Dame Lesley Lawson (Twiggy)

11 Min Read

Dame Lesley Lawson, better known by her nickname Twiggy, is one of the most recognizable faces from the swinging Sixties. With her androgynous look, doe-eyed stare, and stick-thin figure, Twiggy took the fashion world by storm and became a symbol of the mod era. Though Twiggy did not attend university or college, her brief but brilliant modeling career in the 1960s paved the way for a successful multi-decade career in entertainment.

A Quick Look at the Life and Career of Twiggy, Fashion Icon and Cultural Symbol

  • Born Lesley Hornby in 1949 in London, England, she got the nickname “Twiggy” for her skinny frame.
  • Was discovered at age 16 and quickly became one of the world’s first supermodels.
  • Known for her short hair, big eyes, long eyelashes, and boyish figure. Her look defined the mod fashion movement.
  • Appeared on the covers of Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Tatler, and other major fashion magazines.
  • Retired from modeling in 1970 at age 21 to pursue acting.
  • Won two Golden Globe Awards for her role in the film The Boy Friend (1971).
  • Continued successful acting career in movies, television, and theatre over following decades.
  • Appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2019.

Who is Twiggy? A Closer Look at the Fashion Icon

Born Lesley Hornby on September 19, 1949 in the Neasden area of London, the future supermodel who would become known worldwide by just one name, Twiggy, came from a working class background. Her mother worked in a factory while her father was a master carpenter.

As a teenager, Lesley got the nickname “Twiggy” from friends who teased her for her tall, incredibly slender frame. At 5’6” tall, Twiggy never weighed more than 100 pounds, even well into adulthood. With her big eyes, long eyelashes, pixie haircut and boyish figure, everything about Twiggy’s look was unconventional for the time.

Discovered at age 16 by fashion editor Deirdre McSharry, Twiggy immediately caught the eye of top photographers and designers. Her career took off seemingly overnight. She appeared on the cover of Elle magazine within her first year of modeling.

From 1966 to 1970, Twiggy was one of the most sought after fashion models on the planet. She became the face of “Swinging London,” the youth-driven cultural revolution sweeping the city. Twiggy graced the covers of Vogue, Tatler, The Daily Express and more publications while defining the mod, androgynous style of the era.

Just five years into her meteoric rise, Twiggy retired from modeling in 1970 at age 21 to pursue an acting career. She remains, however, one of the most enduring faces of 1960s fashion.

Twiggy Skipped University as She Skyrocketed to Supermodel Fame

While Twiggy stands tall among the most famous faces of the 20th century, she did not attend university. With a career that took off in her mid-teens, higher education took a back seat to modeling.

Discovered at 16 years old in London by Deirdre McSharry, an editor at the Daily Express newspaper, Twiggy signed on with a top modeling agent the following year. By 1966, her career was in full swing.

From the age of 17 to 21, Twiggy spent little time off the fashion circuit. She landed on the covers of British Vogue at 18 and American Vogue at 19.

During these whirlwind years, Lesley Hornby became simply “Twiggy”—the single-moniker supermodel embodying the cultural revolution of 1960s London. There was no time for college; Twiggy was busy spearheading a fashion revolution.

Her meteoric rise coincided with the ascendance of youth culture and political unrest in London. While students her age protested Vietnam and tuned in and dropped out, Twiggy modeled nonstop.

From 1966 to 1970, Twiggy modeled couture by top designers, appeared in fashion shows around the world, landed lucrative advertising contracts, and graced dozens of magazine covers.

By 1970, she decided to step back from modeling and enroll in acting classes. Higher education once again took a back seat as Twiggy pivoted to film and theatre.

What is Twiggy’s Net Worth After Decades in the Spotlight?

After rising to fame as the world’s first supermodel in the 1960s, Twiggy parlayed her success into an acting and entertainment career. Though she never attended university, Twiggy’s net worth reflects her staying power as a pop culture icon.

