grown-up Peggy Moffitt in action, modelling some of Gernreich's futuristic designs and materials. There's something deliberately doll-like in her portrayal of herself, a potent mixture of fun and cool.

In a 2001 interview she explains how she liked to explore the theatricality available in modelling his clothes: "And not all designers — like Rudi — would give his model a script in which I could play characters. That’s the fun of clothes. I was trained as an actress, dancer and in theatrical arts. I understood lighting and design. I could find characters in his script. I never held back. It was the height of freedom and liberation".

Peggy Moffitt's graphic and modern 60s look, coupled with her attitude, is still fresh and fascinating today. As it to prove my point, Refinery 29 put this post up just a few weeks ago: Peggy Moffitt Outshines Young Uns at L.A. Dinner. If you want to know more about Peggy Moffitt, I beg you to explore further as there's a wealth of material around - it was really hard making the selection for this post. Enjoy your stylish search! And do let me know if you come across anything really great...

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