No matter which way you try to slice it, this is a man’s world. This is basically the reason why men are usually way overrepresented in most fields from politics to science, technology to the arts, warfare to religion, and education to business, just to name the obvious. With few exceptions, it is rare to find any field that was or is dominated by women and one such exception, is the fashion industry and to be more specific, the “glorious” catwalk.
From around the mid-twentieth century when it began to leave its mark on advertising and the fashion industry until now, modeling has been dominated by gorgeous women who traditionally seduce males by just wearing a piece of clothing, often tight, provocative, and colorful. Today we’re ranking the 25 greatest fashion models who have influenced pop culture like very few people have.
Estelle was one of the most famous French models ever and her reign lasted for two decades from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s. She started at age nineteen and during the course of her career she appeared in the 1993 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and the following year she was named one of the “50 Most Beautiful People” by People magazine.
This Russian beauty with stunning eyes, luscious lips, and insanely hot body is one of the most famous and richest models of our time and the woman who has captured the heart of the greatest footballer in the world: Cristiano Ronaldo. For this alone, she could never, ever not appear on such a list. Agreed?
Even if you’re not familiar with fashion models you definitely know this gorgeous woman from Chris Isaak’s hit single and steamy (for that time) 1990s video “Wicked Game.” And yes, this breathtaking beauty playing in the sand and the waves in this black-and-white video is one of the top models in fashion history.
Tyra Banks made history for becoming the first African-American model to be on the covers of Sports Illustrated and GQ, even though there had already been very successful black models (Naomi and Iman) before her. Nowadays she’s “the boss” of the reality TV series America’s Next Top Model.
Milla Jovovich was born in 1975 in Kiev, then the Soviet Union, and managed to conquer the Western fashion world with more than one hundred major magazine covers under her belt. In 2002 she gained the respect of every video gamer and sci-fi geek when she conquered box offices worldwide by portraying Alice in Resident Evil. Respect!
One of the highest-paid and most prolific models of the past twenty years Laetitia Casta became a “GUESS? Girl” in 1993 and gained worldwide fame as a Victoria’s Secret Angel and as a spokeswoman for L’Oréal in the late 1990s. She has appeared on more than one hundred covers of such gigantic magazines as Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Elle, and Glamour, and has modeled for the greatest designers including Yves Saint Laurent, Jean Paul Gaultier, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Roberto Cavalli, Vivienne Westwood, and Chanel.
Elle Macpherson earned the title of the “Greatest Body” (for a model, that is) ever and broke a world record with her five appearances on the cover of Sports Illustrated. What more could a girl ask for?
Stephanie Seymour was one of the ‘90s “Dream Team” alongside Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, and Linda Evangelista. She was also one of the very first Victoria’s Secret models. She has been described as a “Modern Muse” by Vogue and was engaged to Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses, which makes her, in our eyes, an absolute badass.
At the age of fifteen, Lima finished first in Ford’s “Supermodel of Brazil” competition, and only a year later took second place in the Ford “Supermodel of the World” contest. These victories were only the beginning, however. Lima has been one of the highest-earning models in the world according to Forbes for the past five years and she’s considered one of the greatest models of the day.
Christy Turlington’s face became globally familiar through her Calvin Klein’s ads. She modeled for Klein for more than two decades. At some point during the 1990s she was considered America’s most recognized fashion model.
One of the most famous models of all time, Naomi Campbell made a name for herself outside the fashion industry as the ultimate bitch, while her relationships with the likes of Robert De Niro, Mike Tyson, Gerard Butler, and, more recently, Russian billionaire Vladislav Doronin helped get her in the headlines pretty often.
Linda is Canada’s hottest export ever when it comes to the fashion industry and with being featured on nearly seven hundred covers of some of the most significant fashion magazines in the world and modeling for every single major fashion designer of her era, she has left no doubts as to her amazing legacy. She will always be remembered for saying, “I don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day.”
