The term “supermodel” rose to popularity in the 90s. However, the fashion industry already boasted world-renown models that fit the title long before then.
Many of the earlier models paved the way for modeling as we know it today. Here is a look at some of the most iconic fashion models from the past.
Ines De La Fressange
French model, Ines De La Fressange rose to fame in the 1980s. Karl Lagerfeld took her as his muse due to her resemblance to Coco Chanel.
1983 was a major year for Ines. She signed an exclusivity contract with Chanel and became the first model to have an agreement with just one fashion house.
Suzy Parker stunned audiences from the late 1940s to the early 1960s. The New York fashion model was renowned for her freckles, red hair, and hourglass figure.
The stunning model was a muse of photographer Richard Avedon alongside her sister Dorian. Suzy eventually gained far more fame than her sister and became the first model to earn $100,000 per year.
Credited as the first Black supermodel, Naomi Sims shook the industry. Her big breakthrough was landing the cover of “Ladies’ Home Journal” in November 1968.
By the 1980s, she had firmly carved a space for herself in the industry. She also authored several books on modeling, health, and beauty aimed specifically at Black women. Some of her pieces included “All About Health and Beauty for the Black Woman,” and “How to Be a Top Model.”
Twiggy (AKA Lesley Hornby)
In the 1960s, London model Lesley Hornby drew attention with her wide-eyed Bambi look. Her skinny frame earned her the nickname Twiggy.
Her look was the definition of the swinging sixties. Twiggy was discovered at 16 after getting a haircut in hairdresser Leonard’s West End salon.
Jerry Hall was the Texas darling who stole the show in the late-’70s. She was discovered by an agent on a beach in France. By the time she turned 21, the stunning model went on to appear on over 40 magazine covers.
In 1977 she started dating Mick Jagger before they tied the knot in 1990 and had four children together. Their marriage ended in 1999.
Illinois-born Cindy Crawford is often taught to be one of the first true supermodels in the industry. Modeling from throughout the 1980s and 1990s, her big hair, strong brows, athletic body, and the famous face mole, Cindy was a unique and unforgettable beauty.
Not just a pretty face, She nearly became a chemical engineer. She also famously released the “Cindy Crawford: Shape Your Body” exercise series.
In 1974, Beverly Johnson became the first Black woman to appear on the cover of Vogue. The cover launched her into instant fame in fashion circles.
Her career continued to thrive throughout the late-’70s and ’80s. She reportedly went on to appear in over 500 magazine covers during her career.
Linda Evangelista is one of the most famous models of all time. The 90s supermodel was discovered in pageants in the 80s.
She earned a reputation for being a “chameleon of fashion.” Photographers and designers across the industry, like Gianni Versace and Karl Lagerfeld, often used her as their muse. She appeared on over 700 magazine covers and insisted she won’t “wake up for less than $10,000 a day.”
Another 90s supermodel, Naomi Campbell was discovered on the street in London. Before her sixteenth birthday, she landed the cover of British “Elle.”
She went on to appear on the runways of big-name designers including Azzedine Alaïa and Isaac Mizrahi. In 1988, she became the first Black model featured on the cover of French Vogue. By the late ’80s, Naomi, Christy Turlington, and Linda Evangelista became known as the “Trinity.”
The final member of the 90s “Trinity,” Christy Turlington built her career throughout the ’80s. She was discovered at 14 years old in 1983 while horseback riding.
In 1986, she landed her first Vogue cover. By 1988, she was the face of Calvin Klein fragrance and a well-known model in the industry.