LES FILLES ANGLAISES
Who are the sixteen-year-old girls in the land of the Beatles? What are their tastes, what are their hobbies, how do they dress, what is their attitude towards love and boys? To be able to tell you, our special envoy Violaine Frank went to interview at length, this month, the British equivalent of our Mademoiselle Age Tendre: Jenny Boyd―schoolgirl all week and apprentice-model in her spare time. Jenny, whom many women's magazines already use a lot, is the sister of the charming Pattie Boyd, Beatle George Harrison's wife. She answered our questions with great care; she also posed for our friend André Berg's camera in the most extravagant outfits from her wardrobe. Discover here, with her, the current face of the girls of London.
Who are the English girls? "They look like me," says Jenny Boyd. Photo by André Berg, December 1966. (Mademoiselle Age Tendre, 1967).
The English Girls
When, in the Chelsea café where we had just settled down, I said: Do you think Jenny, that you could answer, on behalf of the majority of English girls, to the questions that French women ask themselves about them? The delightful Jenny Boyd looked at me, suddenly disconcerted, and whispered: ''Me, speaking for other girls? It's difficult...'' Her very soft, very blue eyes kept watching me, and then she said: ''Let's try it, if you like...but I can't promise you any good results!'' So we tried; Jenny, by her age, her taste, the way she dresses, is the picture of the ''English girl of 1967'' (if, well, such an image exists). Never in our conversation did she want to play the role of spokesperson that we offer her; but her responses, and reactions, are nonetheless revealing: they tell us what to expect, what is expected, what, in December 1966, a young girl who lives in London likes, and what often differs from most French women.
|Jenny Boyd, poses against the spectacular Pop Art facade created by the artist Michael English for Michael Rainey's 'Hung On You' Boutique at 22 Cale Street, Chelsea. Photo by André Berg, December 1966.|
M.A.T: You have just walked us, photographer André Berg and I, across two London avenues very famous for their clothing stores, King's Road and Carnaby Street. And today, you're wearing an extraordinary short dress in silver nylon, gathered at the waist, under a coat barely longer than a boy's jacket. This brand new clothing style, when did you adopt it?
Jenny: About a year ago. Until then, I had always worn the dreary uniform typical of schoolgirls, long skirts, big sweaters that were a little too heavy―in short, I wasn't really interested about the way I looked, I didn't care about fashion...Luckily I have a beautiful model for a sister, that you know, Pattie. One morning she had enough and suddenly decided to take me in hand. Come on, she said, you're gonna change your look. I followed her. She was the one who introduced me to the little shops on Carnaby Street, where there are lots of fun and inexpensive clothes, she taught me how to do my makeup, how to fix myself up, and to enjoy making the most of my appearance. I immediately adopted the slightly exuberant style she proposed to me, which, changed my boring school life so wonderfully...
Above: Jenny Boyd, photographed outside Granny Takes a Trip, 488 King's Road, by André Berg, December 1966. You'll find some rare film footage of another fashion shoot outside the boutique during this period via The Kino Library.
M.A.T: Was it Pattie, again, who gave you the desire to become a model?
Jenny: It's her, of course. There, I did not let myself be convinced on the spot: You, you are pretty I said to her; but have you taken a proper look at me? Pattie was undeterred by the argument: Do what I tell you, everything will be fine. And, here I am...almost a model.
M.A.T: Tell me about the boys. The ones you know, the ones you've had a chance to meet...What do you expect from them, in general?
Jenny: The boys? I say it candidly, for me, they are the basis of everything. I love them all, but I like to keep it casual. What do I expect from them? Let them take an interest in me first.
M.A.T: This passion for boys, as you say, does it ever complicate your relationships with some of them? Suppose five boys, all equally compatible and affectionate, try to seduce you, will you let them court you in turn without showing any preference forever?
M.A.T: Which would you choose, then? The most beautiful, the funniest, the most sensitive? What qualities or what faults would lead you to say: I want this one, or this one?
Jenny: It's hard to answer that; you'd have to show me the five boys in question! (Jenny laughs for a moment, and then thinks) I love beauty, that's for sure, but let's be clear about this word ''beauty''; I hate ''handsome'' boys; neither George Chakiris nor Alain Delon dazzle me. I find beautiful a face that has strength, charm, a face that reveals a real person: Mick Jagger, for me, is beautiful; John Lennon too; and Tom Courtenay, and Terence Stamp....
English girls come to discover tomorrow's fashion, that of the day after tomorrow, in the popular quarter of Chelsea. There are five main boutiques which offer it to them at very accessible prices. Biba's; Granny Takes a Trip; Top Gear, Countdown and Mary Quant's Bazaar. Thousands of girls have adopted this fashion, along with Jenny, thousands more will come soon. England, in December 1966, is a delicious clothing delirium that invades shops, streets, subways, cafes, and life. Above: Jenny wears a silver nylon dress 45F (£3), from Granny Takes a Trip, 488 King's Road, Chelsea. Photo André Berg.
M.A.T: You told me that two years ago you spent a month's holiday in France. Do you feel that French girls are very different from English girls? That their tastes, their way of life are really different from yours?
