Best Supermodels Of The 1950s: Top 5 Runway Stars, According To Fashion Experts

We are well aware of top models from today to the 2000s, to even the 1980s, but we can’t disregard icons who paved the way for popular names you may have grown up with. Each decade has its idols, and the 1950s are no exception. The women of this era looked up to these top models and followed them for their style. Who are these legends? Only the best supermodels of the 1950s.

There are so many iconic supermodels, from the 1940s to now. Boy, have we come a long way. Supermodel Eva Herzigová has broken new ground by creating a “world-first” digital double, allowing her to spend more time with her children. Famous for her role as the original Wonderbra model, Herzigová joined forces with tech experts to develop a lifelike, real-time 3D digital human. Though several fictional models have been produced in the past, developers maintain that Eva is the first real-life supermodel to make her debut as a hyper-real 3D avatar.

The Czech-born model likened the process of creating the so-called “MetaHuman” to giving birth. “The process of giving birth to my MetaHuman (digital human) has been incredible; it genuinely feels like a mother-like experience: creating every aspect of me, as me,” the model says in a statement. Herzigová collaborated with virtual production studio Dimension and talent agency Unsigned, co-owned by Coldplay bassist Guy Berryman, on this groundbreaking project. The 50-year-old supermodel was scanned with a 70-camera rig, which generated data that a team of character artists used to accurately recreate her as a 3D MetaHuman. “My MetaHuman gets to go off to work, to be photographed and styled by the most incredible creative minds. Today, I can be in London, Paris, Milan, and New York, all whilst at home cooking dinner with my children,” Herzigová explains.

As impressive as that is, could a supermodel “double” be scrutinized like some mannequins are? Real-life supermodels are often scrutinized for the unrealistic and potentially dangerous examples they set for women, but now a new study finds that mannequins also portray “emaciated” versions of the female body. “We became interested in this topic after seeing some news report about members of the general public noticing that some mannequins in fashion stores were disturbingly thin,” lead researcher Dr. Eric Robinson says of the first-of-its-kind study in a university news release. The researchers found that all 32 female dummies were underweight and that the average “body size of female mannequins represented that of extremely underweight human women,” says Robinson. Conversely, just 8 percent of the male dummies were representative of an underweight man.

If you are from this era, these names will probably not come as a surprise. If you are clueless about who the fashion icons of the ’50s were, StudyFinds is happy to introduce what 10 expert sites have said to be the list of the best supermodels of the 1950s. Did we miss a looker that you are a fan of? Let us know in the comments below!

Evelyn Tripp, Dovima & Suzy Parker 1952
Evelyn Tripp, Dovima & Suzy Parker 1952 (“Evelyn Tripp, Dovima & Suzy Parker 1952” by myvintagevogue is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.)

The List: Best Supermodels of the 1950s, According to Experts

1. Suzy Parker

Suzy Parker was one of the first models to achieve celebrity status, appearing on the cover of Time magazine in 1957. “Suzy signed a contract with Revlon as the first face of the brand. Parker’s stunning looks and natural elegance made her a favorite of many prominent fashion photographers, including Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, and Milton Greene. She worked with some of the biggest names in fashion at the time, such as Coco Chanel and Christian Dior, and was known for her ability to bring life and personality to the clothing she wore,” says BYGONELY.

Freckly and red-haired with an hourglass figure, Suzie is the sister of another iconic runway star of the 1950s, Dorian. “A favorite muse of photographer Richard Avedon, her sister Dorian was a famous model, dubbed the ‘world’s first supermodel’. That was before the world met Suzy. She went on to eclipse her sis, becoming the first model to earn $100,000 per year and the only one to have an (unreleased) Beatles song named after her,” offers Marie Claire UK.

Parker’s success in modeling led to a career in Hollywood, where she starred in several films, including “Funny Face” with Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn. “Suzy Parker was by far the most famous model of the 1950s. Not only did she land the most coveted covers and campaigns, but The Beatles also named a song after her. Meanwhile, she was making over 100,000 dollars a year – an astronomical sum in those days,” writes SAVOIR Flair.

2. Dovima

Dovima was born Dorothy Virginia Margaret Juba. She was a highly successful American model during the 1950s who began her modeling career in the late 1940s. “Dovima gained widespread recognition during the 1950s as one of the most popular and sought-after models of the time. Dovima’s striking looks and impeccable sense of style made her a favorite of many notable photographers, including Richard Avedon and Irving Penn. She is perhaps best known for her iconic images in a Christian Dior dress with elephants taken by Avedon at the Cirque d’Hiver in Paris, which became one of the most celebrated fashion photographs of all time,” shares BYGONELY

Dovima was born in NYC and was discovered on a sidewalk by an editor at Vogue, and had a photo shoot with Irving Penn the following day. “She was signed by Ford Modeling Agency and soon went on to become one of the highest-paying models of her time. Eventually, she also became a 50s fashion icon,” says didyouknowfashion.com.

