Before Kendell Jenner and Gigi Hadid, we had models like Kate Moss and Cindy Crawford dominating the runway. The 1990s were a decade of fashion evolution, with a mix of bold, grunge, and minimalistic styles. Some of the iconic looks that graced the runways included chunky platform shoes, velour tracksuits, and denim on denim, to name a few. Many of the big names of the era were powerhouses, but there were five that kept their place on top as the best supermodels of the 1990s.
Although more fashion labels have attempted to be increasingly inclusive of models of all shapes and sizes in the past decade or so, Victoria’s Secret fashion models just keep getting smaller and skinnier. The average lingerie model has seen her bust, waist, hips, and dress size all decrease over the past two decades, although the average waist-to-hip (WHR) ratio of Victoria’s Secret models hasn’t changed. Seeing this still makes women feel more insecure about their bodies, particularly their mid-sections, after viewing photos of bikini or fashion models.
For the study, 1,426 women were asked to assess how they felt immediately after viewing a series of images showing either bikini or fashion models, paintings, or products. Nearly six in 10 women reported feeling worse about their bodies to some degree and about half said they felt less inclined to wear swimsuits in public after seeing images of the models. Researchers believe it is no coincidence that over the same period of time, more and more American women are opting for cosmetic surgery. Since 2000, buttock lift procedures have increased by 4,295 percent and lower body lifts have increased 256 percent.
These are very real statistics and as much as we look up to these fashion icons, it’s important to remember to accept that all bodies are different and self-help is vital in keeping a healthy mindset. There are more supermodels that we could’ve squeezed into this top five, but from research, StudyFinds turned to ten expert opinions to find these best supermodels of the 1990s. Tell us in the comments below which supermodels you used to see flipping through Glamour Magazine.
The List: Best Supermodels of the 1990s, According to Expert Reviews
1. Linda Evangelista
Both beauty and brains, Linda Evangelista was named the “Face of the 20th Century” by the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Besides walking runways and gracing magazine covers, that’s quite the honor. “A fixture among ’90s supermodels, the Canadian hair chameleon famously once said, ‘[I] don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day.’ During the height of her three-decade career, Linda Evangelista was the ultimate cover girl, gracing over 800 titles and becoming a muse to famous fashion photographer Steven Meisel,” writes Stylight.
Known as the chameleon of the modeling industry, Evangelista has pulled off virtually every haircut, color, and beauty look under the sun. After moving to New York from her hometown of St. Catharines, Ontario, in 1984, she slowly worked her way up the ladder to superstardom, eventually posing for more than 700 magazine covers and playing muse to luminaries such as Steven Meisel, Karl Lagerfeld, and Gianni Versace,” adds Who What Wear.
Sadly these days, Linda is recovering from a botched cosmetic procedure. The Things fills us in: “Canadian supermodel Linda Evangelista was fairly active in the fashion industry up until a couple of years ago. In 2021, the supermodel underwent a fat removal procedure that went wrong. Here’s what the star revealed: To my followers who have wondered why I have not been working while my peers’ careers have been thriving, the reason is that I was brutally disfigured by Zeltiq’s CoolSculpting procedure which did the opposite of what it promised. It increased, not decreased, my fat cells and left me permanently deformed even after undergoing two painful, unsuccessful, corrective surgeries.”
2. Christy Turlington
Another model you have definitely heard of if you are a millennial, and most likely have heard of, if not. “Discovered as a young teenager, Turlington has appeared on over 500 magazine covers and represented Calvin Klein for two decades. Since her time on the catwalk, the green-eyed beauty has dedicated herself to several philanthropic groups and studied Eastern philosophy. She married actor Edward Burns in 2003, and the couple has two children,” says Today.
Christy was known as one of the “powerhouse trios” in the 1990s, alongside Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell. “Christy possesses one of the most recognizable faces in the world – her perfect features making her the go-to 90s supermodel in the beauty world. Equally, she dominated the catwalk, walking for the likes of Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Prada, Valentino, Versace, and Louis Vuitton. If her modeling efforts weren’t impressive enough, Turlington also graduated cum laude from NYU’s Gallatin School of Independent Studies, and now focuses her efforts on Every Mother Counts, an organization that, ‘makes pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother, everywhere,” notes RUSSH.
Christy was given quite the compliment from famed casting director James Scully. He declared Christy Turlington as “the greatest model of all time,” and that “you could combine every model to this day into one person, and they wouldn’t come close.” “During her career, Christy has been on over 500 magazine covers and walked for iconic fashion houses like Chanel, Versace, Yves Saint Laurent, Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Marc Jacobs. The American model was notorious for her street style and airport outfits. Her signature style was laid-back and tomboyish, consisting largely of Levi’s jeans, oversized outerwear, and minimalist basic tees,” points out Zeitgeist.
