Quoting Heidi Klum, “In fashion, one day you’re in, the next day you’re out”. In her early 30’s, the face of the 1960’s and one of the most beautiful women ever to grace a Vogue cover, opted out. Jean Shrimpton’s disappearing Garbo act took her North of London to Penzance where she has owned and run The Abbey Hotel for over 30 years.
“Fashion is full of dark, troubled people,” she said in an interview with The Guardian. “It’s a high-pressured environment that takes its toll and burns people out. Only the shrewd survive – Andy Warhol, for example, and David Bailey.” We are talking about British fashion designer John Galliano, who was sacked by Dior last month after allegedly making antisemitic comments. Shrimpton, dressed in a simple, unostentatious black dress – more bohemian than haute couture – is quick to lament the fashion world’s excesses. “No one can condone what he said – it’s reprehensible. But it’s hypocritical to pretend that fashion is normal, that people in it are role models. And it’s stupid to deny that people behave badly.”
We have heard little of “The Shrimp” since she vanished from swinging London and took off to the West Country. She recently popped up in Channel 4’s Country House Rescue, and in 1990 a ghostwritten autobiography appeared, but Shrimpton makes no bones about why she played ball. “I needed some money to renovate the roof of the hotel,” she says, her blue eyes flashing, arms firmly folded. She adds, curtly: “I didn’t want the book to appear. I’ve hated publicity all my life. I didn’t even like it when I was a model.”