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Last Updated on March 3, 2022
The 90s was a decade dominated by supermodel celebrities. They hosted TV shows, appeared in music videos, and left their mark on fashion and beauty alike.
We even have some of them to thank for their current supermodel daughters!
Read ahead for all the details of the classic fashion models that ruled the 90s catwalk!
The Creation of the Supermodels
Originally, there was a huge divide between the old-time models that grazed the cover of magazines and starred in cosmetics advertisements, particularly during the 70s and the 80s, and the ones that appeared on haute couture runways in Paris and other fashion capitals of the world.
During the 90s, fashion insiders like Franca Sozzani (editor of the Italian Vogue), and photographer Steven Meisel, chartered the way for their favorite models and made them skyrocket to fame.
The phenomenon of the supermodel as we know it can be attributed to one decisive event: Gianni Versace sending Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, and Christy Turlington down the catwalk in 1992.
The original 4 supermodels (Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, and Cindy Crawford) closed runway shows, covered magazines, appeared in high fashion ads, and secured endorsement deals for beauty, makeup, and all manner of products. Claudia Schiffer joined them first, creating the denomination the “Big Five”, which would later evolve into the “Big Six” when Kate Moss joined them. This final group would become the Big Six supermodels of the 90s.
Top Supermodels of the 90s
#6. Linda Evangelista
Chameleon style and infectious smile
She was born on May 10th, 1965 in Toronto, to Italian parents and is originally from St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. She was scouted at the age of 18, at the Miss Teen Niagara beauty contest and began her modeling carrier signing with Elite Model Management in 1984.
Most famous moments:
She is regarded as one of the most influential former models of all time and has appeared on over 700 magazine covers. She is known for being photographer Steven Meisel’s longtime muse.
According to Peter Lindbergh’s suggestion, Linda cut her hair short and ushered an era of pixie cuts and short do’s that would spread like wildfire. Her short haircut looked gorgeous and soon, it was everywhere (in its redhead state and in every color imaginable!) becoming as much a part of the pop culture as “the Rachel” would later on.
She went out in nothing but a towel for the 91’s Dolce & Gabbana show and entered Anna Sui’s runway on the back of a scooter in 95 while singing Generation X’s “Ready Steady Go”.
She was photographed by Steven Meisel, Arthur Elgort, Wayne Maser, Bill King, François Halard, and Alex Chatelain on Vogue. She also modeled for Chanel, Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent. She was a favorite of Karl Lagerfeld who once compared her to a Stradivarius saying “you can play her like you can play no other instrument”.
She is living in England, and although she retired briefly from the world of fashion, she recently appeared in campaigns for Moschino, and Dolce & Gabbana. She was named Creative Director and Vice President of the Erasa Skin Care brand.
#5. Naomi Campbell
Striking cheekbones and almond-shaped eyes
She was born on 22 May 1970 and is originally from Streatham, South London, England. She was studying ballet at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London and was 15 when she was discovered. Beth Boldt, a model scout, spotted her while window shopping in London’s Covent Garden.
Most famous moments:
In 1978, Naomi was taken from a children’s party to appear in Bob Marley’s “Is This Love”. Two years after being discovered in London, she was the first black model to grace the cover of British Vogue.
She was a leading figure of “The Big Six”. Although, according to Naomi herself, she never cashed in the money her peers did. She is one of the leading British supermodels.
In April 1992, she posed for the 100th Anniversary cover of American Vogue with a few other top models and was photographed by Patrick Demarchelier. In 1995, she opened a new business venture, Fashion Cafe, with fellow models Elle McPherson and Claudia Schiffer. (The six-location chain closed within five years).
Her famous character and anger management issues would become a stable and recurring occurrence during her life. She was labeled a difficult person to work with by some magazines and in 1998, pleaded guilty to one assault charge by Georgina Galanis, her assistant, of an alleged hit with a phone. Her phone throwing antics would become a tongue-in-cheek popular joke.
In 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Naomi began a Youtube web series called No Filter with Naomi, interviewing varied guests (Cindy Crawford, Marc Jacobs, Adut Akech, Christy Turlington, Ashley Graham, and Nicole Richie among others).
In October 2020, Apple TV confirmed a documentary about Campbell, Crawford, Evangelista, and Turlington, named The Supermodels. Most recently, she was named the face of Hood by Air.
#4. Christy Turlington
Homely beauty, a girl next door look, and enigmatic smile
Born on January 2, 1969. She is from Oakland, California, United States. She was discovered by Dennie Cody, a local photographer, while she rode a horse in Miami, Florida. She modeled on and off from the age of 14 to 16 and then moved to New York when she turned 18, to model full time. She gave up the catwalk in 1994, after modeling for a decade.
Most famous moments:
She appeared in international fashion magazines including Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire, Glamour, Tatler, Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Allure, and Time. She was originally one of the Trinity models that shook the catwalks during the nineties.
She represented the Calvin Klein brand several times throughout her career, most notoriously in 1989 and 2014. She also worked as a model for Maybelline, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Louis Vuitton, and Prada, among others.
