The fashion industry is a dynamic one that has been evolving ever since the beginning of time. It might be hard to believe, but there was a time when the idea of modeling as a profession was considered absurd. Women like Pattie Boyd and Twiggy who modeled in the 1960s were not as influential as the present-day models. It wasn’t until the 1970s that models started having a semblance of the brand impact and influence that they currently have today. Go on a journey through history to discover who was the biggest supermodel in the year you were born.
1. 1970: Lauren Hutton
Modeling usually requires perfection in all aspects, Lauren Hutton changed all that. She built her aura around her imperfection - a gap tooth that many agents suggested covering up. Hutton started modeling in 1963.
Her big break came when she was photographed by Richard Avedon for Chanel in 1968. By 1973, she signed the biggest modeling contract of that time with Revlon and within that period, she graced the covers of over 25 magazines and appeared in numerous advertising campaigns. She continues to model into her 70s.
2. 1971: Jean Shrimpton
In 2009, Harper's Bazaar named Jean Shrimpton as one of the best 26 models of all time, this shows how influential this fashion icon was. she started modeling at the tender age of 17 and rose to prominence after her work with photographer David Bailey in 1960.
By 1963, Glamour Magazine named her the model of the year and from there, she appeared in magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, Elle, etc. She popularized the wearing of miniskirt and in 1971, Time Magazine described her as a supermodel. Making her the first person to be described thus. Despite all her fame, she remained a humble person.
3. 1972: Marisa Berenson
Berenson is a woman of many talents. Not only was she a supermodel, but she was also an outstanding actress with Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations to her name.
As a model, she achieved fame in the 1960s and made the cover of Vogue in 1970 and Time in 1975. Known for her frequent appearance in night clubs, she was dubbed the Queen of the night and according to Yves Saint-Laurent, the “girl of the Seventies.”
4. 1973: Rene Russo
It is said that Rene Russo was accidentally discovered at a Rolling Stones concert by John Crossby who saw her potential. She was signed to Ford Modeling Agency and went on to become one of the biggest models of the 1970s. She appeared on the covers of Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Mademoiselle, etc.
She later ventured into acting and starred in several movies such as Lethal Weapon, Outbreak, The Thomas Crown Affair, Get Shorty among others.
5. 1974: Beverly Johnson
Beverly Johnson was the first Afro-American model to appear on the cover of America Vogue. She was also the first to appear on the cover of Elle and according to The New York Times, one of the most influential people in fashion in the 20th century.
Beverly was also an actress with appearances in several movies such as Def Jam's How to Be a Player, Ashanti, Crossroads, as well as guest appearances on TV shows like Law & Order, The Parent 'Hood, etc.
6. 1975: Jerry Hall
Although Jerry Hall is from Texas, it was in France that her modeling potential was discovered by fashion agent Claude Haddad. She rose to prominence when she appeared as a mermaid on the cover of Roxy Music’s album, Siren in 1975.
By 1977, she has graced the covers of over 40 magazines including Italian Vogue and Cosmopolitan. She later married Mick Jagger, and in 2016 won the Lifetime Achievement Award from Fashion Group International, Dallas.
7. 1976: Iman
Born Zara Mohammed Abdulmajid, Iman is an American-Somalian model discovered by famous photographer, Peter Beard who convinced her to move to America. This move turned out to be very profitable as she landed her first modeling job a year later in 1976 when she covered Vogue.
Though she was a very humble woman who insisted there is nothing special about her looks as she looked like a typical Somalian, the fashion world was in love with her and during her prime, she was the favorite of prominent designers such as Versace, Calvin Klein, Donna Karen, etc. Yves Saint-Lauren described her as his dream woman.
8. 1977: Janice Dickinson
Janice Dickinson came at a time when the industry was dominated by blue-eyed blondes. She was rejected by several modeling agencies and had to move to Paris where she quickly achieved prominence for her looks.
She later returned to New York and was signed by Ford Models which was one of the agencies that rejected her at first. She appeared on Vogue international editions 37 times while also covering other magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Playboy, Marie Clarie, etc. She is also a fashion photographer and an entrepreneur with her own jewelry line.
9. 1978: Cheryl Tiegs
Cheryl started her modeling career in high school and rose to fame with a swimsuit in which she appeared as a Seventeen year old. This ad attracted interest from reputable fashion magazines such as Glamour who immediately had a photoshoot with her and made her a cover model.
Her profile increased over time as she went on to cover magazines such as Elle, Seventeen, Harper's Bazaar, etc. She was the first model to appear twice on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. She is also an entrepreneur with her own fashion line and a philanthropist.
10. 1979: Gia Carangi
Carangi's rise to fame was nothing short of astronomic. She arrived in New York in 1978 at the age of 17 and by 1979, she was already a household name in the modeling industry and one of the best paid.
