Wednesday 29 March 2017

Perfect 10: The most super supermodels of all time

They're the faces that shift a million beauty products and the bodies that sell us everything from cars to lingerie. but to be a true Super, you have to be as savvy as you are stunning. Corina Gaffey picks her top 10

Cindy Crawford
Gisele Bundchen
Paulina Porizkova
Linda Evangelista
Cara at the 2013 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show
Kate Moss
Naomi Campbel
Janice Dickinson
David Gandy
Hoyt Richards
Jamie Dornan
Marcus Schenkenberg

Corina Gaffey

It's not easy being beautiful – well, unless you're one of the models on our list that have made it in one of the most competitive industries and made a mint while they're at it. But what makes a supermodel? Out of all the gorgeous women signed to agencies across the world, why is it that only a handful will evolve into a true "super", turning making a living into making a fortune?

There are, of course, common characteristics – perfectly structured, statuesque bodies, for a start. Beauty always helps, but it can only get you so far. Not content with just ruling the catwalk, models have to take their off-the-runway careers just as serious to really make it as one of the chosen few. The big names are far more than just a pretty face – they must have the power to capture the world's attention outside the limited fashion industry – super-brands as well as supermodels.

These days, supermodels are selfie pros (hello Cara), and have more fans than many of Hollywood's biggest celebs. At the annual Metropolitan Museum Of Art's Costume Institute Gala in May, top supermodels drew just as much attention as the Hollywood A-listers. No better time, then, to count down the women who made being gorgeous big business.

Paulina Porizkova

If there was a face to define the 1980s, it's Paulina's. Breaking records in the modelling world, at 19 she became the youngest model and first Eastern European to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated. By 1988, she was the highest paid supermodel in the world cinching a deal with beauty giant Estee Lauder at $6m per year. The Lauder contract transformed her from model to household name and she remained the company's face until 1995. Her supermodel status spanned decades, featuring on all the major magazine covers including Vogue, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, Glamour and Cosmopolitan. Author and actress, and former America's Next Top Model judge, she's still in demand today.  

Daria Webowy

Achingly cool in a grunge-meets-boho kind of way, Daria is the supermodel you don't know you know. She may not be a household name but she's definitely a household face. After a rocky start, she caught the attention of fashion photographer Steven Meisel and landed a Prada campaign in 2003. Since then she's been everybody's girl, from Gucci, to Chanel, Lancome, to Celine and Balenciaga, and holds the record for opening and closing the most catwalk shows in one season. We've a soft spot for her as she hung out at Electric Picnic last year, and has made west Cork her home, so was the obvious choice of model when Vogue came to shoot in Co Kerry for the 2013 September issue. In 2011, Forbes named her one of the top-earning models in the world.


Janice Dickinson

There was a time in the 1980s when you couldn't walk by a newsstand without seeing Janice Dickinson's face. Now, the self-proclaimed "world's first supermodel" might best be known for her wit and her brutally honest critiques on many a reality show. Struggling to make it in the 1970s, where the blonde bombshell was de rigueur, Janice was considered too exotic and was turned down by several agencies. It wasn't until photographer Jacques Silbersten took a shine to her that she got her big break. Possessing the kind of name and face recognition that the majority of the models at the time were striving to achieve, Janice landed the cover of Vogue 37 times and the cover of Elle seven times in a row and was the face of advertising campaigns for Revlon, Dior, Clairol and Max Factor.


Linda Evangelista

She maybe one of the original supermodels of the late 1980s and early 1990s, yet Linda Evangelista is as much a household name today as she was back then. Revered as the chameleon of fashion because of her noteworthy hairstyle changes and the way she transforms in front of the camera, she was also famed for her determination, striking looks and her feather-ruffling catchphrases like the infamous "we don't wake up for less than $10,000 a day" in the peak of the supermodel era. Staying true to Moschino's 90s roots, creative director Jeremy Scott has enlisted Linda to star in the brands 2014 autumn campaign, proving her supermodel power is still shining bright.


