Wednesday, May 28, 2008
HER '60s LOOK: "The face of the decade" she was called by Women's Wear Daily. Photographers loved her, so she must've been doing something right. She had a face like a doll, at once young and innocent but with a scary force behind the eyes, amplified by her sometimes extreme makeup and her reluctance to ever smile in any photo we've ever seen of her. In the book The Sixties: A Decade in Vogue, she explained her exaggerated makeup: "I started it all at thirteen, I think to annoy my friends' parents." Starting with that kind of anti-establishment attitude, she was a perfect reflection of what was going on in the late '60s, and her unconventional looks symbolized and reflected the strangeness and nonconformity of the times. So different was her makeup, Jean Shrimpton said, "Her style is almost science." Weird science, that is: Penelope once shaved off her eyebrows because she wanted "to look more like a Martian than I already did." Tall and gangly, she was another of the bone-thin models who were all the rage in the swingin' '60s. David Bailey described her as being an "Egyptian Jiminy Cricket." Penelope stood 5' 10" and at that height was on par with Jean Shrimpton, plus she was some four inches taller than Twiggy. Penelope was often shown in bizarre settings, sometimes as a mythic figure or a wood nymph. In Radical Rags, Fashions of the Sixties, she explained her unique poses and why the public can't emulate her look: "You can't look like Vogue. It doesn't want you to. It just wants to show you what individuality is." Later Penelope admitted that she was anorexic throughout her modeling career in order to maintain that waif-like body.LIFESTYLE: In '67 Penelope met David Bailey in the Vogue offices and soon moved in with him. Bailey, of course, had already enjoyed a passionate early-'60s romance with Jean Shrimpton and was married at the time to Catherine Deneuve, whom he wouldn't divorce until '70. Supposedly Catherine could see what was coming: One story has it that when she saw a photo of Penelope, she told her husband Bailey that he was going to fall in love with her. He did, and he and Penelope got a house and painted one of the rooms black and another one purple. Supposedly Penelope installed a UFO detector, and the place was often filled with various hippies and radicals. She and Bailey broke up in '74, and she left for Australia. Penelope later married rock musician Ricky Fataar, who briefly joined the Beach Boys and contributed several songs to their Holland LP in '72.