10 Supermodels of the 1970s by Georgia Gordon
10 Supermodels of the 1970s
10 Supermodels of the 1970s

10 Supermodels of the 1970s

Words by Georgia Gordon

Gia Carangi

Considered the world’s first ever supermodel, Gia Caragni was bold, sexy and controversial. She was one of the first openly gay models, famously comparing the only time she ever had sex with a man to something she “could have done with a German Shepherd”. Signed by model Wilhelmina Cooper to her agency Wilhelmina Models, Cooper quickly became a mother figure to Gia whose own mother abandoned her when she was just 11 years old. Coming from a family of very little, Carangi’s quick rise to modelling fame saw her working for the likes of Vogue, Dior, Versace, Yves Saint Laurent and Armani, to name a few.Her breakthrough shoot was one with Chris von Wangenheim, where she posed naked behind a chain link fence with makeup artist Sandy Linter. In 1980 she appeared in Blondie’s music video for “Atomic”.  Sadly, with the pressures of her new life and the death of Wilhelmina Cooper in 1980, Carangi turned to heroin and her career took a turn. In 1985, Gia was diagnosed with AIDs, passing away at the young age of 26 from AIDs related complications. Twelve years after her tragic death, a movie was released about the story of her life. A barely famous Angelina Jolie played Gia Carangi and went on to win a Golden Globe for her performance.

 Grace Jones, 1983

Grace Jones

Before becoming a famous musician, Jamaican born Grace Jones had an impressive modelling career in the 60’s and 70’s. Signing to Wilhelmina Models in 1966, Jones moved to Paris in 1970 where her career really took flight. Best known for her androgynous appearance and bold looks, Jones was hired by the likes of Yves Saint Laurent, Alaïa, Kenzo, Vogue and Elle. In Paris, Jones shared an apartment with Jerry Hall and Jessica Lange, with whom she would frequent Parisian gay club Le Sept, alongside Karl Lagerfeld and Giorgio Armani. In 1977, Jones went on to pursue a career in music, signing with Island Records and making disco music. Jones also featured in a handful of low-budget movies in the 70’s before appearing in mainstream movies Conan the Destroyer, James Bond: A View to Kill, Vamp, Boomerang and Wolf Girl. Jones continues to work on her music and has a son named Paulo, who is following in her modelling and musical footsteps.

Jerry Hall at Studio 54

Jerry Hall

Texas born Jerry Hall was already 5 foot 10 inches at the age of 14. After she came into some insurance money from an accident at aged 16, she used the money for a one-way plane ticket to Paris to pursue her modelling career. At just 21 years old, Hall boasted a total of 40 magazine covers and was modelling for the likes of Thierry Mugler and Yves Saint Laurent. Hall famously married Rolling Stone’s front-man Mick Jagger and the two went on to have 4 children together, one of whom is model Georgia May Jagger. Later in her career, Hall turned to acting, appearing as Mrs. Robinson in the 2000 stage production of The Graduate. In 2016, Hall married Rupert Murdoch and although she no longer models, her daughters Georgia May and Elizabeth Jagger continue her legacy.

Lauren Hutton

South Carolina-born May Laurence Hutton moved to New York in her early 20’s to pursue her modelling career. She officially changed her name to Lauren Hutton and although she often booked modelling gigs, she was advised to hide the gap in her teeth. Eventually deciding to use this “flaw” to her advantage, the All Movie Guide wrote that her gap “gave her on-camera persona a down-home sensibility that other, more ethereal models lacked”. In 1968, she was shot by Richard Avedon for a Chanel campaign and five years later she signed a contract with Revlon which, at the time, was the biggest contract in the history of the modelling industry. Hutton has also dabbled in acting and appeared in movies such as The Gambler and American Gigolo. She is now in her 70’s and continues to model, having appeared in campaigns with H&M, Alexander Wang, and Lord & Taylor. Hutton even walked the runway for Tom Ford’s SS 2012 collection and Bottega Veneta’s show at NYFW in 2016.

Janice Dickinson by Peter Beard 1983

Janice Dickinson

Moving to New York in 1970, Janice Dickinson found herself turned down by agencies for being “too ethnic” at a time when blonde haired, blue-eyed models stormed the scene. Eventually, Dickinson signed with Wilhelmina Cooper’s agency and moved to France where her appearance was much more accepted. Moving back to New York in 1978, Dickinson was signed by Ford Models (who had initially deemed her unworthy of being on their books) and, hell-bent on revenge, Dickinson abandoned them for Elite Model Management alongside 19 other Ford-signed models. Dickinson went on to appear on the covers (and within the pages) of a number of publications including Vogue, Marie Claire, Playboy and Harper’s Bazaar. She also modelled for the likes of Versace, Alaïa, Valentino and Calvin Klein. Dickinson has appeared on the cover of Vogue 37 times. In recent years, Dickinson has become something of a reality star. After appearing as a judge on 4 cycles of America’s Next Top Model, she started her own modelling agency, then became a contestant on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, as well as appearing on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew and Celebrity Big Brother.