Her fast rise to fame was however followed by a sharp decline due to her drug addiction and lifestyle which resulted in her death from AIDS-related complications at 26. Within the short period, she covered magazines such as Vogue and Cosmopolitan and appeared in ads for top fashion houses such as Versace, Armani, Dior, and Yves Saint-Lauren.
11. 1980: Brooke Shields
Brooke Shields started as a child actor who became famous for the role of a child prostitute in the 1978 movie, Pretty Baby. In 1980, she featured in an audacious Calvin Klein advertisement where she said “You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.” At a time, she was the youngest model to cover Vogue.
Shields was also a talented actress who starred in several movies and TV series. In 1983, she took a break to attend Princeton University where she graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Romance Languages.
12. 1981: Christie Brinkley
Cheryl Tiegs might have been the first to appear on two covers of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issues, but Christie did better. She appeared on the cover in an unprecedented three consecutive times and for 25 years was the face of Cover Girl.
Just like Cheryl, she was a California girl with natural beauty who didn't really consider modeling as a career before she was discovered in 1973. Apart from modeling, she also featured in movies, TV shows, and music videos.
13. 1982: Cindy Crawford
Crawford was born in DeKalb, Illinois and started modeling while in high school. At 17, she came second in Elite Model Management 's Look of the Year contest and later decided to pursue modeling even though that meant dropping out of Northwestern University where she was studying chemical engineering.
She was an instant success as a model and graced over 500 magazine covers by 1998. She was also an iconic runway model and walked the runways for Chanel, Versace, Dior, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors among others. She was known for her big hair and unique facial mole.
14. 1983: Elle Macpherson
Nicknamed “The Body”, Macpherson's incredible figure attracted many famous magazines to her. She moved to New York from Australia in 1982 and by 1983 has already covered Elle, Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire.
Elle magazine featured her in every issue for six consecutive years and she also appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue for five unprecedented times. She is also an actress, entrepreneur, television host and producer.
15. 1984: Paulina Porizkova
At 18, The Swedish-American model was the first woman from Central Europe to cover the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. She was also the first woman after Christie Brinkley to appear on the cover of two consecutive issues.
By the early 1980s, she has already established herself as a top model in Europe, especially Paris. However, she didn't gain prominence in the American modeling industry until an aspiring makeup artist used her as a canvas and sent the photos to Elite Modeling Agency.
16. 1985: Carol Alt
Alt major career break came when she covered Harper's Bazaar in 1979. It wasn't however until 1982 that she attained global prominence after featuring as the cover for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
During the 1980s, she featured in almost 500 magazine covers thereby becoming one of the most famous supermodels of that era. She was referred to as “The Face” by Life Magazine and during her prime appeared in several advertisement campaigns for products such as Diet Pepsi and Givenchy.
17. 1986: Kim Alexis
Alexis attained global prominence when she replaced Lauren Hutton as the face of Revlon Ultimate II Line in 1983. She was a regular feature in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in the 1980s.
She also acted in a few TV shows and movies, most notably Holy Man where she starred along Eddie Murphy.
18. 1987: Yasmin Le Bon
This British born model was of the highest-paid during the 1980s. She started modeling while still in school and covered the first American and British issues of Elle. She also featured on the cover of other magazines such as Vogue, Marie Claire, and Cosmopolitan.
In 1987, she became the face of Guess? This mother of three has represented prestigious fashion brands such as Banana Republic, Dior, Versace, Chanel, and Calvin Klein.
19. 1988: Karen Alexander
Alexander's story is that of persistence and never giving up in the face of rejection. The Afro-American model was rejected by several modeling agencies who gave reasons such as being un-photogenic or uncommercial enough, but she didn't give up.
The now-defunct Legend agency finally signed her and she went on to establish herself as one of the top models of the 1980s. She covered Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Glamour, etc. She represented Tiffany & Co., Chanel and Cover Girl in advertising campaigns.
20. 1989: Kathy Ireland
Ireland is one of the wealthiest models alive. She started modeling as a teenager in 1979 and peaked a decade later with The 1989 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue which she covered. To date, this issue is the most sold issue and it was named the Greatest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover of All Time at the 50th anniversary of the magazine.
She founded a Kathy Ireland World Wide, a brand marketing agency in 1993 and business was so profitable that by 2015, Forbes estimated her to be worth $420 million dollars.
21. 1990: Linda Evangelista
She started modeling in 1984 with Elite Model Management. Following the advice of photographer Peter Lindbergh, she cut her hair short in a hairstyle called the Linda. This move was successful as it inspired many women around the world to copy the haircut.
She was nicknamed the Chameleon due to her ability to seamlessly change her appearance. In 2008, she was voted as "The Greatest Supermodel of All Time" by the viewers of the television show Fashion File.
