The Immortality of the ‘It Girl’

New sounds. Sex. The scent of a revolution in the air. The 1960s are a decade synonymous with booming change and the excitement of endless possibility; a decade that continues to fascinate and infiltrate arts, politics and style.

For many, conjuring an image of the 60s is seeing The Beatles in their streamlined suits or shortening hemlines in darling colour palates.

But one element of the 60s that has strengthened in its longevity is the rise of the ‘It Girl’ in her winged eyeliner, go-go boots and fantastic designer garments.

The Mod girl on Carnaby Street, the Paco Rabbane clad starlet in Paris, she is an identity who features in fashion almost every season. And, from the original crop of ‘It Girls’ who reigned supreme almost 60 years ago, a few seem to hold onto their icon status as generation after generation pass through.

Why? Because ‘It Girls’ never die.

Take Charlotte Rampling, a swinging-60s icon of fashion, film and culture.

Her tousled locks and effortless approach to beauty elevated the Brit to the top tier of identities across France, Italy and her homeland in England.

Earlier this year, Givenchy announced the faces of the spring/summer 2020 campaign after working with Ariana Grande the year prior.

Alongside Marc Jacobs stood Charlotte Rampling as the face of a house with significant global reach. Clad in her signature masculine style, Rampling showcased her acting skills through a range of emotions with a camp-like over-dramatization.

Rampling has been able to transcend decades of trends and fads whilst still remaining one of the 20-something ‘It Girls’ of the 60s in the eyes of many.

Winged eyeliner is a feat that still stumps many when applying eye make-up. But if one woman knew how to nail the look, it was, and still is, Twiggy.

The British model and Mod figure is synonymous with the 60s in her aesthetic, spirit and weight carried when her name is uttered.

Much like Rampling, Twiggy remains the inspiration to many for a look on a night out, while her look translates into everyday wardrobe choices.

Make-up artist Owen Joyce of OJMUA has watched the 60s renaissance within the beauty industry at both a consumer and creative level.

“The 60s were probably one of the most influential eras [in make-up], with many common techniques that are used today having evolved from it,” says Joyce.

“People love a light, almost white waterline to brighten the eye, as well as the iconic wing liner.”

While the traditional 60s looks are still a popular choice, modern takes on the trends of the decade gone by have also become more popular, creating a freshness that does not simply mimic and have a costume party feel.

“Eyeliner in this period did not have the same aim as present-day wing as it leaned almost parallel to the eye,” says Joyce.

“Liner nowadays aims to pull and extend the eyes upward, creating the ‘cat eye’ effect.

“The thick wing has also transitioned to be more of a sleek line.”

Covetable 60s ‘It Girls’ cannot be discussed without mentioning the imitable, affable Jane Birkin, and her daughters Lou and Charlotte.

Birkin’s flouncy bangs and illuminating smile are an Instagram favourite, a draw for thousands of dreamy accounts.

She’s the woman your archaic friend wants to be, the woman Alexa Chung so famously identifies as her style icon, even going so far to say, “I’ve really just been ripping off Jane Birkin.”

Birkin’s relevance today? By extension. Her daughters are now covetable themselves for their quintessentially French style, mannerisms and cultivation of a fan base.

Touting tousled waves alongside her Parisian bangs, Lou Doillon is the effortlessly undone indie-rocker sitting front row at Gucci with A$AP Rocky.

Sister Charlotte Gainsbourg is a muse to Anthony Vaccarello at Saint Laurent, while creating dreamy, melancholic-yet-experimental tunes through her solo work as an artist.

Birkin herself remains a figure known simply by her surname, still selling out and garnering much attention when featured in magazine editorials. An original muse of the 60s, Birkin and her daughters embody the ‘It Girl’.

Just how have these ‘It Girls’ managed to craft a legacy spanning over decades of style innovation, revolutions and societal change?

According to Joyce, the answer is simple.

“They were unique! Throughout the decades since, each had an extremely distinct technique that was almost instantly recognisable.”

Image by Rachel Darling