Peggy Moffitt (born in California in 1939) was during the 1960s a premier model and muse for the late fashion designer Rudi Gernreich. She developed a signature style that featured heavy, Kabuki-like makeup and an asymmetrical hair cut.
Though her unique look has now become iconic of the 60s fashion scene, Peggy started out pursuing a career in film, beginning with an uncredited role in the 1955 film ‘You’re Never Too Young’. As a model, she developed a signature style, including false eyelashes and heavy eye makeup, drawing on Japanese Kabuki theater. Her hairstyle, an asymmetrical bowl cut, created by Vidal Sassoon, became known as the ‘five point’. Her unique look became an icon of the 1960s fashion scene. In 1964, she made international headlines when she was photographed by her husband since 1960 William Claxton wearing Gernreich’s famous topless monokini bathing suit. Peggy was one of the few models bold enough at the time to model it…..
Peggy’s career in film never took off, but she appeared in a film entitled ‘Who Are You, Polly Magoo’ and in Michelangelo Antonioni’s ‘Blow-Up’.
Peggy Moffitt & Antonioni’s Blow-Up
‘A mod London photographer seems to find something very suspicious in the shots he has taken of a mysterious beauty in a desolate park’
Blow-Up is filmed in London during the sixties. David Hemmings leading movie-character, a fashion photographer, is based on David Bailey, who was the it photographer at the time. Other people starring in the movie are: Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles, John Castle and sixties model Veruschka. Also appearing in the movie are Jane Birkin, Peggy Moffitt and The Yardbirds.
The movie has become iconic for the theme, the cast and the fashion photo shoot scenes. The first is the scene with Veruschka and the second is the scene in which David Hemmings has to do a fashion shoot with five models (Peggy Moffitt among them).
The plot is a day in the life of a glamorous fashion photographer. It begins after spending the night at a doss house, where he has taken pictures for a book of art photos. He is late for a photo shoot with Veruschka at his studio, which in turn makes him late for a shoot with other models later in the morning. He grows bored and walks off, leaving the models and production staff in the lurch. As he leaves the studio, two teenage girls who are aspiring models (Jane Birkin plays one of them) ask to speak with him, but the photographer drives off to look at an antiques shop. Wandering into Maryon Park, he takes photos of two lovers. The woman (Vanessa Redgrave) is furious at being photographed. The photographer then meets his agent for lunch, and notices a man following him and looking into his car. Back at his studio, Redgrave arrives asking for the film, but he deliberately hands her a different roll. She in turn writes down a false telephone number to give to him. His many enlargements of the black and white film are grainy but seem to show a body in the grass and a killer lurking in the trees with a gun. He is disturbed by a knock on the door, but it is the two girls again, with whom he has a romp in his studio and falls asleep. Awakening, he finds they hope he will photograph them but he tells them to leave, saying, “Tomorrow! Tomorrow!”
As evening falls, the photographer goes back to the park and finds a body, but he has not brought his camera and is scared off by a twig breaking, as if being stepped on. The photographer returns to his studio to find that all the negatives and prints are gone except for one very grainy blowup showing the body. After driving into town, he sees Redgrave and follows her into a club where The Yardbirds, featuring both Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck on guitar, are seen playing. At a drug-drenched party in a house on the Thames near central London, he finds both Veruschka – who had told him that she was going to Paris, and when confronted, she says she is in Paris – and his agent, whom he wants to bring to the park as a witness. However, the photographer cannot put across what he has photographed. Waking up in the house at sunrise, he goes back to the park alone, but the body is gone.
Befuddled, he watches a mimed tennis match, is drawn into it, picks up the imaginary ball and throws it back to the two players. While he watches the mime, the sound of the ball being played is heard. As the photographer watches this mimed match alone on the lawn, his image fades away, leaving only the grass as the film ends.
The film grossed $20 million (about $120 million today) on a $1.8 million budget and helped liberate Hollywood from its puritanical prurience.
Blow-Up fashion shoot scene
Blow-Up scene with Veruschka
After Gernreich’s death, she retained legal rights to his designs and arranged for his designs to be displayed in an art exhibition. She also collaborated with Marylou Luther and photographer Claxton to release a comprehensive book chronicling Gernreich’s designs.
Peggy Moffitt & Comme des Garçons
Peggy’s resurge for the book led to contact with Comme des Garçons designer Rei Kawakubo and together they went over the Gernreich archives and selected key pieces to be re-created under the Comme des Garçons label as the Moffitt line, which also contained a series of t-shirts depicting Peggy Moffitt’s image…
The Chicago band The Handcuffs feature the song “Peggy Moffitt” on their debut album Model for a Revolution, with famous photographs of the revolutionary model on the CD cover. Boyd Rice and Giddle Partridge released a limited edition vinyl called Going Steady With Peggy Moffitt in 2008.
Peggy Moffitt, Muse & Model for Rudi Gernreich