If you’re a fan of the fashion industry and celebrate the beautiful, enigmatic figures we call “supermodels,” you’ll no doubt have your favorite names. However, when it comes to choosing the best supermodels of all time, where do you start?
Becoming a successful fashion model takes a lot of hard work, as you can’t just get by on your looks these days. It takes gumption, attitude, and a style all your own to land big contracts, launch clothing, makeup, or perfume campaigns, and gain the coveted label of “supermodel.” Some models even strive to achieve unhealthy beauty standards. In fact, a study reveals how four in five models today are underweight and use risky methods to get that way.
And while there will always be debate about the role supermodels play in our broader society, as one study shows seeing models makes some women feel insecure about their bodies, there’s no doubt that they’re here to stay. While beauty standards, and fashion trends in general, will change as the years go on, there will surely be famous models who will come to define each era.
With so many beautiful women trying their hand at modeling over the years, it’s a big ask to come up with a short list of the greats. StudyFinds was up to the task, as we went to 10 expert sites to come up with a list of the best supermodels of all time. Tell us who you think are the most iconic legends to ever strut down a catwalk in the comments below.
The List: Best Supermodels of All Time, Per Fashion Experts
1. Cindy Crawford
Rising to fame in the ’80s and ’90s, she’s perhaps the best supermodel of all time. With an unforgettable, iconic look and one of the most successful careers in the industry, she’ll be hard to beat for the foreseeable future.
“What do you get if you combine extreme beauty, a world-famous mole, and a razor-sharp business mind? … As one of the original late 1980s/ early 1990s supermodels, Crawford has graced the cover of almost every fashion magazine worth its salt, as well as walking the catwalk at every major fashion event in the world,” writes Money Inc.
“As one of the original Big Six supermodels of the 1990s, her distinctive beauty mark, big hair and sultriness made Cindy stand out,” states Independent. “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.”
“Big hair, strong brows, athletic body. Hang on, have we forgotten something? Oh yes. The most famous mole OF ALL TIME,” writes Money Inc. “Brains and business acumen. She nearly ended up as a chemical engineer and invented the celebrity workout video with her famous ‘Cindy Crawford: Shape Your Body’ exercise series, raking in a fortune in the process.”
2. Gisele Bündchen
“A Brazilian beauty who has become one of the highest-earning models of all time. Bündchen was a Victoria’s Secret Angel, has graced the cover of more than 1,000 magazines, and has several merchandising partnerships, and she’s also known for her charity work and environmental activism – she’s the Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme.”
“Gisele Bündchen is known as one of the world’s most iconic supermodels,” states Insider. “She was also one of the highest-paid models during the 2000s.
“Since 2004, Bündchen has been among the highest-paid models in the world, and as of 2007 was the 16th richest woman in the entertainment industry,” writes Ranker. “Bündchen pioneered the ‘horse walk,’ a stomping movement created when a model picks her knees up high and kicks her feet out in front.”
3. Kate Moss
This English model was discovered at age 14 while with her family on holiday, and her super thin figure and deadpan expression made her the face of heroin-chic high fashion. Aside from modeling, she’s been a contributing fashion editor for British Vogue and she has her own clothing line. “Kate Moss marked a change in the industry with her waifish look,” writes Insider. “She remains one of the world’s most recognizable models.”
“Not fitting the mold of supers who came before her at only 5 ft 6, the wafer thin Ms Moss defined the heroin-chic look and spawned the renaissance of 90s grunge,” notes Independent. “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.”
Marie Claire calls her “The ultimate muse.” “She rarely speaks, but that’s OK because all other significant cultural voices do it for her. An 18-carat statue of her worth £1.5m created in 2008 for the British Museum was the largest gold statue created since Ancient Egyptian times, a painting of her by Lucian Freud was sold for £3.9 million in 2005, and she’s inspired every fashion photographer from Corinne Day to Mario Testino.”
4. Naomi Campbell
Born in London, this model rose to fame in her teenage years and has been called the “Queen of the Catwalk.” She was the first Black model to land covers of British and French Vogue magazines, and she’s gained a reputation for having a strong personality.
“She may be known for her fiery temper, but Naomi Campbell will forever be remembered as one of the world’s top three models of the late 1980s, and as one of the 6 ‘original’ supermodels of the 1990s,” states Money Inc. “Thanks to featuring on over 500 magazine covers, mentoring on TV series such as The Face US, The Face UK, and The Face Australia, acting in shows such as Empire and American Horror Story: Hotel, and writing books like Swan (1994), Top Model (1994), Naomi (1996), and Naomi Campbell (2016), Campbell now ranks as one of the world’s richest ever models with a net worth of $60 million.”
The Outlet writes of Campbell, “She had initially intended to be a dancer, but was scouted by an agent and was on the cover of Elle before she turned sixteen. Campbell has walked runways, appeared in campaigns, covered magazines, released fragrances, made (admittedly terrible) music, and appeared in film and TV. She was one of the earliest successful Black models and is still modeling today.”
“Recruited at the age of 15, she established herself amongst the most recognizable and in-demand models of the late 1980s and the 1990s and was one of six models of her generation declared supermodels by the fashion industry and the international press,” states Ranker. “In addition to her modeling career, Campbell has embarked on other ventures, which include an R&B-pop studio album and several acting appearances in film and television, such as the modeling competition reality show The Face and its international offshoots. Campbell is also involved in charity work.”
5. Linda Evangelista
This Canadian beauty has been a famous supermodel since the 1980s. She’s known for her feisty attitude and easy ability to change up her look, particularly her hairstyles. “Linda Evangelista is one of the most accomplished models of all time, and has appeared on more than 700 magazine covers throughout her career,” states Insider.
“Canadian Linda Evangelista began her career in New York in 1984. In 1988, she cut her long hair into a pixie style, which started a trend for the cut that became known as ‘The Evangelista.’ She was known as the chameleon of the fashion industry, because of her ability to model for any label, and once famously said of her cohort, ‘We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day,’” writes The Outlet.
“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,” adds Independent. “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.”
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- Elle Canada
- Marie Claire
- Money Inc.
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- The Outlet
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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.