Top Supermodels of All Time

Top Models of All Time

If Helen was the face that launched a thousand ships, there are faces that could break a bank and bodies that are worth a million contracts. Yet, what does it take to become one of the greatest supermodels of all time?

Today, let us look back and check out the top 10 models, who changed the way we look at fashion today and why they became legendary in the modeling industry.

10. Veruschka

Veruschka
Number 10 on our list is Vera Grafin von Lehndorff- Steinort or Veruschka. Alongside supermodels Twiggy and Penelope Tree, Veruschka gave new life to the dry and boring runway style back in the 1960s with her tall and super slim figure, which defied the standards of beauty during that time. Often called as one of the world’s first supermodel, she is also known to be the mother of body painting which she described as the art to camouflage and to escape human form.

How She Started

This Prussian aristocrat was born on May 14, 1939 in East Prussia. Her father was hanged for being accused as a traitor during Adolf Hitler’s reign when she was 5 years old, while her countess mother was later was put into prison and they were left homeless after the war.

When she was 20, she studied textile design in Florence, where she was first offered to become a model. From then on, she has been frequently traveling from Europe to New York and became one of the top earners during her day.

How She Overcame Challenges

Being different is relative to rejection. And, that is exactly what happened to Veruschka before she took to the spotlight.

Before she became Veruschka, she was just “Vera”, who flew to New York, but failed to land a single project. Soon after, when she changed her name into Veruschka, she began filling out every wall with her cover, which made her the “girl that everybody stares at”.

9. Linda Evangelista

Linda Evangelista
Recognized for her statement “We are not getting out of bed for less than $10,000 a day”, Linda Evangelista made it to the Top 10 Models of All Time for being one of the first five supermodels who graced the covers of more than 700 magazines and was named by MTV as the second top model of the world during the ‘90s.

How She Started

A Canadian model with Italian parents, Linda started modeling in her local town and participating in pageants during her early teenage years. At the age of 19, she launched her modeling career in Paris, France and this was followed by her appearances on the covers and pages of prominent fashion magazines like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue.

How She Overcame Challenges

Like every other models who just started their career in the modeling industry, Linda had her shares of ups and downs when she was just a newbie. When she was 16 years old, she was asked to pose nude when she was in Japan and this made her have second thoughts about pursuing her career. It took her two years to give modeling a second chance after her refusal to do the nudity shoot, and the rest is history.

8. Christy Turlington

Christy Turlington
Christy Turlington, who was named as one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2014 by Times Magazine, created a name for herself not only in the modeling industry, but also in the business and humanitarian fields.

How She Started

Born on January 2, 1969 in California, American model Christy was humbly discovered by a photographer while she was out in Florida riding a horse. Right after, she began modeling while doing her studies, before she started working as a regular model by the age of 18.

There was no stopping her after she moved to New York to become a full time model. From runways to music videos, and magazines, this modern muse became the face of various brands like Calvin Klein, Georgio Armani and Maybelline.

How She Overcame Challenges

The crisis in Christy’s modeling career came during its height, when she was not paid on time. There was also a time when she felt she was losing her creativity with her exclusive contracts restricting her to work with other photographers or not being allowed to leave the city without permission.

But, looking at where the model is standing right now, it’s safe to say that the decisions she made to solve her problems contributed to her being quite the successful woman she is today.

7. Naomi Campbell

Naomi Campbell
The first black woman to appear on the cover of Time magazine and to land on the Top 7 of the list is Naomi Campbell. This supermodel, actress, producer, singer, author and philanthropist put an end to the norms of the modeling industry, after she graced in the cover of British Vogue also as the first black cover girl.

How She Started

Naomi was born in London, England, but spent most of her childhood days in Rome where her mother worked as a dancer. She started to appear in music videos while she was still young, but it was only when she was 15 that she started modeling. This was after she was scouted while window shopping in a market at West End London.

