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10 Supermodels of the 1990s
10 Supermodels of the 1990s

10 Supermodels of the 1990s

Words by Georgia Gordon

Kate Moss 1996

Kate Moss

London-born model Kate Moss is arguably one of the world’s most famous supermodels. A member of the Magnificent Seven; a reference to 7 of the most famous supermodels of the 80’s and 90’s, coined by New York Times’ Frank DeCaro, Kate Moss found her fame after a holiday in the Bahamas where Sarah Doukas (founder of Storm Model Management) discovered her at JFK Airport. After being shot by Corinne Day for The Face at aged 16, Moss made her debut as a young, unknown model. The pictures were described as “dirty realism” and “grunge” by Day, who shot her again for Levi’s not long after. Eventually, Moss was dubbed the “anti-supermodel”, for her “heroin-chic” look which contrasted that of her curvaceous predecessors like Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford. Moss has featured in countless campaigns for designers from Chanel and Louis Vuitton to Isabel Marant and Alexander McQueen. She has featured on the cover of British Vogue 30 times and 17 issues of W Magazine. 

Naomi Campbell, 1997

Naomi Campbell

Nineties icon Naomi Campbell was just 7 when she made an appearance in Bob Marley’s ‘Is This Love’ music video. Born in London to a mother who worked as a professional dancer, Campbell followed in her footsteps, practising dance from the age of 3. Whilst studying ballet at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, she was discovered by Beth Boldt (head of Synchro Model Agency) at aged 15. By 16, Campbell graced the cover of British Elle and the rest was history. One of the ‘Magnificent Seven’, Campbell often faced racial discrimination throughout her rise to fame. In response to this, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista (also models in the Magnificent Seven) would tell designers, ‘If you don’t use Naomi, you don’t get us’. Having modelled for almost every designer and magazine you could imagine, Campbell continues to model regularly to this day. 

 Christy Turlington, 1994

Christy Turlington

California born Christy Turlington was first discovered by photographer Dennie Cody whilst riding a horse in Miami. This led to her modelling during her summer holidays from aged 14 – 16 until she moved to New York at 18 to pursue modelling full-time. Turlington has graced a number of magazine covers from Vogue to Elle and Harper’s Bazaar to Tatler. She has modelled in campaigns for countless designers including Calvin Klein, Chanel, Prada and Yves Saint Laurent to name a few. One of the aforementioned ‘Magnificent Seven’, Turlington featured in numerous fashion related documentaries throughout the nineties. In 1994, Turlington returned to her studies and graduated with a bachelors in Comparative Religion and Eastern Philosophy from New York University. In 2010, Turlington began directing films, her first being ‘No Women, No Cry’, a 60-minute documentary on maternal health. The same year she founded Ever Mother Counts, a non-profit organisation that aims to make pregnancy and child-birth safe for all mothers. Married to actor Edward Burns, Turlington continues to direct films and do charity work.

 Linda Evangelista for Prada SS 1991

Linda Evangelista

 Canadian supermodel Linda Evangelista was born to Italian immigrants in 1965. Growing up in a working-class environment, Evangelista attended a modelling school at aged 12 where she learned about poise and etiquette, before she began modelling locally in her hometown. After entering the Miss Teen Niagara competition in 1981, she was discovered by a representative from Elite and later that year flew to Japan to pursue modelling. After an unpleasant experience involving nudity, Evangelista was put off modelling for a short while, returning home to Canada for several years. In 1984, Evangelista decided to try her hand at modelling once again, signing to Elite and moving to New York before they moved her one again to Paris, where her career really took off. Evangelista has modelled for the cover of over 700 publications worldwide including Allure, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Glamour. 1985 she became a muse to none other than Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel, who famously said of the model "There is not another model in the world as professional as she is". After photographer Peter Lindbergh encouraged her to cut her hair short, Evangelista was cut from 16 fashion shows. Not long after, her hairstyle was the cut of the season and referred to as “The Linda”. Famously quoted saying “we don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day”, male model Tyson Beckford was quoted saying that Evangelista was instrumental in getting models higher pay rates. Another one of the Magnificent Seven, Evangelista is considered one of the most influential models of her time although she no longer models to this day like many of her reciprocals. 

Claudia Schiffer for Chanel, 1995 

Claudia Schiffer

Blonde hair, blue-eyed supermodel Claudia Schiffer was first spotted in a nightclub by Michel Levaton (of Metropolitan Model Agency) in Düsseldorf. She signed to Metropolitan and flew to Paris after high-school for a trial shoot that to her featuring on the cover of Elle. At the beginning of the 90’s, Schiffer modelled for Guess and was instrumental in the brand gaining the recognition it grew to receive. After multiple other magazine covers, Karl Lagerfeld chose Schiffer to be the new face of Chanel. In 1997, Schiffer featured on the cover of Playboy and was listed as one of Vogue’s ‘Modern Muses’ for their millennial cover in 1999. Like many of her reciprocals, Schiffer has dabbled in acting, featuring in The Blackout, Friends & Lover, Black and White and even Zoolander in 2001. Aside from Versace’s S/s ’18 show that saw the reunion of 5 famous 80’s/90’s supermodels, Schiffer has not returned to modelling like many of her friends. Now married to producer and director Matthew Vaughn, Schiffer, her husband and her three children live in England. 

