Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"Hot, hot hot, smart, smart, smart!"

When most girls think of the 1960s, the first style icon which comes to mind is Twiggy.

Ironically, the real face of the flower child decade was really Penelope Tree.

Penelope Tree was an oddly adorable teenage fashion model, who came from a wealthy, aristocratic family.

Growing up, she clung to her closeted-gay father and barely had a relationship with her non-existent mother who jet-setted around the world with her handsome, debonair boyfriends.

In 1966, when she was 17-years-old, Penelope attended a Black and White Ball thrown by Truman Capote and the night changed her life. The media became obsessed with her shockingly risque black attire. Her elf-like features were mystifyingly beautiful. The next day, Vogue called, begging her to grace a cover.

The gimpish model became a household name overnight. She started attending the hottest parties, where she mingled with superstars like John Lennon (who adored her). The teenage It Girl then quickly moved in with her new boyfriend, the famous British photographer David Bailey, who was still married to the French movie star Catherine Deneuve.

Beneath the glittering limelight, however, life wasn't picture-perfect.

Penelope was anorexic and bulimic, desperate to keep her weight in check with the boyish body image of the time. She was also miserably aware that the love of her life, her much-older boyfriend, had a wandering eye.

By the early 1970s, her world came crashing down when Penelope developed severe cystic acne, which covered her face with large, unsightly bumps and later, scarring. By her mid-20s, her modeling career was finished.

Even her own boyfriend couldn't stand to look at her face. David took off with a younger model in 1974, abruptly and cruelly ending their six-year relationship.

Bewildered and shocked, the unhappy ex-model roamed around the world with her savings. She got married. Had a daughter. Explored her religious options.

In the 1980s, she found peace with Buddhism.

These days, she spends most of her time immersed in charity work for two Buddhist organizations, which help impoverished children in Asia. She's very passionate about her work. She also writes books and has a close relationship with her two adult children.

Oh, and the model recently got back in front of the camera again to promote Burberry with a supermodel who has long been compared to herself: Kate Moss.

And even though most of you probably didn't even know her name, Penelope still wins. Because she's happy now.


Tanvi said...

Glad she is doing well now. She looks pretty spectacular in most of the pictures.

∞ © ∞

Kim (A Very Sweet Blog) said...

I am so happy this had a happy ending! LOL The way it was going I thought she was going to kill herself. I'm so glad she got back on her feet and isn't it a strange coincidence that she is on the modeling platform again. Things really do come full circle! Excellent!

hellosimpleme said...

I'm very glad she has a happy ending! :) The pictures of her are wonderful!

Oh to Be a Muse said...

I'm glad that this ended happily for her as I wasn't sure how that was going to end up. And her face is all cleared up so that's a double plus. :)

Sherin said...

I was really glad to read about a happy ending! I didn't know her name but definitely recognised her face.

Vix said...

I'm glad she's happy! I know her face so well, one of those models always in British fashion magazines when I was a kid! Great feature! x
PS English Mustard is yellow and smooth.It's hotter than the American version but that'll do nicely!

Bunny Moreno said...

I love this story! And love happy endings even more. This post rocks! xox

Meri said...

I've heard of her but didn't know a lot of this story. I'm glad she had a happy ending!

Chic 'n Cheap Living said...

Very cool, thanks for the introduction! I am glad she found true happiness through all the craziness. Wow and her boyfriend left Catherine Deneuve for her? Oh the 60s!

Chic 'n Cheap Living

French Girl in Seattle said...

Honestly Jenny, I had never heard her name before (though I am sure the Great Catherine D. did! :-) She had quite the life, this little girl, but things turned out ok for her in the end. Great story. Thanks, Jenny. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle) PS: The new post is up. About fashion, for a change.

Couture Carrie said...

Amazing pics and bio!
So tragic about her acne... but glad she is happy now!


creativefashionglee said...

I always get to learn new things reading your blog. It´s good to know about this model and it´s good to know she found happiness. I was scared at the point when you said she roamed the world with her savings, I was afraid she´d end up wasted and poor. I´m gald she didn´t.

Bonnie said...

Blogger deleted my comment. Jerk.

What I love about your blog is that I always learn something new. I get to "meet" new people and read their life stories. You're fabulous.
Twitter: @GlamKitten88

fabulousjunk said...

What I wouldn't give to be an "it" girl back the day, or even now.


The Dainty Dolls House said...

She's utterly marvellous, love her :)) And she still looks freaking awesome :)

Arielle-HumblePieVintage said...

I've seen her pictures before, I just never knew who she was. I hope she truly is happy now!