Since then, she emerged to become one of the most revered models in the world, walking on runways for such designers as Versace, Chanel and Christian Dior.

How She Overcame Challenges

The supermodel has been faced with legal controversies, mostly related to violence in the late 1990s along with her rehabilitation issues. Like most celebrities who believe in having the time of their lives, she experienced the same kind of downfall by giving in to drug addiction. But, it was not long before she was able to get back on her feet and get back to the spotlight.

Now, Naomi still appears on runways. But, she is mostly seen on TV as judge and coach for reality shows.

6. Iman

Iman
Iman, which means “faith” in Arabic, is Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid in real life. A model turned producer and actress, Iman was the first black supermodel in the industry. She was the first to become the face of an internationally renowned cosmetics brand, Revlon. Famous fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent also created and dedicated a collection for this “African Queen”.

How She Started

Iman is a daughter of a diplomat and a gynecologist born in Somalia, Africa. She was just an ordinary Political Science student in Nairobi when a photographer took notice of her and asked if she can be photographed. The photographer later claimed that he found Iman in the “jungle” and though it was not a very good campaign to begin with, it helped Iman start a thriving career in New York.

More than a model, Iman is now a mother and an actress who hosted several reality shows as well as a business woman with her own cosmetic brand and a visionary dedicated to support Somali women and children.

How She Overcame Challenges

Unlike today, black models rarely got the chance to walk on the runway before Iman. Being black was a big thing back then and racism was so imminent that one magazine editor actually depicted Iman as a white woman dipped in dark chocolate. But, designers banked on her uniqueness and her exotic charm, which made her one of the high profile and in demand models of all time.

5. CHRISTY BRINKLEY

Christy Brinkley
Christy Brinkley is the Top 5 Model of All Time for holding the record of having the longest running cosmetics contract in history as the face of Covergirl for 25 years as well as the first model to appear three consecutive times in Sports Illustrated magazine.

How She Started

The daughter of TV producer and writer Don Brinkley, Christy Brinkley has always been hailed for her enthusiasm for arts and creativity. While in France working as an illustrator, a photographer discovered her in a post office and introduced her to the world of modeling. Quite hesitant about starting out as a model, Christy soon became a favorite endorser for cosmetics, perfumes and shampoos. She has appeared in more than 200 prominent magazine covers within her 45 years in the beauty industry.

A Ford model for 30 years, a successful real estate magnate and now working in Broadway, Brinkley is considered one of the richest models of all time.

4. SUZY PARKER

Suzy Parker
The Beatles were among those who were swept off their feet over Suzy Parker’s timeless beauty and elegance that they made a song just for her, although it was not officially released.  With Christian Dior calling Parker as the “most beautiful woman in the world”, its can clearly be seen how she became the first model to earn $100,000 a year during the 1950s.

How She Started

A true blooded New Yorker, Suzy became a supermodel with the help of her sister, Dorian Parker, who insisted to be booked with a modeling agency alongside her younger sister. Her unique features, which included her clear-cut cheek bones and the freckles on her face, made her into Coco Chanel’s favorite and also the most photographed woman in the world during the peak of her career.

How She Overcame Challenges

It was not easy for Suzy to have a sister who looked perfect in every way. When she compared her red hair, pale eyes and blemishes against her sexy, petite and flawless top model sister, the model could not help but cry herself to sleep almost every night during the early stage of her career.

She didn’t expect for their difference back then to be what would eventually book her for a cover in Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue and become the face of Revlon. Not to mention the fact that it was her looks that got her the cameo role in the movie Funny Faces and the lead role in Kiss Them for Me, during the ‘50s.

3. TWIGGY

Twiggy

Lesly Lawson, commonly known as Twiggy, was named as the Face of 1966 by Daily Express and was voted as the British Woman of the Year. Even with Penelope Tree and Veruschka, Twiggy was still most remembered for making “skinny” the new trend on the runway during their time.