Jenny: I think there are, yes, serious differences between French and English. Maybe not the essentials, but on some details there are many...Take this example, among others: when they go to a performance hall, to see and hear a singer, the girls here never moderate their excitement, or their enthusiasm. They shout, they sing, they passionately kiss their fiancé (if he is present, and if they have one); the most "crazy" sometimes cry. French women, on the other hand, give you the impression of having a sort of fear of appearing ridiculous, which in this case seems inappropriate to me. Why not loosen up and let yourself go if you want to do it? After all, who's going to decide that you look ridiculous? The fireman on duty? So what if he does?
M.A.T. Things have changed a lot in France in this respect in the last two years (the Rolling Stones are largely responsible for this). So what do you think is the right measure?
Jenny: Let's say: a free but controlled excitement.
Jenny Boyd wears a red feather boa, 50F, at Biba 19-21 Kensington Church Street. Photo André Berg, December 1966.
M.A.T: Do you know any of the stars who, in France, interest young girls? Adamo, Johnny Hallyday, Claude Francois, Francoise Hardy? ....What do you think of them?
Jenny: I know almost all of them by name, I know many of them by their records; I love the voice and the beautiful face of Francoise Hardy (she is also an important personality in England). I know almost nothing about Adamo; I've heard two or three of his records, but didn't take it any further. I don't really understand French, and the music alone didn't seduce me. As for Johnny Hallyday, he remains a source of amazement for the whole of Great Britain: everyone finds him handsome, no doubt, but how could he have become such a big star in France? His records aren't very good, are they? The last Frenchman that England has adopted is your Claude Francois; he has some ''punch'', and a crazy charm.
|Jenny Boyd, London, December 1966. Photo by André Berg.|
M.A.T: A legend says that the English of today find the French old-fashioned, perhaps because of their musical tastes, or clothing ...what should we think of it?
Jenny: A legend is a legend, you have to believe it only halfway. For my part, I do not have the feeling that the French are more outmoded than us, or that the Turks, or that the Italians, or (let us remain in the legend) the Lilliputians.
M.A.T: Let's talk about leisure: How does a girl spend her free days here? What is the most fun?
Jenny: There, I think French and English meet: we love dancing, listening to music, going to the movies. As for sport! I don't like it very much, it's a passion that I leave to my father and my uncles: they play crazy amounts every week on the "football pools" (these are bets on competitions between football teams, which are equivalent to French Tircé). Here, in every town (even the smallest), there is a ballroom, where, twice a week, a crowd of young people can go to relax: the particularity of these halls is threefold: the entrance is free, you can hear very famous bands, and they are so big in general that they can hold up to six hundred people... The only hall of this kind that I have seen in France is in Paris: it's La Locomotive.
Jenny wears a long-haired/deep-pile coat, 175F, at Top Gear, 135 King's Road, London S.W.3. Photo by André Berg, December 1966.
M.A.T There are about twice as many modelling schools in England as in France. How do you explain this difference?
Jenny: I don't know what kind of job girls are most passionate about at home, on the other hand, here, modelling excites a lot of people. My sister, Pattie, receives a hundred letters from school girls every day asking for advice and information on this job. Tens of thousands of girls find Jean Shrimpton's career extraordinary. My mother, twenty years ago, may have been dreaming of becoming Marlene Dietrich, or Rita Hayworth, or Ingrid Bergman; today, all the English girls have decided to compete with Shrimpton ... This morning, you gave me an issue of "Mademoiselle Age Tendre" in which there was a long report on Muriel Duclos, looking at this girl, I said to myself: "It's funny, why is she doing television? She could be a very pretty model.''
M.A.T: Do you ever say to yourself, 'I'm English,' and I'm happy about it?
Jenny: Nationality means nothing to me, I don't care. Ah! if once I was actually delighted to be English: it was the day the Beatles (George is my brother-in-law) received the Medal of Economic Merit (The MBE). On that day, the Queen showed that she had a sense of humour, and gave the offended veterans a serious 'old-fashioned' look. I was very pleased.
IMAGE CREDITS & LINKSAll images scanned by Sweet Jane from Mademoiselle Age Tendre, January, 1967. Model: Jenny Boyd. All photographs by André Berg. Original interview by Violaine Frank―English translation by Sweet Jane. View some of my previous Beatles, Boyd and British Boutique related posts: Fine Feathers For Night Birds | Pattie Boyd |Rave Magazine (1964). The British Boutique Boom!|Rave Magazine (1965). Biba|London's Mini Mecca|Look Magazine (1967). John Stephen of Carnaby Street|Womenswear. How much is a Beatle worth?|Rave Magazine (1966). By the end of 1967, the Beatles had moved into the fashion business and Jenny began working in their Apple Boutique. View Jenny Boyd ‘Staring Into The Face Of God’―a filmed interview with Iain McNay for Conscious TV. You'll also find some fantastic footage of Jenny throughout The London Look (1965) and also in Joe Massot's cinema short Reflections On Love (1966) which was nominated as the best short film at the Cannes Film Festival, Joe Massot would also go on to direct Wonderwall (1968). Visit Jenny's Official Website: Jenny Boyd| Public Speaker & Writer. And finally, Jenny’s book; Jennifer Juniper: A journey beyond the muse (Urbane Publications), will be available on March 26th 2020.