While we now have Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner, the Supermodels (with a capital “S”) of the 1990s were a breed of their own. They dominated the runways, glossy magazine pages, and newspaper headlines – in short, they became household names.
The 1990s brought us the group of elite supermodels known as “The Big Six” — Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer and Christy Turlington. They became celebrities in their own right, and most of them tried their hand in other ventures, apart from modeling.
More than a couple of decades later, these 1990s Supermodels continue to stun and captivate us, even as they grow older and have their own families. Some of their children follow their parents’ footsteps and are now having bourgeoning modeling careers of their own.
These 1990s Supermodels are still influential. Many of the famous models today credit much of their careers and their celebrity to these fashion legends.
Check out the following women who dominated the 1990s modeling world:
1. Kate Moss
With her tomboyish looks and waifish, emaciated-looking figure, English supermodel Kate Moss represented the “anti-model” mold. She was a complete contrast to the healthy-looking and full-figured models who preceded her. Indeed, Moss spearheaded the “heroin chic” fashion trend that pervaded during the 1990s.
Moss was spotted at age 14 at JFK Airport in New York by Sarah Doukas, the founder of Storm modeling agency. From there, her modeling career took off. Her most famous campaign was her controversial Calvin Klein underwear ads, which she starred in when she was only 18. Her party-going lifestyle and high-profile relationships received much media scrutiny, which only heightened her reputation.
2. Linda Evangelista
Hailed as the chameleon of the modeling industry, Linda Evangelista went through the 1990s by changing every hairstyle and hair color effortlessly, and attracting headlines for doing so. From a black pixie to a red-headed bob to a blonde coif, Evangelista’s changing looks year after year caught the attention of many designers.
The Canadian supermodel graced for over 700 magazine covers and became the muse to several legendary designers and photographers, such as Steven Meisel, Karl Lagerfeld, and Gianni Versace. But unlike her contemporaries, Evangelista chose not to diversify into ventures outside of modeling.
3. Naomi Campbell
Naomi Campbell was discovered at age 15 while she was studying ballet in London. Her ebony skin, statuesque figure, prominent cheekbones, and alluring almond-shaped eyes stood out among a bevy of other beauties. A member of the legendary “The Big Six” group of models, the English supermodel became a ubiquitous presence on the catwalks and in the top fashion magazines in Paris, New York and Milan.
Even at 50 years old, Campbell is still slaying the runway on the regular and appearing on various campaigns. One of her latest projects is starring the relaunch ad campaign of streetwear ad Hood by Air.
4. Christy Turlington
Another model who ruled the 1990s runways and fashion magazine spreads is Christy Turlington. The American beauty was only 14 when she was discovered by a local photographer while she was horseback riding in Miami, Florida. And the rest is history! Despite her blossoming modeling career, she continued her studies, pursuing degrees in comparative religion and Eastern philosophy and graduating cum laude at New York University’s Gallatin School of Independent Studies. Before she was one of “The Big Six,” she, along with Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista, was part of the supermodel “Holy Trinity.”
The Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) declared Turlington as the “Face of the 20th Century”. And for a good reason – she has led campaigns for Maybelline, Calvin Klein, Armani, and many more.
5. Cindy Crawford
Cindy Crawford actually started her modeling career back in the mid-1980s and already became a household name. However, it was her iconic cover in the British Vogue magazine that transitioned her to “Supermodel” fame in the 1990s. An appearance with her then-husband Richard Gere at the 1991 Oscars with her stunning red Versace gown and her iconic Pepsi commercial further cemented her “Supermodel” status.
The American stunner, known for her famous “beauty mark” (a mole above her upper lip), spread her fame by entering into other ventures, including hosting House of Style on MTV. Nowadays, though, she seems to be passing her style to her daughter Kaia Gerber, who is a rising supermodel herself.
6. Claudia Schiffer
With her blonde hair, blue eyes, lithe 5’11 frame, and plump pout, Claudia Schiffer was likened to French star Brigitte Bardot during her early modeling career. However, this German beauty was set to make her own name.
Several fashion designers and commercial brands alike sought her beauty and statuesque figure to lead their own ad campaigns. In the 1990s, Schiffer became the face of Guess and Chanel, for which she became its longtime muse. She has also modeled for other fashion brands, such as YSL and Dolce and Gabbana. Since the start of her modeling career, Schiffer has fronted more than 500 magazines.
7. Tyra Banks
Nowadays, Tyra Banks may be better recognized as a media mogul, hosting and producing several television programs such as The Tyra Banks Show and America’s Top Model. But of course, who could forget her famous stint as a model?
She experienced struggles in her early modeling career before conquering her first runway season in Paris. After that, Banks booked editorial shoots in almost all the top fashion magazines and signed lucrative contracts with Victoria’s Secret and Cover Girl. She also made history as the first black model to pose on the front cover of Sports Illustrated. From modeling to acting to producing her own films and TV shows, it seems it’s nowhere else to go but up for Tyra Banks’s career.
8. Heidi Klum
Heidi Klum is a German-American beauty who started her modeling career in the early 1990s. Since then, she has appeared in diverse campaigns, including Marc Jacobs, Victoria’s Secret, H&M (where she also became a spokeswoman) and McDonald’s.
Like Tyra Banks, Klum also parlayed her supermodel and celebrity status into other media ventures. She has acted as one of the judges for America’s Got Talent, Project Runway, and Making the Cut, the last where she is also the executive producer. She also launched her own lingerie line. As if these things are not enough, Klum is also a talented artist whose paintings have been featured in various art magazines.