Peggy Moffitt: When Fashion Meets Theater

The 1960s saw the advent of the Supermodel. There was the elegant Jean Shrimpton, the baby-faced, ethereal Pattie Boyd, the striking Veruschka, the oddly doll-like Penelope Tree, the wholesome Cheryl Tiegs, and the gamine Twiggy. Fan and fashion magazines were full of photographs of these young women who, each in her own unique way, typified the decade, giving it iconic looks that remain half a century later. But there was one young woman whose looks and style lifted her out of mere fashion and into what, in retrospect, can only be called performance art. This was L.A. born Peggy Moffitt...

Borrowing makeup techniques from Japanese Kabuki theater, and an a-symmetrical hairstyle that catapulted hairstylist Vidal Sassoon into the pop culture stratosphere, Peggy drew both compliments and complaints from the public and the press.

Whenever Peggy appeared, either in the fashion pages, the catwalk, or in commercials, it was she who grabbed your attention, not the clothes she wore, or other models who shared her space. It was like they didn't even exist. She didn't pose, she struck attitudes in a somewhat mime style that made the viewer stop and take notice. It was about shape and it was about impression. It was a kind of dance.

It was this acting, this creating of characters, and not modelling, that set her apart from the others.

Because of her statuesque yet curvy figure, she was asked to model designer Rudi Gernreich's topless swimsuit, a photo that sent shock waves through the world in 1964 when such things were unheard of.

Moffitt commented about the picture in 2012, "The shot seen around the world. Think of something in your life that took 1/60th of a second to do. Now, imagine having to spend the rest of your life talking about it. I think it’s a beautiful photograph, but oh, am I tired of talking about it.”

Today, at 72, Peggy Moffitt, who still models, has lost none of her unique, eccentric style.