Marisa Berenson By Slim Aarons in Capri 1968

Marisa Berenson

Dubbed “the girl of the Seventies” by Yves Saint Laurent himself, we couldn’t not include Marisa Berenson. Starting her modelling career at just 16, Berenson was the granddaughter of famous Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli. Discovered by Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, Berenson naturally appeared on multiple covers of Vogue and became known as “The Queen of the Scene” for her regular appearances at famous nightclubs throughout the Seventies. Berenson modelled for numerous designers in her prime, including Yves Saint Laurent, Alaïa and Halston, and was photographed by the likes of Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton and Irving Penn. Balancing modelling with acting at the time, Berenson appeared in movies Cabaret, Death in Venice and Barry Lyndon to name a few. 

Patti Hansen by Arthur Elgort 1977

Patti Hansen

Discovered by photographer Peter Gert at a Staten Island hot dog stand at the young age of 14, supermodel Patti Hansen quickly signed to Wilhelmina Models after her and Gert attended a party together. Hansen went on to appear on the cover of numerous publications including Seventeen, Vogue, Glamour and Harper’s Bazaar. She also famously modelled for the likes of Calvin Klein, Versace and Courréges. In 1980, Hansen stopped modelling and pursued acting, meeting musician Keith Richards in 1983, who she is still with today. The pair have two daughters. After appearing in feature films They All Laughed and Hard to Hold, Hansen returned to modelling in 1993. In 1999, she appeared on the Millennium cover of American Vogue as one of their “Modern Muses”. Just two years ago, aged 63, Hansen walked for Michael Kors’ Studio 54 inspired FW 2019 collection.

Margaux Hemingway Francesco Scavullo, 1975

Margaux Hemingway

Granddaughter of famous writer Ernest Hemingway, supermodel Margaux Hemingway became one of the faces of the Seventies. Born tall, blonde and striking, it wasn’t long before Hemingway became one of America’s most sought-after models, appearing on the covers of Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar. Vogue even dubbed her “New York’s New Supermodel” in 1975. Hemingway was a Studio 54 regular and rubbed shoulders with the likes of Bianca Jagger, Grace Jones and Andy Warhol. In 1976, she appeared in the cult film Lipstick, then in Italian horror film Killer Fish in 1979. More movie roles followed but Hemingway was reportedly often very depressed, relying on drugs and alcohol, despite her life looking glamorous from the outside. In 1990 she made a comeback appearance on the cover of Playboy but six years later, aged 42, Hemingway sadly took her own life.

Cheryl Tiegs for Sports Illustrated

Cheryl Tiegs

Supermodel Cheryl Tiegs' career began after a swimsuit ad she appeared in for Cole of California was featured in Seventeen magazine. The ad was noticed by editorial staff at Glamour magazine, and they quickly got her on their cover when she was just 17. In the same year she went on to feature on the covers of Elle and Seventeen before making it onto the covers of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Best known for having several appearances on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issues, including the one with famous white fishnet swimsuit in 1978, Tiegs naturally made it into their 40th anniversary “Hall of Fame”. Her famous 1978 “Pink Bikini” poster is considered an iconic collector’s item. In 1980, Tiegs launched a collection at Sears and is considered responsible for helping the retail chain with its turnaround after the collection amassed nearly $1 billion in sales. Named one of Men’s Health’s 100 Hottest Women of All Time, and gracing the cover of People magazine four times, Tiegs is considered one of the most iconic models of her time. Not just a pretty face, she is also well known for her philanthropy work, advocating for environmental protection, reproductive rights and supporting the Farrah Fawcett Foundation, amongst many other charities.

Beverly Johnson walking for Halston's runway show

Beverly Johnson

Considered one of the first African American supermodels, Beverly Johnson’s career kicked off after walking into the office of Glamour magazine and asking for a modelling job. Obsessed with her look, the editors hired her right away and saw their circulation doubling after she appeared on their front cover. Within two years, she had appeared on the cover six times and in 1974, her career really kicked off after she became the first African American to appear on the cover of American Vogue. One year later, she became the first African American to appear on the cover of French Elle. Boasting over 500 magazine covers, Johnson’s success paved the way for black models around the world. As well as modelling, Johnson has appeared in a handful of movies and appeared as a guest on 7 different television series. She is also a best selling author, having written a number of books on health and beauty. In 2008, New York Times dubbed her one of the 20th century’s most influential people in fashion.

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