Naomi Campbell

As legendary for her modelling career as her bad girl behaviour, Naomi Campbell certainly puts the super into supermodel. With her strong personality, banging body and larger-than-life antics, it's no wonder her career has spawned over 30 years. Breaking racial barriers as the first black model on the covers of French and British Vogue, she joined the clique of the supermodels in the 90s and has dominated magazines and runways ever since. Often referred to as the queen of the catwalk, when Naomi sashays down the runway with her cat-like prowl it proves why she's worthy of the title. Now she's taking over TV with her hit model show, The Face, which is broadcast across the world in the UK, USA and Australia.


Cara Delevingne

Editors want her on their pages, designers want her on the runways, businesses want her in their commercials, and people pay her millions of euro to do just that. It's not bad being Cara, with her trademark bushy eyebrows and goofy nature, Cara has captured the imagination of the world beyond fashion. With close to a million Twitter followers and a life that's played out in the tabloids, she's become the most famous new face in fashion. In an age of flawless models, Delevingne is a rough and tumble breath of fresh air and brands like Burberry, Mulberry and YSL are clambering over each other to get a little bit of the sparkle.


Kate Moss

Imagine: one day you're a gangly 14-year-old girl on holidays with your family. The next, your face is splashed across The Face magazine – that's what happened to Kate Moss. Not fitting the mould of supers who came before her at only 5ft6, the wafer thin Ms Moss defined the heroin-chic look and spawned the renaissance of 90s grunge. Since then she has graced many a runway, appeared in countless editorials, and became a style icon, all with an attitude and mystery which has kept the multi-faceted model at the top of her game. She may have just turned 40, but it isn't affecting her brand with a brand new collection at Topshop and campaigns for Rimmel, St.Tropez and Alexander McQueen to name but a few.


Gisele Bundchen

Success as a model obviously requires flawless genes and hard work but business sense is integral to making it to the top. As one of the most powerful and highest-paid supermodels, Gisele has it in spades. Her biggest source of income isn't her modelling work but actually her lucrative merchandising partnerships, including a lingerie line, accessory and shoe collection. Whatever Gisele touches turns to gold. But she can still bring in the money in the modelling world too – this year she replaced Beyonce as the face of H&M, took over David Yurman from Kate Moss and landed the Chanel beauty campaign. There's no wonder she's dubbed the world's most sought-after supermodel. She started out as the "Boobs from Brazil" and has channeled that into global success and enviable longevity.


Cindy Crawford

As one of the original Big Six supermodels of the 1990s, her distinctive beauty mark, big hair and sultriness made Cindy stand out. At a time when heroin-chic was en Vogue, Crawford's gorgeous curves landed lucrative deals with Revlon and Pepsi that made her a household name, and she became one of the most commercially successful models. However, that didn't mean high fashion houses weren't interested – she straddled both worlds, walking the runways for the likes of Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel and Versace. Today she's steady at the helm of a self-made empire with a furniture collection with Rooms to Go.



Who could have thought a haircut could jumpstart a career? Lesley Hornby learned that having a strong look that sets you apart is vital to success as a super. When she got her hair cut in to a tight gamine crop, she became Twiggy, and her career skyrocketed. Coupled with her Bambi like eyes and long limbs, it led to her being heralded the face of '66.

The prediction certainly proved true, and within that year she came out with her first line of branded clothes, a pop single and a Twiggy Barbie.

Managing to stay relevant and productive up to now, she's had a career in music, television, activism and modelling that has continued for more than four decades.


Let's hear it for the boys ...

Because not all supers are women

1. David Gandy

2. Tyson Beckford

3. Hoyt Richards

4. Jamie Dornan

5. Marcus Schenkenberg

First published in INSIDER Magazine, exclusive to Thursday's Irish Independent

Promoted articles

Also in this section