Collage : “Women of Perfection, The Billion Dollar Face” 2012 Mixed mediums Seaki Nelson 

Our present time is not completely without famous models. Kate Moss is certainly instantly recognizable enough to be considered a supermodel. Much like Twiggy did before her, it was the discovery of Kate Moss which brought in a renewed trend of ultra-thin waif-like models and was the beginning of the end for the more curvaceous ones. Discovered in 1988 at the age of 14, Kate Moss and her pencil thin form were downright shocking when she became the focal point of a Calvin Klein campaign in 1993. Although Moss is put into the category of the Big Six, her style was really the opposite of the other five supermodels, and her rising fame was the beginning of the end for models who looked like Claudia or Cindy. Despite some hits her career has taken from reported drug use, Moss remains one of the most recognizable models of our time. She is also widely considered to be a true fashion icon. One shot in a magazine of Kate leaving a shop wearing ballet flats or skinny jeans, and stores will sell out of them by the next day. She does not have the same down-to-earth natural beauty of the models who preceded her, but Kate Moss is nonetheless a force to be reckoned with in the international fashion scene.

There is one other present day model who meets the criteria to be called a genuine supermodel. According to Claudia Schiffer, only Gisele Bündchen qualifies as a supermodel in today’s fashion scene. Since 2005, Bündchen has been the highest paid model, although without the same support of the fashion magazine industry granted her predecessors, the Brazilian beauty is unlikely to reach their heights of stardom. As magazines like Vogue have turned away from promoting new models and fashion designers have embraced an anorexic aesthetic, there is one source which has taken up the mantle for models with more womanly curves, and that is Victoria’s Secret. The lingerie giant has launched many careers and becoming one of its “Angels” can provide a great career boost for a model, just as it did for Bündchen. Gisele has been the star of campaigns for most of the fashion giants, including Dior, Balenciaga, Versace, and Louis Vuitton, as well as watchmaker Ebel and Apple Computers. Just as Iman and Christie Brinkley did before her, Bündchen married a celebrity from the entertainment world, in her case New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady.

The first trio of ultra-supermodels was the Trinity: Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington. Each of the models was a mega-star in her own right, and together, they were a force to be reckoned with. They were the go-to girls for fashion designers like Versace, every fashion magazine, and advertisers. The popularity of the Trinity meant that they could virtually name their own price. In 1991, Christy Turlington landed a Maybelline cosmetics contract that paid her $800,000 for only twelve days of work! Perhaps it was sweet deals like that which led Linda Evangelista to utter her notorious comment, “We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day.” toVogue in 1990. Whether Evangelista’s remarks were as spoiled and bratty as they were taken to be at the time (her comment caused a huge uproar) or she was merely trying to jokingly make a point, if anything the only inaccuracy was that her base sum was too low. Although it did not come across well, Evangelista made a valid observation: the power had shifted in the fashion realm, and it was all in the well-manicured hands of the models.

In addition to the original Trinity, three more models make the final cut of what is known as the Big Six: the official and universally accepted list of the top supermodels. Besides Campbell, Turlington, and Evangelista, there is Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford, and (later) Kate Moss. These were the women who appeared on all the magazine covers, were in the highest demand by fashion designers and advertisers, and were the best known by the public at large. These women had tremendous earning power; in 1995 Claudia Schiffer earned $12 million, a sum to rival the income of most of Hollywood’s biggest stars. As Michael Kors once said of Crawford, “Cindy changed the perception of the ‘sexy American girl’ from classic blue eyed blonde to a more sultry brunette with brains, charm, and professionalism to spare.” Crawford’s 1994 Pepsi commercial captured the mass appeal of the charming beauty.

The immense celebrity of the supermodels allowed them to get away with things which would have been disastrous to lesser careers. When Linda Evangelista cut off her long hair in 1988, it set off shockwaves which resulted in designers and fashion editors dropping her left and right. By the next year, not only was Evangelista back on top, but her short hair sparked a trend among legions of average women. This led to her being crowned “the Chameleon”, one of the few models in the world who was so striking and powerful that she could drastically change her hair length and hair color while still maintaining her status as one of the world’s elite models. On a more serious note, the career of Naomi Campbell has been marred by ugly legal incidents, notably several accusations of assaulting her employees with phones and a Blackberry, but she is STILL in demand as a model with some of the world’s most esteemed fashion brands and houses. In my personal opinion, the Supermodel WHILE re appear one day. Even as cosmetic and apparel brands use celebrities more and more, there is a ‘mystique’ behind a model, a women who sole profession is to grace that camera with her heavenly face. Women want to be her, men want to have her. Celeb woman do not have this “it factor” when it comes to beauty. Sure , some of them are  just as beautiful as models, but their inherent job is acting, and we as the buying public, know this. Many ad companies have opted to have celebs in their campaigns, in order to attract the “everyday woman”, but we see where this is leading, (ASA is placing heavy bans on ‘photo-shopped’ celeb campaigns). There is something delicious about  a woman, or man that is beautiful, not because they were photoshopped to extreme measures, but because they were created that way. Models are not perfect, and I have seen a few in my day that should NEVER leave their home without make-up, ( or a paper bag if they choose  to do so) but they are models. Supermodels, in their glory, can drive up profit margins and sells for ANY TYPE of product, in ways that actors, and musicians will never be able to do. Remember, we are a world-wide audience that thrives on the inspiration that beauty brings, it captures our imagination,and drives our urges, and a supermodel channels this fascination perfectly.

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