There are models, and then there are supermodels. These super hot glamazons burst onto the international runways of Paris, Milan and New York back in the 1990s, with six women raising the modelling bar to the extreme.
Once girls, now goddesses, they have captivated us ever since with their sass, their style and their take-no-prisoners attitude in an industry known for its churn 'em and burn 'em attitude. These 90s models have serious staying power!
These days, 'The Big Six' are back in the spotlight, sought after by the giants of fashion once again.
It's first names only for the muses who brought to life the visions of fashion luminaries like John Galliano, Karl Lagerfeld and Gianni Versace. Claudia, Linda, Cindy, Christy, Kate and Naomi are the big six supermodels of the 90s that defined a generation.
Karl Lagerfeld and Gianni Versace. Claudia, Linda, Cindy, Christy, Kate and Naomi are the big six supermodels of the 90s that defined a generation.
Let's take to the catwalk and relive the reign of The Big Six, their defining moments in fashion history, and their indelible stamp on pop culture, then and now...
"I don't get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day." If anyone can capture the notoriety of the top models of the 90s in a single sentence, it' s these words uttered by Linda Evangelista. Her bold, ever-changing style earned her the nickname "The Chameleon," and she exuded a cool, icy style.
In 1990, Linda appeared with fellow supermodel Christy Turlington on the cover of British Vogue alongside the headline, "Perfect Partnerships," shot by legendary fashion photographer, Patrick Demarchelier. The pair stunned in glamorous beach outfits with unexpected twists like a sequined one-piece swimsuit teamed with studded jackets. She famously dated hot Holllywood property of the day, Kyle MacLauchlan who was also enjoying the height of his fame as the lead in the hit series 'Twin Peaks.'
Naomi Campbell broke all records as one of the first women of colour to hit the fashion game, big-time. She stood tall with her knock-out long limbs, megawatt confidence and stunning smile, an edgy contrast to the blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauties the world was used to seeing on billboards.
Naomi's striking looks struck a chord with millions of young women who had rarely seen black women represented in the glamorous and elite world of international modelling.
Naomi was scouted as a schoolgirl in the UK and appeared on the cover of British Elle in April 1986 at the age of 15. The following year, British Vogue put her on the cover, their second-ever black covergirl. In 1998, Naomi became the first black model ever to appear on the cover of Vogue Paris.
The Pepsi Girl
Any list of the 90s supermodels is incomplete without the vixen in the red Versace dress who wowed at the 63rd Academy Awards. Cindy Crawford is no stranger to setting trends.
In 1992, a Super Bowl ad she starred in for Pepsi became an instant classic. Her red Lamborghini, tank top, cutoff shorts, and iconic beauty mark were unforgettable. Fans would shout "Pepsi!" at her while walking down the street shortly after the commercial aired, and girls dressed up as her for Halloween. Cindy was married to Pretty Woman heart-throb Richard Gere for five years in the 90s, an original celebrity power couple.
Now happily married to entrepreneur Rande Gerber, the couple have two children; son Presley with the chiseled-jaw serious good looks, and daughter Gaia who is already following in her famous Mum's catwalk footsteps with some impressive modelling credentials of her own at only 17 years of age.
The Model Student
Often considered the most classic beauty of the pack, Turlington had an aquiline beauty and delicate limbs. "We were kind of always described as this pack. And I didn't like that. I wanted to be an individual," Christy Turlington told Forbes magazine. She didn't feel "connected" with being one of the top models of her generation and found her own identity by continuing her studies, only modelling after school and during the summer breaks when she was aged 14 to 16. She once told New York Magazine, "It's difficult to relate to what I do and what I've done.
Certainly, when I go to school in the morning and there are ten buses that go by with Calvin Klein underwear ads, it's weird." Still modelling to this day, Turlington is married to actor Ed Burns and they have two children. She is actively involved in global charity work and often runs marathons around the globe to support and publicise her non-profit foundation "Every Mother Counts."
Not just a pretty face, this one has clout- Turlington was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in 2014.
The street cred of these top four supermodels was sealed at the start of the decade following their appearance in George Michael's unforgettable music video for his hit song "Freedom" in 1990. It starred these four, plus the lower profile Tatjana Patitz, who had all appeared in a now-iconic black and white Peter Lindenbergh photo shoot, which graced the cover of British Vogue earlier that year.
It featured a platinum blonde Evangelista, a sleek and cool Turlington and smouldering, sultry sex bomb Crawford alongside a curly haired Campbell conjuring 60s retro attitude. All lip-synced a verse of the song and were shot in arthouse black and white.
The Quintessential Guess Girl
Guess jeans struck it lucky when the then-unknown German model Claudia Schiffer stepped into the casting office. The super statuesque platinum blonde's cool good looks drew comparisons with Brigitte Bardot and was the answer to their dreams of faithfully recreating the old Hollywood style of the 1950s movies.
Between 1989 and 1991, Claudia starred in six campaigns for Guess. She would return to Guess in 2012 with the words "30 Sexy Years!" written in red over black and white images celebrating her iconic campaigns.
Schiffer has appeared on the cover of over 1,000 magazines throughout her career, and holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the most magazine covers. At the height of her fame, Schiffer dated high profile magician David Copperfield, before settling down in the English countryside with husband, film director Matthew Vaughn.
They have three children together.
The Heroin Chic
In 2018, the phrase "Heroin Chic" probably sends shivers down your spine. But back in the 90s, it was a phrase thrown around with breathless excitement by fashion editors across the globe.
It was the hollowed-out, mangy look that catapulted skinny Brit teenager Kate Moss to instant 'Heroin Chic' fame. It came about at a time when heroin was a hot fashion topic, with the drug becoming popular among the wealthy crowd, and with it emerged a pop culture that explored and examined addiction. It was a time when super-hot meant super-skinny and dark circles under the eyes and pasty complexions were celebrated, not airbrushed.
The all-American lifestyle brand, Calvin Klein, pushed the boundaries with campaigns starring Moss in the 90s based on this edgy new look. In a fashion first, the fashion house sent Moss on holiday to the Virgin Islands alone with then-boyfriend and photographer Mario Sorrenti to capture the raw and sparse black and white fashion images which went on to represent one of the most talked-about campaigns in history.
Moss has courted controversy in the decades since, once outraging community groups with her quote "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." After relationships with multiple bad-boy rockers and actors such as Johnny Depp, Lenny Kravitz and Pete Doherty, a short-lived marriage to grubby rocker Jamie Hince broke up quietly after four years. Moss is now loved up with German aristo-toff Count Nikoli von Bismark, (another) photographer who is 13 years Moss's junior.
This waif-like model who has managed to remain at the pinnacle of the fashion scene for two decades clearly hasn't lost any of her mojo.
Honorable Mention: Elle Macpherson
Elle Macpherson symbolised everything fabulous about Aussie beach casual chic. Playful, fit, toned, tanned and confident, she personified everything every female dreamed of being, and her phenomenal physique quickly earned her the enviable moniker 'The Body.'
Macpherson was discovered at 18 while on vacation in Colorado. Shortly after, she starred in an ad for Tab Cola in a red bikini. This was the turning point in her career and foreshadowed one of the most legendary Sports Illustrated covers ever printed.
She went on to feature five times on the cover of the coveted Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
To this day, Elle maintains the record of the most appearances on the cover of the Swimsuit Issue.
She has proven that 'The Body' also has an impressive mind, expanding her ventures to include acting (who can forget Sirens in 1994?), hosting and business interests in lingerie, skin care and health shakes.