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Along with the emer- gence ot the superstar mannequin came the "charm' school The

girls, at right, were one of the early graduation

classes to receive their

diplomas from June Dally Watkins' school, which opened in 1950.

June Dally Watkins today.

June Dally Watkins looks back on the fabulous 'fifties, when a mannequin was considered the

nearest thing to a goddess

"THE fabulous "50s,"

sighed June Dall\ Watkins, ri il i n ii through thc jumble of laded pietures in the old suit- cases. "They really were

fantastic years.'* she

added, picking out vet another print showing ihe style of the era when she was a top Sydne)


Glamorous laces gazed np fruin the floor where looked-at pictures had been

discarded Ihe hats, thc

hairstyles, the unadorned

luminous e\es. thc dark lipsticks u all belonged lu the "look" of two decades


"Those beautiful evening .owns! Weren't they lavishly

decorated, so feminine, so

glamorous? rhose years were

wonderful ones for fashion.

"Models were Healed like

film stars. Everyone knew

.ur names, we were feled.

Young girls copied our make-up. our hairstyles,

clothes, read about and

cm lcd our glamorous lives. Ml thal has changed I oday ii is matter-of-fact and solely

hard work.

"The '50s models looked like models wherever they

went. Not im them thc casual leans, shin, and no make-up

" Knd wc didn't have such

.1 fantastic range nf cosmetics, wi^s hair-pieces, eyelashes. Wc had lo be

ingenious. If \ou weren't a natural beauly you had little lo help \ou.

"Today's models are very good. You won't recognise

them as models when the\

aren't working, but when ihes do a job lhe\ can create an) image needed. The\ are really cleverer than their prototypes of 20 years ago

And lo them it is a

profession, not a wa\ of life.

"Today a lop model in S\dne\ can earn up to $500 a

week. In 1952 a model was

paid a guinea (S2. IQ) a shot

They were luck\ to earn eight pounds ($16) a week, and the\ had to provide mos!

ot' their ow ii clothes, and of course their cosmetics.

"I remember one girl

complaining because she liad to buv a four pound seven-and-six (SS.75) pair of

flat-heeled shoes for a

particular picture. Vnd she onl) gol a su i nea for the joh!"

(Realising that the cost ol li\my and looking glamorous didn't go together. Sydnev

models in 1952 handed

together forming ihe Man- nequin and l'holographie

Models' \ssociation of \SV\ rhe\ asked lor lu o

guineas for a single shot, or a guinea and a hall for ihe fi rsl shol and a guinea for

successive shoisi

I he reminiscing, w Inch look place in ihe office from

which Juin- controls her

model agenes .md school of deportment, came about because it is 25 years since

site started her classes in a

dusts, old reined photograph-

ic studio.



She opened her "charm" school (as she (hen termed it) with trepidation, expecting it

to be short-lived. But the small class of six she started

out with soon grew, until today she looks back on some 50.000 graduates.

Slim, long-legged, metic- ulously groomed June Oakly

Watkins is now in her middle 40s, and still has the

The New Look was shin length

model's symmetry ol lace, line skin, and (.'lear eyes.

Her yen for modelling hogan when she was growing np in the NSW country town of Watsons Cieek. iiisi out

nf I .miworth

I he eit\ store catalogues were regularly dropped in her parents' mailbox, and she

would read them a\ idl\

"I used iii go through the pages looking al the beauti- ful girls w ho smiled out from them, promising myself that one da) I'd join them.

"When I finished school,

mother and I came to

Sydney. I headed straight for a large department store and

announced thai I wanted to

model. Slramjclv cnoua

they gave me .1 |.>h lhere anti then posing lor theil] catalogue I u.i- paid thc large sum ol ill a guinea

and felt ver\ rich.

"lt was an encouraging >tart. I did the mund* of the lng stores, finally landing

mannequin ¡ob I had no training. "There «.i> nunc in 1944. I was terrible »hen I started, bm as I kept on getting |ohs I learnt and improved and loved it

"As lhere wasn't enough model work in ihosedaysw keep sou going. 1 supplemented my earnings b\ working lor 1 whik a>. a

window dresser and J

make-up anist I didn't kncH thc least ihing about either

hui managed lo bluff I wa) through.

"Each season lhere wi

the mannequin parades - the) were called And we the) productions! B

audiences, afternoon lc binding staircases, an catwalks. And wc »ere ll superstars ¡;irN like Fai I olkes. Coralie kelk Ld Stevens, .lune Mallei. Pa

1 irman."

