New York City
- One of the most photographed models of the mid-1960s Linda Morand
was, like her contemporary Twiggy
, an "It Girl" that set the style for a generation of women. Hamptons.com sat down with the supermodel known as "SuperChick" at Café Maison in her Upper Westside Manhattan neighborhood.
Although Morand, like many of us from the flower power generation, now qualifies for senior discounts at movie theaters, she is a still a stunner with intoxicating looks and a figure that the average 20-something would envy. Albeit now gray, her hair still has a similar asymmetric short cut created for her by Christope
of Vidal Sasson
in 1966 at the insistence of Eileen Ford
. In a word, she remains to this day an absolute beauty.
"It Girl" Linda Morand in Mod Style for Conde Nast. (LindaMorand.com)
Starting our conversation at the beginning, she explained her first foray into modeling, "I was actually discovered in Key West of all places, where I spent the summer after Lindenhurst High School before starting college at FIT [Fashion Institute of Technology]. I was discovered by a man named Jim Russell
that had Key West Handprint Fabric, which is still there. He made the fabric for Lily Pulitzer
Russell literally stopped her on the street and asked Morand to model for him at his store where she spent the summer as a sales associate/model. "For me it was a big shock, because I had always been the tall, skinny dork in high school. At least I felt like I was because I was taller than the other kids, so I was thrilled to do this. The best thing that came out of it was that I now had pictures."
Summer over, Morand started classes at FIT with the intention of being a fashion illustrator, but as she noted, "I was the one they always made stand up on the table to draw pictures of during the fashion illustration classes. Classmates kept telling me 'You should be a model.' So I took my pictures to a couple of different agencies, but I knew Ford was the best."
Morand's striking resemblance to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
helped her land a contract with the agency, "I looked so much like Jackie Kennedy that people would stop me on the street. Although Eileen Ford had always really preferred blondes, she was looking for models at the time that looked like the Jackie type, but Eileen said I had way too much hair so she sent me to Vidal Sasson and they cut it all off."
Evidently the short hair worked because Morand found her way to the cover of Mademoiselle
and the status as the new "It Girl." Ushering in the "Mod" look along with Twiggy; Morand quickly became one of the most sought after models in America.
Controversial 1974 French Vogue photo spread with Linda Morand as Jackie Kennedy shot by Helmut Newton. (Helmut Newton for Vogue)
In 1967 a deal was struck between Ford and European agency Paris Planning for Morand to work the runways and fashion magazines of Paris, Milan and other European capitals. She was based in Rome until 1969, but moved to Paris where in 1970 she married French actor Philippe Forquet
. The marriage was short lived and she returned to modeling still sought out by the world's leading fashion designers and photographers.
Although she had graced the pages of literally every major fashion magazine in the world, it was her 1974 shoot with photographer Helmut Newton
for French Vogue
that may be the defining moment of her spectacular career. For the shoot she was made up to look exactly like Jackie Kennedy, which as already noted was not a far stretch. There was a rumor that the former First Lady might actually sue, but Morand was clearly identified by name in the article so the suit would have been moot.
Linda Morand and actress and former model Rene Russo at the Supermodels Sorority Reunion in Los Angeles, 2010. (LindaMorand.com)
Morand actually met Kennedy at P.J. Clarke's in Manhattan during the height of her career as a model when she was dining with a friend who knew Pierre Salinger
and spotted Salinger and Kennedy at a table. As Morand tells it, "After being introduced she graciously said to me, 'So you are the model that everyone tells me I look like.' She turned the whole thing around and I just loved her for it."
Although Morand retired from modeling in 1975 to remarry and raise a family in Florida, she kept her hand in the business through a modeling school and a photography studio. In the 1990s she posed once again as Jackie Kennedy in special bookings with iconic American photographers Annie Leibovitz
for Vanity Fair
and Peter Beard
With plenty of time on her hands, she actually considered starting a new career as a Jackie Kennedy look-alike with appearances on both the Rosie O'Donnell
and Joan Rivers
shows. However, with the passing of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in 1994, Morand's class and sense of propriety compelled her to abruptly put an end to any further Jackie photo shoots or appearances.
With her children grown and out of the house Morand recently decided to move back to New York City. Her present passion is "The Supermodels Hall of Fame." Although no date has yet been set, the two hour television awards special will be directed by multiple Emmy
Award winning producer/director Gary Smith
and Morand's co-executive producer is Hollywood publicist Steve Jaffe
The stunning supermodel Linda Morand at the height of her career. (LindaMorand.com)
The concept grew out of an incident relating to a 2006 QVC
infomercial Morand was planning regarding her technique of facial exercise. An investor told her that although she may have indeed been a top model, when he Googled her nothing came up on the Web. "Well, of course not, there was no Web back then, nobody was on the Web. So I decided to fix that and I started my own amateur website," Morand said.
In creating her website, LindaMorand.com, she included a section about 1960s models and fashion and 900 people left messages and started sending her pictures. She then started a linked site called miniMadMOD60s.com and posted the images of the 1960s supermodels. Ex-models and fans started adding images and now the site has 25,000 images spanning several decades of the world's most famous fashion faces dating back to the 1940s.
1960s "SuperChick" supermodel Linda Morand at Cafe Maison in NYC, 2010. (Douglas Harrington)
All this led to Morand's involvement in The Models Reunion Supermodel Sorority and ironically at this point in the conversation we were joined unexpectedly, at least unexpected on my part, by model Susan Brainard
, another still stunning contemporary of Morand's that she re-connected with at one of the reunions. How lucky was I to be sitting with two beautiful cover girls over cocktails? Geez, I felt like Coerte Felske
The fourth reunion was held recently in Los Angeles and the gatherings still remain illuminating for Morand, "Everybody is so interesting in the way they have turned out. They range from vagabonds to multi-millionaires to totally unknown drug addicts to still in the news. It is amazing the range of what has happened to these ladies, but most of them are still in top form. They give us inspiration when you see 70 year old girls looking like they are 45."
Morand was, of course, speaking to the choir, as I had just spent an hour in conversation with the iconic "SuperChick" of the 1960s. A beauty that in my opinion could still walk any runway at New York's Mercedes-Benz
Fashion Week and still draw an eye to the cover of Vogue
on any newsstand anywhere.
For more information go to www.LindaMorand.com
, or www.miniMadMOD60s.com
, or www.supermodelshalloffame.com
Frequently mistaken for the "Most Interesting Man in the World" from the Dos Equis commercials and the iconic gray-bearded Sean Connery, DMH is the Senior Contributing Editor at Hamptons.com. www.hamptons.com