From Cindy Crawford in the 80s to Kate Moss in the 90s, supermodels reigned supreme on the runway. Although we’ve seen the rise of Victoria Secret models, including Giselle Bundchen, and a new breed of runway favorites, like Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner, one can argue that nothing was quite like the era of the 80s and 90s supermodels.
At the peak of their supermodel stardom, one can hardly turn around without seeing the stunning faces of these 80s and 90s supermodels—from every imaginable ad campaign, fashion magazine covers to unforgettable music videos (remember George Michael’s Freedom! music video, anyone?).
Perhaps a big part of their enduring legacy is that, despite more than a decade now, many of these supermodels continue to captivate us by their newfound mission, like Cristy Turlington who founded Every Mother Counts, or the possibility of a mom-to-daughter passing of torch, like Cindy Crawford, whose daughter, Kaia, recently stirred a buzz in the high-fashion world when she made her runway debut for Calvin Klein’s Spring 2018 collection at New York Fashion Week.
The most appropriate homage to these 80s and 90s supermodels was, however, the reunion of Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Helena Christensen and Carla Bruni at Versace’s Spring/Summer 2018 Fashion Show, which paid tribute to the late Gianni Versace. Looking every inch like goddesses in their gold Versace dresses, the women just reminded us why, in the world of fashion, they are a league of their own.
In all honesty, it’s near impossible to pick a favorite since every single one of these 80s and 90s supermodels have their unique beauty and personal style. But as a throwback to celebrate the magnificent era of the 80s and 90s supermodels, we’re highlighting the “original five” (made famous by Peter Lindbergh’s 1990 British Vogue cover), who helped set the standards of what’s it like to be a supermodel.
There’s no argument here. When it comes to creating iconic moments in the fashion world, no one did it like Cindy Crawford. Case in point: Who could possibly forget that half-time SuperBowl commercial in 1992 when the stunning beauty, wearing a body-hugging white tee and cut-off denim shorts, popped open a cold can of Pepsi? Crawford, who was the muse of every fashion designer at one point, has so many runway and commercial credits that, to this day, she remains one of the most enduring names in the fashion industry. After retiring from modeling in 2000, she focused on family life and became an entrepreneur, launching her own furniture company and beauty line.
The story is that Cristy Turlington was discovered at the age of 14 while horseback riding. She was the face of several big-name beauty brands, most notably Maybelline and Calvin Klein. Back in the supermodel days, Turlington was part of the supermodel “trinity” (which included Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista), a term coined by photographer Steven Meisel to denote the trio’s rising popularity. Off the runway, Turlington’s making a mark as a humanitarian. Named Times’ Most 100 Influential People in 2014, she currently serves on the Harvard Medical School Global Health Council and founded the nonprofit organization Every Mother Counts to help promote pregnancy and childbirth safety.
Walking in the footsteps of Iman, Naomi Campbell helped break the glass ceiling for all black models after she became the first black model to appear on the cover of Time magazine, French Vogue and Russian Vogue. Since she was discovered in London at age 15, she has been photographed in more than 500 magazines and was a favorite on the runway by fashion designers, including Chanel, Christian Dior, Valentino and Versace. Although Campbell had her share of bad press, including a “cell phone throwing incident” that was publicly covered by the media, she is now actively involved in charity work in South Africa. In 1997, Nelson Mandela named her “Honorary Granddaughter” for her endless activism.
Among the original supermodels, Linda Evangelista is perhaps the most interesting. Dubbed as the “Chameleon,” Evangelista is a favorite among designers and fashion photographers for her ability to transform her look, reinventing herself in almost every shot. In October 1988, photographer Peter Lindberg had her long hair cropped super short. It proved to be the right move for her career: The bold hairdo soon became her trademark look, landing her multiple Vogue covers and more runway success. “We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day,” she was once quoted, referencing how supermodels like her are changing the game by knowing and demanding their professional worth. Today, Evangelista is a mother and has worked as ambassador for the Viva Glam V charity campaign.
An avid horsewoman, the German beauty Tatjana Patiz competed in the Elite Model Look at age 17. After placing third, she won a modeling contract and moved to Paris in the mid 1980s. While she worked with many notable photographers in the past, she had an enduring professional relationship with Lindbergh who helped launched her to supermodel status. Lindberg’s photo of Patiz in white cotton shirt laughing in the beach with the other original supermodels is considered one of the most iconic fashion photographs of all time.
Patiz appeared in several fashion campaigns, most notably for Revlon’s “The Most Unforgettable Women in the World” campaign in 1987. An animal lover, Patiz now lives a more private life in her Malibu ranch with her son.
All beautiful and empowered, these supermodels just proved that there’s an enduring power in beauty. Which of the 80s and 90s supermodels were your #supermodelcrush of all time?