“Christy Turlington signed a record-breaking seven-figure contract to be the face of Calvin Klein when she was only 20 years old. With a reputation as one of the nicest models in the industry, Christy Turlington turned her superlative modeling career towards public health and education, earning a master’s degree in public health from Columbia University in 2009 and founding the nonprofit ‘Every Mother Counts’ the following year,” says Stylight.
3. Claudia Schiffer
Claudia Schiffer was discovered in a nightclub in Düsseldorf, Germany. As you can see, how could you miss her? Harpers Bazaar boasts, “with her luscious blonde locks, smoky eyes, and plump pout—was touted as the second coming of Brigitte Bardot. Karl Lagerfeld was a fan, taking her under his wing and making her the face of Chanel—a distinction she received with other labels, including Guess. She would garner cover after cover, currently holding the record in the Guinness Book of World Records. And along with aforementioned models, Schiffer was a member of the Big Five.”
Claudia’s footprints to fame are so perfect, that Marie Claire tells the same story. “In 1987, 17-year-old Claudia Schiffer’s life changed forever when she met a model scout at a Dusseldorf disco who convinced her to move to Paris. She found instant success in the City of Lights and was chosen by Karl Lagerfeld to become the face of Chanel. Since then, she’s appeared on the cover of over 500 magazines and continues to star in campaigns for Chanel, YSL, Dolce & Gabbana, and more.”
After years of extreme success, Claudia now lives a quiet life in the English countryside. “Claudia hasn’t been much in the spotlight in the past decade. The famous supermodel lives in the countryside in Oxfordshire with her family, where she tries to lead a normal life,” backs up The Things.
4. Naomi Campbell
Naomi Campbell made history as the first black model to grace the cover of American and French Vogue. “Naomi Campbell made her catwalk debut for Chanel during Paris Fashion Week in 1986. As one of the original ‘Big Five’, the British-born model was declared ‘the reigning mega model of them all’ by Interview magazine in 1990,” says Stylight.
Even at 48, Naomi was appearing in the Pirelli calendar and continuing to slay the runway. “Back in the ’90s, Naomi was a ubiquitous presence in the top fashion magazines and the catwalks of Milan, New York, and Paris. Even when she took a tumble in Vivienne Westwood’s sky-high platforms in 1993, the photos of her laughing as she picked herself up quickly became legendary,” mentions Who What Wear
Campbell was discovered while studying at the Italia Conti Stage School and the rest is runway history. “The first black model to appear on the cover of British Vogue in 1966, Claudia went on to walk the biggest runway shows of the ‘90s, including Versace and Isaac Mizrahi. In 1990 she appeared on an iconic British Vogue cover with fellow supermodels Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, and Cindy Crawford, with whom she later walked arm-in-arm in a 1991 Versace show,” adds Today.
5. Cindy Crawford
Cindy had her eye on the prize and immediately moved to New York City after graduating high school. “Cindy began to dominate the glossy covers of magazines after signing with the prestigious modeling agency, Elite. Part supermodel, part-cultural icon, a count in 1998 determined that Crawford had graced the covers of over 500 magazines – and still continues. Walking for Chanel, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Christian Dior, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Todd Oldham, DKNY, and Valentino over the years, her daughter, Kaia Gerber is now following in her mother’s footsteps as one of the most sought after models in the industry,” says RUSSH.
Zeitgeist references the elephant in the room, Cindy’s beauty mark. “Thanks to her distinct beauty mark and undeniable sex appeal, Cindy Crawford was one of the biggest supermodels of the 90s. She was considered part of the ‘Big Six’ squad of 90s supermodels and co-hosted House of Style on MTV. Throughout her career, she’s been featured on over 500 magazine covers and walked the runways for top designers like Chanel, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, DKNY, Christian Dior, Valentino, and countless more.”
More than most, Crawford’s fame in the 1990s superseded the industry. She was, and still is a cultural icon. “Cindy starred in not just myriad fashion campaigns, but also in Pepsi commercials. Her appearance on the small screen, too, extended to hosting House of Style on MTV. With her distinct beauty mark, her face was plastered on billboards and advertisements. And now, her daughter, Kaia Gerber, is following in her famous footsteps,” writes Harpers Bazaar.
You might also be interested in the following:
- Best Supermodels of All Time
- Best Fashion Designers of All Time
- Best Women’s Jeans
- Best Designer Shoe Brands for Women
- The Things
- Who What Wear
- Harpers Bazaar
- Marie Claire
- Celebrity Nine
- She Knows
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.