 Carla Bruni, Paris 1995

Carla Bruni

Italian born supermodel and musician Carla Bruni signed with City Models in 1987 after Paul Marciano of Guess came across her picture amongst composite cards of aspiring models. After a campaign with Guess, Bruni saw her modelling career take off, working with the likes of Givenchy, Dior, Chanel and Versace to name a few. In the 1990’s, Bruni was one of 20 of the highest paid fashion models and dated the likes of Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger. In 1997, however, Bruni quit modelling to pursue music and in 2003 her debut album sold 2 million copies with many of the tracks featuring in movies and even H&M’s Christmas commercial. In 2008, a photograph of Bruni from 1993 sold at auction for $91,000 USD, 60 times more than the expected selling price. Now married to France’s ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy, Bruni continues to occasionally model and recently walked for Balmain’s S/S ’22 show alongside Naomi Campbell.

 Cindy Crawford, 1991

Cindy Crawford

Illinois born Cindy Crawford first considered modelling after being the subject of a cruel prank in high school. Young boys from her school called her, pretending to be a local store asking her to do a photoshoot for them. Despite the nasty prank, Crawford ended up entering Elite Model Management’s Look of the Year contest at just 17 after being asked to feature on the cover of DeKalb Nite Weekly – a local paper. The shot was of her by her boyfriend’s pool in a bikini. The photographer of the shoot then suggested she find herself an agent and she followed his advice. This saw her entering Elite’s contest where she became runner-up. Despite being runner-up in the contest, Elite Chicago started representing her. In 1986, after graduating from high-school as valedictorian and accepting a scholarship to study chemical engineering at Northwestern University, Crawford dropped out and moved to New York to pursue modelling. She signed with Elite New York and went on to model alongside Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Tatjana Patitz and Linda Evangelista. Crawford has graced the cover of countless publications including Vogue, Elle, Playboy and Harper’s Bazaar, and modelled for the likes of Dior, Versace, Chanel and Valentino. 

 Helena Christensen for Versace SS 1992

Helena Christensen

Copenhagen born supermodel Helena Christensen was crowned Miss Universe Denmark at just 17 years old in 1986. The following year she competed in the Look of the Year competition and although she didn’t win, she was a finalist. Not long after she left home for Paris to pursue modelling, becoming well known throughout the 90’s as a member of the Magnificent Seven. After appearing in a Chris Isaak music video for “Wicked Game”, the video was featured on MTV’s “Sexiest Video of All-Time” and in VH1’s “50 Sexiest Video Moments” and “100 Greatest Videos”. In 1992, she was a spokeswoman for Revlon cosmetics, and she has appeared on the cover of the likes of Vogue, Elle, W and Harper’s Bazaar. Perhaps best known as a Victoria’s Secret angel, Christensen was also the co-founder of Nylon Magazine and is an advocate for breast cancer and climate change organisations. Christensen continues to model to this day, gracing the covers of Vogue (2016), Tatler and Elle (2018), as well as appearing alongside Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford and Carla Bruni in Versace’s S/S ’18 show.

 Stephanie Seymour for Alaia A/W 1990

Stephanie Seymour

California girl Stephanie Seymour was a finalist in Elite Model Management’s Look of the Year competition at age 15. It didn’t take long after that for her career to take off, and she became one of Victoria’s Secret’s first angels. After modelling in multiple issues of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issues and appearing on the cover of Vogue, Seymour was quickly likened to fellow models Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Cindy Crawford and was cited as one of the “original supermodels’ in the book In Vogue: The Illustrated History of the World’s Most Famous Fashion Magazine. Seymour’s first acting stint was as a character in video game Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller which led to two more roles in the movie Pollock and in the series Law & Order in which she featured in one episode. More recently, in 2017, Seymour co-founded lingerie label Raven & Sparrow which is exclusively sold at Barneys New York. 

Tyra Banks for Vibe Magazine 1997

Tyra Banks

Supermodel Tyra Banks was rejected by four modelling agencies before LA Models signed her at age 15. By 16, Banks switched to Elite Model Management and not long after, moved to Milan. From there her career took off and she booked 25 shows for her first runway season in 1991. Banks has been on the cover of the world’s most elite publications including Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and Teen Vogue. She has also featured in campaigns for the likes of Dior, YSL, Chanel and Marc Jacobs. Banks was the first African-Americna woman on the cover of both Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue and GQ. She was also a Victoria’s Secret angel from 1997-2005. In 1993 she made her acting debut in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and has since appeared in multiple films and TV shows including Higher Learning, Coyote Ugly, Gossip Girl and Glee. One of her most iconic stints was as the creator, producer and presenter of America’s Next Top Model. 

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