2 August 2012
The Gibson Girl - Camille Clifford
Camilla Antoinette Clifford (29 June 1885 – 28 June 1971) was a Belgian-born stage actress and the most famous model for the "Gibson Girl" illustrations. Her towering coiffure and hourglass figure defined the Gibson Girl style.
Clifford was born in Antwerp, Belgium to parents Reynold Clifford and Matilda Ottersen. Camille was raised in Sweden, Norway and Boston. In the early 1900s she won US$2000 in a magazine contest sponsored by illustrator Charles Dana Gibson to find a living version of his Gibson Girl drawings: his ideal woman.
Clifford became an actress, performing in the United States from 1902 and in England from 1904. She returned from London to Boston on 3 July 1906. While only playing walk-on, non-speaking roles, Clifford became famous nonetheless: not for her talent, but for her beauty. Her trademark style was a long, elegant gown wrapped around her tightly corseted, eighteen-inch wasp waist.
She retired from the stage and married Captain the Honourable Henry Lyndhurst Bruce in 1906. They had one child, Margaret, but the child died five days after birth. Her first husband was killed during The Great War in 1914.
She made a brief return to the stage after the death of her first husband. Then in 1917, married Captain John Meredyth Jones Evans. After the war she left the stage for good and later owned a stable of successful racehorses. Her second husband died in 1957.
Despite her reputation as "the quintessential Gibson Girl", she was by no means the only person to pose for the popular character. Photographs of her taken by Lizzie Caswall Smith in 1905 often appear in historical fashion books and on websites to illustrate the Edwardian style.