Originally called “Sticks”, Twiggy is known for her wide eyes and thin figure, which literally became the epitome of beauty during the swinging sixties era in London.

How She Started

Twiggy was the first model to appear in Vogue magazine before she even became a model at the age of 17. Her fast entry into the industry happened when she went to Leonard’s salon to have her hair cut. Leonard personally cropped her hair short and took photos of her as his model for his new cut.

The photo of Twiggy‘s new look that was hanged in the salon caught the attention of a fashion editor from Daily Express who came to the salon the next day. After three weeks, she appeared in the Daily Express headline as the face of 1960 and a year later, she had all the paparazzi following her.

How She Overcame Challenges

Not everyone was pleased with Twiggy’s unusually thin built and boy cut hair though. Critics such as fashion editors and supermodels expressed their disapproval of her slender body saying it made her look pathetic and awkward even if she was genetically thin.

But, all these negative comments neither stopped her from becoming an international sensation nor prevented 1967 from being known as the Twiggy “phenomenon”. Barbie dolls were patterned after her looks, and pretty soon her face was seen on lunch boxes, board games and pens. Now, at the age of 65, she is still in the fashion industry designing for Marks and Spencers and is now the face of L’Oreal.

2. Cindy Crawford

Cindy Crawford

The world’s highest-paid model in 1995 according to Forbes magazine and named one of the 100 Hottest Women of All Time by Men’s Health magazine, Cindy Crawford is a personality relative to modeling.

This beauty icon and supermodel distinguished for her mole located just above her lip appeared in more than 1,000 magazine covers and was named as the second most beautiful woman in the world next to Demi Moore by Shape Magazine in 1997.

How She Started

An American supermodel with German, English and French lineage, Cindy was discovered by a photographer while she was still a student. She was doing her studies and modeling hand in hand until she decided to become a full time model and signed up with a New York modeling agency.

Soon she began campaigning for such famous names in the industry as Versace, Maybelline and Clairol. Her timeless beauty also won her long term contracts with well known brands like Revlon, Omega and Pepsi.

As one of America’s most celebrated models, her influence continued as she worked in entertainment industry having appeared in movies and television shows while periodically gracing some magazines.

1. Gisele Bundchen

Gisele Bundchen
If Linda Evangelista won’t get out of bed for less than $10,000, technically, Gisele Bundchen is not stepping out of her door for anything lower than $128,000 a day. With an estimated worth of $47 million before taxes and fees for the past 12 months, Bundchen is the world’s highest paid model as of 2014 and was named as the “world’s richest  supermodel” by the Guinness Book of World Records.

How She Started

Gisele Caroline Bundchen was born on July 20, 1980 in South Brazil. She was taking modeling courses together with her sisters during her early years in the industry, but it was during their school’s activity in Sao Paulo’s mall that she was discovered by a reputable modeling agency. She started climbing her way to the top after she walked in high heels on a wet runway for Alexander McQueen’s collection.

How She Overcame Challenges

Gisele is not a typical model with perfect features and stunning looks. In fact, she was teased by her friends when she was a kid for being too skinny and for having a neck like that of Olive in the Popeye show.

During the start of her career, she joined an international contest for models. However, she did not bag the crown and barely made it to the 4th place. She also had to audition for over 40 shows before she had her big break.

Maybe it was because of her determination to take her personality into the runway and turn her unique features into bankable assets that made her the most in demand cover girl. Gisele has appeared in 7,000 magazine covers all across the globe, the most number of covers for any other model in history.

Gisele is definitely not worth millions just for nothing. As the first Brazilian self-made billionaire who brought back the generation of sexy models in the runway, Gisele Bundchen is no doubt the Greatest Model of All Time.

The models in this list are making history not just because of what they’re worth. It is also because they turned their flaws and individuality into a vast fortune, by taking every opportunity that falls into their lap and combined it with hard work and unwavering conviction.

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