June modelled Chrisiuu Dior's controversial Ne« Look when II U.IN paraded" S\dne\ in Il>4s thc lïrsl lin« thc designer had Jl0»1 outside Paris She al*' modelled loi Balmain, who sen i a collcclion c'f ckw

I June Dally Watkins showing a white chiffon Carven gown at the ? opening ot The Australian Women's Weekly-sponsored 1947 season fl of famous -rench fashions, held at Sydney's Princes restaurant

Above: A fashion shot of the 1950s with June Dally Watkins, centre. Lois Stevens, top left. June Mallet, top right, and Pam Clemson, bottom right.

Left: Jeanette Elphick, later to become film star Victoria Shaw, being made up by June Dally Watkins for her first photographic assignment at 15.

t>\ both Paris and Sydne\ models.

Die New Look was

thin length had nipped-in

a I whirlaway, stiffened skirts.

"lt took ne four years to

e ¡ablished. The

pinnacle was when I won a

iper Model of the Year award' and started to mate mone* . which wasn't

days. But I trea d my work as a career rather than a

ilamorous ij of life."

The next step in that

came in 1950 when

mother urged her to the charm" school, tr hools were

liing m Europe and 1 had brochures printed

! would accept led' students - what u

for eight weeks' -ti m deportment, pooming. make-up. manne

and exercises,

I the telephone numbei

' ross flat

Then I hired t

biographic studio for nigh

si) students of the »eek MC« to 12 in the

second. And from this class

came Pat Woodley. Maureen

Duval, and Fran Wilkins -

all to become big names in

the model world, with Pat

going on to win the Miss

Australia title.

"In all, 1 have trained seven Miss Australias.

"I kept on modelling during the day because I was sure the school wasn't going

to last."

Before the school's

opening June spent weeks

putting together a program which she thought would help young girls gain confidence and help them

it they wanted to be models.

"I tried to work out what had made me successful. The

walking. standing. the techniques for skin and hair care, how to dress. I learnt the hard way by trial and error, but it helped me with mv teaching."

When she ordered 20

diplomas to be printed for her first graduation cere- mony, her mother said.

".Make it 300. they'll be cheaper."

"I was horrified, wonder-

ing what I'd do with all those leftover diplomas."

There were no leftovers. The school flourished. So much so that after six months

she opened another, in Brisbane, training staff to run it. lt is still operating.

As classes continued to

grow more space was needed in Sydney, so June moved to

an old film studio in

Castlereagh Street. She

borrowed a desk, built a

three-ply partition around it.

and installed her first

business telephone.

"That studio was well used. There were auction

sales in it during the day, and screenings of advertising

films. Then fd move in with

my girls. I was still working as a model, nearly killing myself. but life was stimulating, exciting."

When the idea of starting a model agency first came to her. she was told that it just

wouldn't work, that clients

liked to personally contact

the models.

"But I knew advertising

agencies were getting busier and I was turning out some good professional models.

"'Some of the first names

on my agency books were Jeanette Elphick - remem-

ber, she went to Hollywood

and changed her name to

Victoria Shaw when she became a film star? -

Michelle Safargy. Jean Newington, and Marie


"That agency was really the beginning of serious

training tor models in Sydney, and modelling itself

became a serious business.

"Clients soon got into the habit of phoning to ask if I could send the right type of model for a specific photograph. Soon we were getting up to 100 model jobs a day."

By this time June had moved again - to a "junk" room in the same building,

where she created a better office for herselfand one for her secretary.

In 1952 with the school

and agency well established,

and associate teachers

trained, June took a collection of clothes round

the world to give one-man mannequin shows. When she found she couldn't get a compere to appear with her, she'd compere herself.

"1 felt like a one-man

band, parading in a gown and then racing up to the microphone to describe it."

Orry-Kellv. the American dress designer, introduced her to the Hollywood world More pictures plucked from

"Young girls read about our glamorous lives"

thc suitcase showed her with

Spencer Tracy. Fred Astaire. Cary Grant. Deborah Kerr. Bob Hope, and Gregors Peck, "who was someone very special."

She met him again in Italy and has faded Rome newspaper clippings with pictures of her holding hands

with the handsome star as

they strolled along a street, sitting with him at a famous


"I still correspond with him and with Bob Hope."

Back in Sydney. June married John Clifford and

during the next few vears had tour children, still working dav and night. "I'd leave the hospital with a baby and go straight into the


"As a working mother. 1 was made to feel guilty and

told that mv children would

turn into delinquents. I'm glad to sav that Carel, who is 20. Timothy. 18, Marc. 14. and Lisa. 12, are the most normal and wonderful children.

"To me children need two

things: love and security. And they can miss out on these even if they have a mother who stavs home ail the time."

Today. June's interests are grouped in the one George Street building.

Her main business concern

is her training courses.

"I'm approaching my ^0s but to me life is still exciting and stimulating. Although

there are times when I feel a

little like a female Mr Chips.

"That's when girls come in to sign up for a course and

tell me their mothers - and grandmothers - did one

before them."