New Twiggy musical will focus on her working-class roots

Twiggy (left) will be played by actress Elena Skye in a new musical
Twiggy (left) will be played by actress Elena Skye in a new musical - Michael Ochs Archives

She was the supermodel whose svelte figure and iconic look make her the Face of 1966 while still a teenager.

Now a new musical based on the life of Twiggy will recount her emergence from her working-class childhood to become one of the pivotal figures in Swinging London while she was still a teenager.

The story of Lesley Hornby, a teenager from Neasden who was plucked from obscurity via an iconic haircut is explored in the show written and directed by Ben Elton and starring Elena Skye as Twiggy.

“The whole business of social stagnation, which is something I think about a lot politically – the term levelling up is as meaningless as it is ugly – is [explored] in [her] story as a young working-class woman,” Elton told The Telegraph.

“She was empowered to do things in her own way, which could happen in the 60s, and couldn’t necessarily happen now, in the way that the Beatles also opened up possibilities for young working class people.”

Twiggy (left) and Elena Skye
The musical based on the life of Twiggy will recount her emergence from her working-class childhood - Brian Aris

Paving the way for other working class models, Twiggy was widely seen as a democratising force in women’s fashion. She told The Telegraph: “In the 60s, all fashion came from Paris, it was couture, it wasn’t for working-class people.”

After being discovered in 1966, by 1967 she had modelled in France, Japan, and the US, and had been featured on the cover of Vogue and Tatler.

Twiggy – now Dame Lesley Lawson – said: “It was a very different world then – no social media, mobiles phones, and also fashion was not talked much about in newspapers, so that article in 1966 that Deirdre McSharry wrote about me [in the Express], saying ‘Twiggy’s the face of 66’ – was a very very unusual thing to write about.

Models now vs then
Models now vs then

“And actually, when I met up with her recently, she said she had to fight to get that piece in, because the men thought fashion models were – well they didn’t need to be in the paper. And I said thank you so much because it changed my life.”

Twiggy, 73 has considerable experience of musicals in her own right. Her role in the 1971 Ken Russell film The Boy Friend earned her two Golden Globe Awards, while her Broadway debut in My One and Only in 1983 earned her a Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Musical.

Twiggy (left) and Elena Skye
Twiggy was plucked from obscurity via an iconic haircut - Brian Aris

In 2012 she launched a fashion collection with M&S and in 2019 was made a dame in 2019 for services to fashion, the arts and charity.

Elton is a longstanding friend of Twiggy’s and cemented plans to produce a biographical show over dinner.

He recalled: “I basically started riffing, [talking about] how contemporary her story is – she basically put her knife and fork down and said, ‘well blimey Ben you keep going on about it, when are you going to write it,’ and I thought yeah she’s right.”

Biopic musicals
Biopic musicals

Elton selected Skye to play Twiggy because she shares her “star quality”, he explained. “She is a very honest, genuine person, she really has some of those same qualities Twiggy had,” he says.

He adds: “There’s a lot of heartache in the story, it’s quite a serious story.

“In 1966 – it was overnight, or over a fortnight – she went from completely unknown Neasden schoolgirl doing her A levels, to world famous –  the most famous teenager on the planet. And you think about how many casualties there were in the 60s, of young people who became so famous so quickly.”

Close Up – the Twiggy Musical, opens at the Menier Chocolate Factory theatre in London on September 16.