22. 1991: Christy Turlington
This model was famous for her perfectly symmetrical face and pillow lipped smile which made Grace Coddington of American Vogue magazine to describe her as "the most beautiful woman in the world.
She was one of the highest-earning models of her time and in 1991, earned $800,000 during a 12-day campaign with Maybelline. She represented Calvin Klein Eternity campaign twice in 1989 and 2014 and was a regular cover feature. She also runs a nonprofit organization called Every Mother Counts, which focuses on making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother.
23. 1992: Kate Moss
She started modeling at 14 and was considered to be anti-model. This was due to her stature which was considered to be too short and too thin when compared with previous models. Despite this, she was able to cement her status as a supermodel and a great influencer of fashion.
Her collaborations with Calvin Klein did great for her career and she played a significant role in the " heroin chic " and size zero fashion trends. She is one of the most influential models of her time and has featured in campaigns by top designers such as Chanel, Balenciaga, Burberry, Versace, Yves Saint-Laurent, Dior, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Calvin Klein, Alexander McQueen, etc.
24. 1993: Naomi Campbell
Naomi Campbell is part of the six supermodels regarded as the Big Six in the fashion industry. Her first public appearance was in Bob Marley's video for “Is This Love”. She was seven at that time. By the time she was 16, she has covered the British version of Elle and was already gaining recognition.
She faced a lot of racial discrimination but due to support from her model friends such as Lucas Evangelista and Christy Turlington as well as design icon Yves Saint-Lauren, she was able to break these barriers. She was the first black woman to cover French Vogue and also in 1987, the first to do the same for British Vogue since 1966. She featured in few movies and also ventures into music, even releasing an album. She is an activist against racial discrimination and also involved in many charitable causes.
25. 1994: Claudia Schiffer
Schiffer rose to prominence in the early 1990s. The German beauty wanted to become a lawyer like her father but was discovered in Düsseldorf by the head of Metropolitan Model Agency who signed her as a model.
She appeared on the cover of Elle as well as Vogue and featured in advertising campaigns for Guess? Chanel, Marc Jacobs, Prada, and other designers. She has appeared on over 1000 magazine covers and holds the Guinness World Record for the model with most covers.
26. 1995: Amber Valletta
With 16 American Vogue magazine covers to her name, Amber established herself as a supermodel. She walked the runway and appeared in adverts for Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Valentino, Gucci, Versace, and Calvin Klein.
Apart from modeling, she is also an actress who featured in several movies including What Lies Beneath, Transporter 2, Man About Town, The Spy Next Door, etc. She also appeared on television shows such as Revenge and Blood & Oil.
27. 1996: Tyra Banks
Tyra Banks was the first African-American woman to be featured on the covers of GQ and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. She appeared on covers of top magazines like Harper's Bazaar, Vogue and Vanity Fair. She had a very successful career both on and off the runway. In 1997, she became the first African-American model to become a Victoria’s Secrets Angel.
She was also an actress and appeared in the fourth season of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air among other movies and TV shows. She was also a producer and a television host and in 2008, won the Daytime Emmy Award for her work and production on The Tyra Banks Show. She is an entrepreneur with her cosmetic line, an author and a guest lecturer at Stanford University.
28. 1997: Helena Christensen
She started her career by winning Miss Universe Denmark in 1986 and later represented Denmark at the Miss Universe before finally moving to Paris to pursue modeling full-time. She attained fame in the 1990s after featuring in the music video for Wicked Game and appeared on the cover of Vogue, W, Elle, etc.
She has over 650 magazine covers to her name and was one of Victoria's Secrets Angels. She is also a photographer and in 1999, she was the creative director of Nylon. She is an activist for many charitable causes such as climate change and breast cancer.
29. 1998: Rebecca Romjin
While she's popular for her character in the X-Men franchise, Romjin is actually a supermodel who achieved prominence in the 1990s. She started her career in 1991 and covered Elle, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Allure, Glamour, GQ, Esquire, and Sports Illustrated.
She has also featured in advertising campaigns for top designers in the world and walked the runways with the likes of Evangelista, Crawford, and Turnlignton. She is also an actress with popular movies such as X-Men and Star Trek: Discovery to her name.
30. 1999: Heidi Klum
As the first German woman to become Victoria's Secrets Angel, Klum has earned the right to be regarded as a supermodel. She marked the transition from '90s supermodels to '00 super career women.
She covered the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 1998 and appeared in several commercials for Volkswagen and McDonalds. A top earner in her heydays, Heidi Klum was also an actress and made occasional appearances in movies and television shows such as How I Met Your Mother, Sex and the City, The Devil Wears Prada, etc. She is also a television producer and author.
31. 2000: Gisele Bündchen
Gisele Bündchen was the first Brazilian model to attain the rank of supermodel. She started modeling in 1997 and was credited by Vogue as the one who ended the heroin chic era and ushered in the era of sexy, healthy look with curves and a golden tan.