Kate Moss became widely known for dating superstars such as Johnny Depp, Daniel Craig, and Pete Doherty, but in the meantime she was making a name for herself on the runways of the world and is widely considered one of the greatest supermodels to ever grace them.
If there was an award or an official record for the most covers on major magazines then the German supermodel would undoubtedly hold the title since she has appeared more than seven hundred times on the cover of some of the most famous fashion (and non-fashion) magazines around the world. Her net worth is estimated at about $85 million. Not bad, huh?
Tiegs is considered one of the first American supermodels in history and is rightfully considered a legend in the business. She is best known for her numerous appearances on the covers of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and of course for her famous “Pink Bikini” poster from the late 1970s, which became an iconic pop culture image.
Even though most people know her as David Bowie’s wife, Iman is a fashion model pioneer who came long before the likes of Naomi and Tyra. She was the first black model to have a substantial impact in the white-dominated field of fashion. She has worked with every great fashion designer throughout her stellar career, but no one has adored her more than Yves Saint Laurent, who referred to her as his muse and dream woman.
We could literally use a whole page to list all the awards, accolades, and titles this woman has earned during her amazing career but let’s just say that she’s the most famous, successful, and recognized model of our day. Even though there have been quite a few models throughout the years to claim the title of the first supermodel in history, the only certain thing is that Gisele has officially been given (by Forbes magazine) the title of the best-paid model of all time and also holds the distinction of being the world’s first-ever “übermodel.”
The daughter of a Prussian count (Count von Lehndorff-Steinort) who was involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler in 1944 and hanged that year (when Veruschka was only three), Veruschka went on to become one of the greatest and most popular models of the 1960s. At her peak, she earned more than $10,000 a day, a crazy amount of money for the time and Channel 5 ranked her as one of the World’s 25 Greatest Supermodels of all time.
Christie Brinkley is a former American supermodel and was one of the only three models in history featured as dolls produced by Matchbox Toys called “The Real Model Collection.” She also appeared on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in 1979, 1980, and 1981, making history as the first model to be featured on its covers three years in a row.
Cindy Crawford made history when she walked the iconic red carpet at the 1991 Academy Awards (next to her then-husband Richard Gere) wearing a red Versace gown that made her look like a Disney princess straight out of one of their animated films. She’s probably the greatest supermodel of the past twenty-five years and undoubtedly the most famous American supermodel worldwide.
Paulina Porizkova, a Czech-born model and actress made history back in the mid-1980s when she became the first woman from Central Europe (and a country under a communist regime) to be on the cover of the 1984 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. She was also the second woman after Christie Brinkley to appear on the swimsuit issue’s front cover twice, in 1984 and 1985.
The self-proclaimed “world’s first supermodel” might be exaggerating a bit with her statement but Dickinson is without a doubt one of the greatest models who ever lived and probably the most famous model of both the gold decades of the ‘70s and ‘80s.
Twiggy is one of the first models in history to have made it big and became famous not only inside fashion circles but achieved mainstream popularity, too. She’s to fashion what Elvis is to Rock ‘N’ Roll: a pioneer.
Jean Shrimpton was a strikingly attractive woman and one of the first supermodels of the Swinging Sixties. The British beauty appeared on multiple covers of well-known magazines including Vogue, Vanity Fair, Glamour, Elle, and Time, among others. In 2012, Time named Shrimpton one of the 100 most influential fashion icons of all time and if Time says so it wouldn’t be very wise to argue, now would it?
Suzy Parker, ladies and gentlemen, is not just another model but an incredible legend and the prototype for the term “First Supermodel in History.” She worked as a model for four decades, from the 1940s to the 1970s, and became the first model to earn more than $200 an hour and $100,000 a year. She was the favorite of both the legendary Coco Chanel and photographer Richard Avedon. At the height of her popularity, she was considered to be the most photographed woman in the world.
She inspired Audrey Hepburn’s legendary character of Jo Stockton in Funny Face (1957) and is the only fashion model to have a Beatles song named after her, even though it was never officially released.