By Nancy Harrington, Amy Harrington, ,
Published May 15, 2015
In the late '60s a new breed of fashion icon emerged: some of the most stunningly beautiful women ever, they put the "super" in supermodels. But how do these beauties hold up decades later? Have the crow's feet set in? Are they still Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover-worthy?
Shockingly, yes, most of these women have held up amazingly well over the years. You can decide whether they should thank their incredible genes or their plastic surgeons as we check out the world's greatest supermodels, then and now.
Though others have claimed to be the first supermodel, in our book Twiggy is #1. She hit the fashion world in the late '60s and never looked back. Her trademark long, drawn-on lashes and androgynous look made her an instant icon. Add in her Top 20 song "Here I Go Again" and her Golden Globe-winning role with Tommy Tune in "The Boyfriend," and she claims the prize as the super-est of the supermodels.
After a few seasons judging "America's Next Top Model" in recent years, she returned to modeling, becoming the face of British department store chain Marks & Spencer. These days she's also hawking her new book, "A Guide to Looking and Feeling Fabulous Over Forty," so we can all experience the "Twiggy effect."
Janice is the self-proclaimed First Supermodel. She says she coined the phrase when her agent said one day, "You're not Superman" and she replied, "No, I'm a Supermodel." But this claim is highly disputed, as many fashion historians assign the title instead to Twiggy, Cheryl Tiegs, or other pre-Dickinson glamour girls.
Lately Janice has revived her career with a string of reality TV projects, ranging from her 2005 appearance on "The Surreal Life" to four seasons judging "America's Next Top Model." She currently chronicles her professional life on her own show, "The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency." Tune in next season as she bestows her "wisdom" on the next round of up-and-coming supermodels.
Cheryl was the ultimate '70s supermodel: she had squeaky clean, all-American good looks, and she looked hot in a bathing suit (anyone who had her bikini poster hanging on their wall can attest to that). She looked so good in a bathing suit that she was on the cover of the "Sports Illustrated" Swimsuit Issue three times (1970, 1975, and 1983) and gained notoriety for accidentally revealing a little too much to some photographers when she was posing in an all-white suit.
These days, Cheryl's still putting herself out there as a model, as well as appearing on the Ed Begley, Jr., series "Living With Ed," hawking her own wig line for Revlon, and judging models "on the inside" on the reality show "True Beauty."
Cindy Crawford was just 15 when she was discovered. The high school valedictorian almost went on to become a chemical engineer (she won a scholarship to Northwestern but dropped out after only one semester). Instead, she took her famous mole to the covers of "Elle," "Allure," and "Cosmopolitan."
During the '80s and '90s Cindy was on top of the fashion world. She was the first of her supermodel buddies to pose for "Playboy," she starred in one of cable's first "reality" shows ("MTV's House Of Style"), and dated Richard Gere. It almost makes you forget her terrible flick "Fair Game." Almost. These days Cindy's pushing her own line of melon extract-packed skin care (although, don't be fooled, ladies, Cindy admits that she maintains her looks with Botox and collagen) and the Cindy Crawford Home Collection furniture line.
During her 36-year and counting modeling career, Christie has appeared on over 500 magazine covers, including three consecutive cover shots for the "Sports Illustrated" Swimsuit Edition (1979, 1980, 1981) and the best-selling issue of "Life" ever. She also was the easy-breezy-beautiful face of CoverGirl for 20 years, from 1976 to 1996.
To some, however, she might be best known for her brief music video career as Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl" and the musician's future ex-wife. Recently, Christie became an ex-wife again, enthralled in a seemingly endless and super-bitter divorce from architect Peter Cook, who notoriously had an affair with their teenage assistant.
Christie recently returned to CoverGirl to help market a new line of cosmetics for women over 40 (we'll use them faithfully, she looks great at 52!)
Czech-born Paulina started modeling in 1980 with "SI" covers, swimsuit calendars, and "Playboy" and "GQ" photo spreads (semi-clothed and nude, respectively). But the event that skyrocketed her to supermodel status? Signing a six-figure deal with Estée Lauder in the highest-paying modeling contract ever at the time, which transformed her from swimsuit babe to sophisticated European uber-fashionista (marriage to Cars rocker Ric Ocasek helped raise her profile as well).
These days, Paulina has taken over the fourth "America's Next Top Model" judge seat from Twiggy, after a short, but sweet season on "Dancing With The Stars" (she was the first star to get kicked off).
14-year-old Kate Moss was in an airport coming back from a trip to the Bahamas when she was discovered. The little waif was a shocker on the runways, which were at the time littered with such "curvy" supermodels as Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell. But Kate made heroin chic hip and profitable, dating Johnny Depp along the way.
These days Kate is more famous for controversy than catwalks. Allegations of drug use swirl around her, not helped by the fact that her most recent ex-boyfriend is the often-incarcerated, seemingly-always-high lead singer of Baby Shambles, Pete Doherty. Kate lands and loses more endorsement contracts than most supermodels could ever dream of.
But does she care? Doesn't seem like it. And besides, she has a plan B. She talks of forming a duo, the Mossys, with her latest rock star love, Jamie Hince of the Kills.
Naomi Campbell was making music videos long before she was a model, appearing in one for Bob Marley's "Is This Love?" at the age of seven. She wasn't the first black supermodel (that credit goes to Donyle Luna), but she was the first to spin the gig into an industry.
Naomi branched out from the runways and went back to the world of music videos (most memorably appearing in George Michael's "Freedom"). Then she went into the recording studio to record a duet with Vanilla Ice and a song for Quincy Jones. She even "wrote" a novel called "Swan." Campbell later admitted she didn't have time to actually write a book, so she just slapped her name on something that Caroline Upcher penned. And she became a fragrance designer, although somehow we get the feeling Naomi probably just slapped her name on this one too.
These days, Naomi is more famous for a different kind of slapping. Since 2000, Campbell has been repeatedly charged with and/or convicted of assault, usually with some kind of mobile device. So if you see her with a cell phone in her hand and fire in her eyes, walk the other way.
Heidi might just be the best-known supermodel of this era, due to her Emmy-nominated hostess gig on Bravo's "Project Runway." She's come a long way from her days in Germany, where she got her start by entering a magazine contest. The prize was an appearance on a late-night talk show. This led to a modeling contract and started her on the path to Victoria's Secret Angel status.
In 2008 she came in second on Forbes' list of "The World's 15 Top-Earning Supermodels," just behind Gisele Bundchen. She can be seen each season on "Project Runway" as well as on "Germany's Next Top Model" which she coproduces with Tyra Banks.
Tyra Banks was an instant sensation when she hit the Parisian runways as a teen, booking more shows in one week than any other newcomer before her. Catwalks and covers followed, until she reached the pinnacle of supermodel success, becoming the first African-American woman to grace the cover of the "Sports Illustrated" Swimsuit Issue (she'd also be the first on "GQ" and the "Victoria's Secret" catalog).
But Tyra had another calling. So in 2005, she gave up modeling to focus on TV. No stranger to the small screen (after all, she'd made appearances on "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air" and "Space Ghost Coast To Coast"), Tyra decided to become the new Oprah and new Mark Burnett rolled into one. The results? The Tyra Banks talk show, where she chats about women's weight issues and interviews Presidential candidates.
Ever seen Barack Obama look uncomfortable? We hadn't either, until he visited Tyra. She's also on a roll with fashion-themed reality shows: "America's Next Top Model," "Stylista," and "True Beauty."