She was a Victoria's Secrets Angel for eight years and in 2014, she was named by Forbes as the 89th powerful woman in the world. She is married with children and involved in charities including Save the Children, Red Cross, and Doctors Without Borders.
32. 2001: Natalia Vodianova
According to Forbes, she was the third highest-earning model of 2012. A mother of five, she started modeling at 17 and achieved great success as a runway, editorial, and advertising model. She has walked in over 200 shows for big names such as Prada, Calvin Klein, Givenchy, etc.
She is renowned for her philanthropic works as a member of Special Olympics International Board of Directors and founder of Naked Heart Foundation, an organization focused on providing a safe environment for children in urban Russia and supporting families raising kids with disabilities.
33. 2002: Liya Kebede
The Ethiopian model started her career in 2000 and gained prominence when she got the exclusive contract from Tom Ford to model his Gucci Fall/Winter 2000 fashion show. She appeared on the cover of Vogue, V, Time's Style and Design among other magazines.
Apart from modeling, she is an actress and advocates for maternal health with her foundation. She is the WHO's Ambassador for Maternal Newborn and Child Health. She also writes for the Huffington Post.
34. 2003: Daria Werbowy
Werbowy's journey to stardom as a model was not the smoothest. She started modeling very early and at 14, she won a national modeling contest in Toronto. However, she didn't get global recognition until 2003 when she covered Vogue Italia thrice and landed a deal for Prada 's Fall/Winter ad campaign.
She is currently one of the faces of Lancôme and the second Canadian model after Linda Evangelista to have a star on the Canadian Walk of Fame.
35. 2004: Gemma Ward
Ward started in 2003 with her début at the Australian Fashion Week. A year later, she became the youngest model to appear on the cover of American Vogue at 16. Her looks inspired a new generation of baby doll-like models.
She appeared on the cover of the inaugural Vogue China and at 18, she was the first model to appear on the cover of Teen Vogue. She is also an actress and has starred in movies such as The Black Balloon and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
36. 2005: Doutzen Kroes
She started modeling in 2003 and quickly rose to fame. She was signed by Victoria's Secrets and became one of their Angels in 2008. In 2013, she became the first model with four different solo international covers of Vogue's September issue in a single year.
The Dutch model is one of the best paid in the industry and is a philanthropist and activist with involvement in Dance4Life, a nonprofit organization that uses music and dance to create awareness about HIV/AIDS. She has featured in Nova Zembla, a Dutch film and also in Wonder Woman as one of the Amazons.
37. 2006: Coco Rocha
The Canadian model is regarded as one of the first digital supermodels due to how she uses social media to her advantage. She graced many fashion shows and walked for top designers such as Stella McCartney, Christian Lacroix, Marc Jacobs, etc.
She is famous for occasionally dancing down the runway during shows and has participated in advertising campaigns for the likes of Versace, Americana Manhasset, Balenciaga, Chanel, D&G, Dior, The Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, Yves Saint-Laurent, etc.
38. 2007: Agyness Deyn
According to her biography, she was discovered by an agent when shopping with her friend Henry Holland in London. In 2007, she appeared with other supermodels on the cover of Vogue as "The World's Next Top Models."
She is also an actress with movies such as Clash of the Titans and Patient Zero to her credit. She sang at the beginning of Rihanna's ‘We Found Love’ music video.
39. 2008: Karlie Kloss
It was her cover for Scene Magazine when she was 14 that determined her career path. It earned her a modeling contract with Abercrombie Kids and subsequently an opportunity at New York Fashion Week in 2008 where she walked 31 runways.
At 17, Vogue Paris regarded her as one of the top 30 models of the 2000s. She was a Victoria's Secrets Angel between 2012 and 2015 when she took a break to attend New York University. She is a passionate computer programmer and founded Kode with Klossy, a camp where young girls can learn computer science and software engineering.
40. 2009: Bar Refaeli
The mother of two started modeling as a baby aged eight months. She has appeared on the cover of several magazines such as Elle, Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, GQ, etc. In 2009, she was on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
She is also a television host and has hosted Israeli X Factor since 2013 as well as Eurovision Song Contest in 2019. She is passionate about reducing the use of plastic bags in Israel as well as the use and conservation of water.
41. 2010: Miranda Kerr
The Australian model became famous in 2007 as one of Victoria's Secrets Angels. She won the Dolly magazine /Impulse model competition at 13 and later signed to NEXT Model Management. She featured in print and runway campaigns for fashion labels such as Alex Perry, Levi's, Balenciaga, etc.
She was the first pregnant model for Vogue as she featured in Vogue Australia while about six months pregnant in 2011. She made guest appearances on the popular show How I Met Your Mother.