Read: A Brief History of Prada
After dropping her modeling career she graduated from college and reinvented herself as a businesswoman, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in comparative religion and eastern philosophy in 1999. She launched her own line Nuala with Puma, for yoga-inspired clothing, as well as a skincare range, Sundãri.
She has written for Marie Claire, Yoga Journal, Teen Vogue, and The Huffington Post.
She is big on charity, participating in Bono’s organization Red that helps fund the distribution of anti-retroviral drugs to HIV victims in Africa as well as her own non-profit organization, Every Mother Counts, dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for all mothers.
#3. Cindy Crawford
Savage hair, brunette natural color, and upper lip beauty mark
Born on February 20, 1966. She is from DeKalb, Illinois, United States. During her junior year, Roger Lee (a local photographer), asked to take her picture for the DeKalb Nite Weekly and it turned into her first cover. She went on to model for Elite Model Management after being the runner-up at the Look of the Year contest when she was 17.
Most famous moments:
She was featured on the January 1990 edition of British Vogue (check the feature image!) along with Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, and Naomi Campbell. That same year, they all appeared in George Michael’s Freedom ‘90 video. At the 63rd Academy Awards in 1991, she wore a red Versace dress that has been reproduced and copied all over the world.
In 1994, she played Jon Bon Jovi’s lost love in the video for his “Please Come Home for Christmas” music video, as well as the video for Duran Duran’s “Girl Panic” in 2011, and Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” in 2015.
She was frequently featured on the cover of fashion magazines like Vogue, Allure, Bazaar, Elle, Cosmopolitan, and the like. All in all, she has appeared on more than 500 magazine covers. She also walked runway shows for multiple brands like Calvin Klein, Hermes, Balmain, Versace, Halston, Gap, and more. She also tried acting, appearing in films like Fair Game.
In 1998, she was ranked number 5 on Playboy’s list of sexiest stars of the 20th century. She is still one of the most relevant American supermodels.
Crawford quit modeling full-time around 2000 and dedicated herself to a beauty line of products and other business endeavors. A few years ago, she also co-wrote her own book Becoming. She has appeared on a few cover magazines together with her daughter, Kaia Gerber, who is also a working model and has gained supermodel status in recent years.
#2. Claudia Schiffer
Perfect face and statuesque body
She was born in Rheinberg, North Rhine-Westphalia, in West Germany on August 25, 1970. Claudia was discovered at a Dusseldorf nightclub when she was 17 by Michel Levaton (head of Metropolitan Model Agency) in 1987, who convinced her to relocate to Paris. She was already a full-fledged model by the 90s.
Most famous moments:
She became the face of Guess in 1990. And was later chosen by Karl Lagerfeld as the face of Chanel. Since then, she’s covered more than 500 magazines and starred in campaigns for many high fashion houses (YSL, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, etc).
The number of magazine covers she has done, together with the high fashion brands she has walked the runway for, make it impossible to list them all. Trust me when I say the list was loong…
She still holds a contract with L’Oreal and is one of their longest-standing ambassadors. Other brands that she has fronted are Citröen, Mango, and Accessorize. She also made a couple of exercise videos, which reached the bestseller list.
In 2000, she appeared on Jon Bon Jovi’s video “Say It Isn’t So”.
She models part-time for brands like Ferragamo, Yves St. Laurent, Alberta Ferretti, and Chanel. She lives in England and has three children with her husband Matthew Vaughn.
She still holds the record of having the most magazine covers (apparently, more than 1000 according to Glamour) and is considered one of the best supermodels. In 2020, she won GQ’s Woman of the Year award. She lives in Oxfordshire, England, with her husband and three children.
#1. Kate Moss
Waif silhouette, boyish attitude, skinny silhouette, and rebel supermodel.
Born on January 16, 1974. She was discovered when she was 14 years old at the JFK airport by Sarah Doukas (founder of the Storm model agency). She is originally from Croydon, Greater London, England, and was an instant international super teen success.
Most famous moments:
She was featured in Levi’s campaign right at the beginning of her career when she was only 16 and went on to become the “anti-supermodel” de the 1990s.
She was the poster supermodel for the “heroin chic” look throughout the 90s. This appearance was reinforced by her rebel attitude, continued partying, and drug consumption. She was also loved for her grunge model style and attitude.
She starred in many controversial Calvin Klein underwear ads (a memorable one accompanying Mark Wahlberg), mainly because she was only 18 at the time. She was also featured in campaigns by most high fashion brands at one point or another and did covers for Vogue UK, the US, and French Vogue, as well as Harper’s Bazaar, Sport’s Illustrated, Vanity Fair, and W.
She was dropped during 2005 from an H&M campaign due to drug allegations. A day later, Chanel announced it would not renew her contract, and Burberry proceeded to do the same. She went on to appear in Dior campaigns and was publicly defended by Alexander McQueen, who would later use a hologram of the model in one of his runway shows.
She has managed to survive quite a few controversies and has continued modeling. She has also designed multiple collaborations, including several collections with Topshop and handbags for Longchamp. She also has a daughter, Lila Grace Moss-Hack, who is making a name for herself in the fashion industry by following her mother’s steps as a model.
DNA Models Naomi Campbell. DNA Model Management LLC.
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