Dovima’s modeling career continued into the 1960s, but she eventually retired from the industry to focus on raising her children. “Dovoma worked closely with Richard Avedon, whose photograph of her in a floor-length black evening gown with circus elephants — Dovima with the Elephants — taken at the Cirque d’hiver, Paris, in August 1955, has become an icon and sold for $1,151,976 in 2010. The gown was the first evening dress designed for Christian Dior by his new assistant, Yves Saint-Laurent. Dovima was reputed to be the highest-paid model of her time. She had a role as the aristocratic-looking, but empty-headed, fashion model Marion in the film Funny Face in 1957,” shares The Vintage News.

3. Carmen Dell’Orefice

Carmen was another American model who began her career in the 1940s but rose to fame during the 1950s. She is a living legend at the age of 92, though still lively and full of charm and elegance. “Carmen was known for her striking features, including her high cheekbones and dramatic eyebrows, as well as her ability to exude a sense of sophistication and glamour. Despite facing many challenges throughout her career, including personal struggles and changes in the modeling industry, Dell’Orefice persevered and continued to work as a model into her 80s,” shares BYGONELY

 Model Carmen Dell Orefice walks the runway for collection by Adrienne Vittadini at Mercedes-Benz Fall/Winter 2011 Fashion Week
Model Carmen Dell Orefice walks the runway for collection by Adrienne Vittadini at Mercedes-Benz Fall/Winter 2011 Fashion Week (Photo by lev radin on Shutterstock)

Dell’Orefice also dabbled in acting, appearing in films such as “The Curse of the Jade Scorpion” and “The Tempest.” “Carmen Dell’Orefice has enjoyed a modeling career since the 1950s and is still modeling today. She is known for being the world’s oldest fashion model,” states We Heart Vintage.

Carmen worked with many top photographers, including Richard Avedon and Irving Penn. She appeared on the covers of numerous magazines, such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. “The ravishing beauty of Carmen Dell’Orefice has not faded even today…Her legendary career spans seven decades, beginning in 1946 when she booked her first major magazine cover,” mentions SAVOIR Flair.

4. Jean Patchett

Jean Patchett was an American model who became one of the most recognizable faces of the 1950s. Known for her distinctive look, Jean had high cheekbones, a short hairstyle, and a strikingly symmetrical face. “Patchett worked with many of the top photographers of the time, including Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, and Norman Parkinson. She appeared on the covers of numerous magazines, such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Life. She became a favorite of designer Hubert de Givenchy, who considered her his muse,” explains BYGONELY.

Although she retired from modeling in the 1960s, Jean Patchett’s impact on fashion and modeling during the 1950s continues today. “Famous for her beauty spot next to her right eye and her aloof reputation, Jean Patchett was also one of the famous 50s supermodels. After she signed with Ford Model Agency in 1948, her career skyrocketed almost immediately. She covered for Vogue magazine that same year when she was 22, and from there she became a household name,” states didyouknowfashion.com.

Patchett was also a trailblazer in the modeling industry, negotiating higher fees for models and insisting on more rights and protections for their work. “Although Jean Patchett was American, she was very popular in the French couture circuit and worked with Coco Chanel, Jacques Fath, and Christian Dior,” shares SAVOIR Flair.

5. Mary Jane Russell

At 5’6, Mary Jane Russell was shorter than her peers at Ford Models. Despite her height, she still suited the fashions of the time and rose to tremendous popularity. “Not to be confused with the American actress Jane Russell, American model Mary Jane Russell reached the peak of her modeling career through the 50s and the 60s. She appeared on many magazine covers such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. She was a favorite of photographers Louise Dahl-Wolfe and Irving Penn,” explains didyouknowfashion.com.

Mary Jane’s long neck and classic features are perfectly suited to the fashions of the period. “Mary Jane became a favorite model of the photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe, to the extent that when an unwritten rule was encountered where model and photographer could not work together a third time, Dahl-Wolfe unsuccessfully hunted for a suitable replacement. Eventually, Carmel Snow, the editor of Harper’s Bazaar, intervened and personally asked Russell to work with Dahl-Wolfe a third time,” says The Vintage News.

Two of Irving Penn’s better-known images of Mary Jane were “Girl Drinking,” published in “Vogue” in 1949, and the 1951 photograph “Girl with Tobacco on Tongue.” “Mary Jane Russell was an American model who worked throughout the 50s and 60s. She was featured on many Vogue and Harpers Bazaar covers and was often photographed by Louise Dahl-Wolfe and Irving Penn,” shares We Heart Vintage.

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

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