According to CelebrityNetWorth.com, Twiggy has a net worth of approximately $30 million. The majority of her wealth comes from modeling, film, television and theatre work over several decades.

Twiggy earned $80,000 for a single shoot at the peak of her modeling career in the 1960s. Adjusted for inflation, that equates to over half a million dollars today.

After retiring from modeling at 21, her breakout role in 1971’s The Boyfriend earned Twiggy two Golden Globe awards and brought in significant income. Roles in major films, television series, and stage productions added to her wealth over the years.

Savvy investments—especially in real estate—also grew Twiggy’s net worth substantially. She purchased a London apartment in the late 1960s that has no doubt appreciated tremendously in value.

While Twiggy never attended college or university, she earned far more over her decades-long career than the average university graduate. With an estimated $30 million net worth, the supermodel remains in high demand today.

Twiggy’s Trailblazing Career Inspires Generations

Though Twiggy never formally studied at university, her career has impacted generations. She paved the way for models from Kate Moss to Kendall Jenner. Twiggy also showed creatives that a successful entertainment career doesn’t require college.

As one of the world’s first supermodels, she broke barriers in the 1960s fashion industry. Just a teenager from a working-class London family, Twiggy’s look redefined notions of beauty.

In the decades that followed, Twiggy enjoyed a thriving career in film, on stage in Broadway productions, and on television. She used her platform to advocate for animals, human rights, and breast cancer research.

In recent years, Twiggy’s daughter Carly Witney has followed in her fashion footsteps. She has modeled for Marks and Spencer, Burberry and other brands.

From music to fashion to social change, Twiggy’s cultural influence spans generations. Her game-changing career shows that sometimes the real education happens beyond school walls.

Follow Style Icon Twiggy on Social Media

Though she got her start as a model long before social media existed, Twiggy has embraced platforms like Twitter to connect with longtime fans and new admirers. Follow her at:

  • Twitter: @Twiggy
  • Instagram: @twiggylawson
  • Facebook: @twiggy

The legendary model and actress often shares personal photos on Instagram and Twitter. She posts throwback fashion shots along with pictures of her family and celebrity friends.

On Facebook, Twiggy updates fans on her latest projects, from TV appearances to magazine features. All three platforms provide a fun glimpse into the private life of the famously freewheeling fashion icon.

Frequently Asked Questions About Twiggy’s Education and Career

Did Twiggy attend fashion school?

No, Twiggy did not attend fashion school. She was discovered as a model at just 16 years old.

What was Twiggy’s primary education?

She attended the Brondesbury and Kilburn High School in London until being discovered by a fashion editor at age 16.

Did Twiggy go to college or university?

No, Twiggy did not attend university as she was modeling full time in her late teens during the peak of her fashion career.

How did Twiggy train as an actress?

After retiring from modeling in 1970, Twiggy took acting classes at the Royal Court Theatre in London and the Charles Russell School of Elocution.

Does Twiggy have any formal fashion design training?

Twiggy does not have official credentials from a fashion institute. However, she has decades of hands-on experience in the fashion industry.

What are Twiggy’s most famous films?

Twiggy won two Golden Globes for her role in The Boy Friend (1971). She also starred in classics like The Blues Brothers (1980) and Madame Sousatzka (1988).

Is Twiggy still modeling today?

Though she retired from full-time modeling in 1970, Twiggy still occasionally does fashion shoots and walks the runway. Most recently, she modeled in a Kenzo campaign in 2021.


Over five decades and counting, Dame Lesley “Twiggy” Lawson has made an indelible impact on fashion, film, and pop culture at large. Her game-changing modeling career in the 1960s redefined beauty ideals and kicked open the door for generations of supermodels to come. Though formal education took a back seat to her meteoric success, Twiggy used her platform to advocate for social causes while racking up accolades across entertainment mediums. Decades on, her cultural influence shows no signs of diminishing.