These days when someone says supermodel, you probably think of young beauties like Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner, or even Instagram stars like Alexis Ren. But before this new crop of models, there were the original supermodels — those who walked the high fashion runways and graced magazine cover, after magazine cover. Not many models become household names, and even less have careers that span decades. But these women defied the odds. Here’s what the original supermodels look like today.
Models come and go, but if there’s one supermodel who has made a name for herself across generations, it’s Crawford. Beginning with her breakout Vogue cover in 1986, Crawford has done it all in her decades-long career, and it doesn’t look like she’s slowing down anytime soon. These days, she owns a skincare line and serves as a mentor for her two children, who’ve taken on the world of modeling themselves. “It’s been really fun for me to see my kids get their feet wet in the fabulous world of fashion,” Crawford shared with Vanity Fair in 2017.
Evangelista revealed to Interview that her agents told her when she first started modeling in the ’80s to expect a career span of three years. Instead, she became one of the most well-known, sought after models in history, to the point that she famously claimed she wouldn’t “get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day.” Her work includes print and runway, and she even appeared in a couple George Michael music videos. Today, she’s a working mother, finding time to serve as the vice president, creative director, and spokesperson for topical wrinkle-erasing concentrate, Erasa.
First discovered in her teen years, Turlington went on to work with huge names like Vogue, Calvin Klein, and Maybelline. Despite her success, she left the modeling world in 1994 to pursue her education.She told Interview that she felt exploited during her modeling career, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been busy!
In 2003, she married actor Edward Burns, with whom she has two kids. She also started Every Mother Counts, a nonprofit that provides maternal health to women across the world. Most recently, she’s gotten back into modeling, starring in a Calvin Klein fragrance campaign with her husband, and gracing the cover of Vogue Paris in April 2017.
While you may recognize Campbell best from that infamous 2006 cell phone throwing incident, she first made a name for herself on the runways, in music videos, and even as the first black cover model for Vogue — but it wasn’t always easy.
“When I started out, I wasn’t being booked for certain shows because of the colour of my skin,” she wrote in the Guardian. Her career has never really slowed down. She’s since served as the executive producer for the reality show The Face, made guest appearances in shows like American Horror Story and Empire, and even interviewed Vladimir Putin.
In 1994, Wonderbra featured Herzigova in an ad that’s since been called “the most iconic…of all time.” She went on to model for huge names like Victoria’s Secret and Sports Illustrated, and walked the runways for Prada and Louis Vuitton.
Most recently, she nabbed a Dior campaign and has even dabbled in philanthropy, partnering with DKMS in 2010 to “create a worldwide DNA database to help find matches for bone marrow transplants.” In 2017, Herzigova got engaged to Gregorio Marsiaj, who is the father of her three kids.
Christensen’s breakout moment is undoubtedly her sultry appearance in Chris Isaak’s 1989 “Wicked Game” music video. From there, she went on to model for CoverGirl and Victoria’s Secret. Though she walked the runway alongside the best of the best, photographer Max Vadukul claims Christensen was different. “She doesn’t like to be in the limelight all the time,” he told The Guardian, who reports that Christensen retired at 31.
She’s since had a son with The Walking Dead actor Norman Reedus and co-founded NYLON magazine. But she hasn’t given up on the fashion world completely — she’s found happiness working as a photographer. “I don’t ever once talk about stopping for lunch as a photographer,” she told My Domaine in 2015. “But as a model I want to stop for lunch like an hour into the shoot.”
Yasmin Le Bon
Signed to Agency Models at age 18, Le Bon quickly became the “highest paid model in the world.” Just a few years later at age 21, she married Duran Duran frontman Simon Le Bon and was destined to spend most of her life in the spotlight. It wasn’t always easy, though. In 2015, she revealed to Red that she’s a “melancholy person,” and has dealt with depression throughout her life.
However, she hasn’t let it hold her back. Today, she continues modeling (Daily Mail reported in 2016 that she modeled for Giorgio Armani) and cheers on her three daughters, two of whom have entered the fashion industry themselves.
Discovered at age 17 and chosen by Karl Lagerfeld himself to be a Chanel model, Schiffer has worked with some of the greatest in the fashion world (like Richard Avedon, Gianni Versace, and Mario Testino, just to name a few).
But in 1996, Schiffer was shocked to learn Lagerfeld no longer wanted her as the face of Chanel. Luckily, that didn’t slow her down. She continued modeling and even dabbled in some acting, appearing in films like Zoolander and Love Actually. In 2002, she married director Matthew Vaughn with whom she has three kids.
Sure, most models have bodies the rest of us would kill for. But Macpherson’s was so fabulous that in 1989 TIME literally nicknamed her “The Body,” thanks in large part to her record five Sports Illustrated covers. Macpherson’s proven that her brain is just as lucrative as her famed body, leveraging her nickname into a successful brand. Today, she owns two Australia-based businesses: a lingerie collection and a wellness line.
An original Victoria’s Secret model, Vogue cover girl, and former girlfriend of Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose (a relationship she told Harper’s Bazaar was “clearly a mistake”), Seymour is no stranger to the spotlight. She made waves again in 2016 when she was arrested for driving under the influence. Later that year, she went after today’s popular models, like Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner, saying that they weren’t supermodels, but rather, “bitches of the moment.”
Vogue / Getty Images
First discovered at the age of 17, Patitz quickly made a name for herself in the modeling world. But even though she was one of the highly sought-after original five supermodels photographed for British Vogue in the early 90s, her name isn’t as recognizable as the other models who shared that cover — in part because she didn’t always feel like she belonged in that world.
“I always thought that wasn’t who I was; it was what I did,” she told the Guardian in 2009. However, it seems things have changed as of late. In 2017, she’s graced the covers and pages of multiple high-fashion magazines and is in the midst of a beauty contract with L’Oreal.
Cosmopolitan / Getty Images
Some might argue with Dickinson’s legacy as a supermodel, but she claimed in 2006 that she was the first to coin the term “supermodel” so for that, she earns a place on this list. Dickinson has had a life full of ups and downs. Though she spent some time struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, Dickinson eventually recovered.
Many people today recognize her as an outspoken America’s Next Top Model judge or Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew cast member. In 2016, Dickinson revealed she was diagnosed with breast cancer. “It’s still quite shocking,” she told Daily Mail. “But I am not gonna let that define me, the fear.”
A second chapter
The modeling world has seen a resurgence of the original supermodels. Whether they’re walking the runways again, or acting as the face of cosmetics brands, they’ve proven that age is nothing but a number when it comes to beauty. “There’s pressure on women to do the undoable, which is not age,” Crawford told New Beauty in 2016. “But it’s about looking great for however old you are, regardless of what that number is.”