The supermodels of the ’90s are hotter than ever!
NW investigates the staying power of fashion’s all-time favourite faces
Ask any fashionista to name a defining moment in fashion history and they’ll likely land on March 6, 1991.
That day, Gianni Versace sent the Big Four supermodels – Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell – down the catwalk of his Milan Autumn/winter show lip-synching to George Michael’s hit Freedom ’90.
For Tim Blanks, renowned critic and editor-at-large for The Business Of Fashion, that moment marked the first time “the whole notion of the supermodel became utterly inescapable”.
“This is the kind of thing that, when people say, ‘Oh, I miss the supermodels,’ this is the kind of thing they’re talking about,” he says.
“It was a moment when the he power of these women was totally inescapable and All hail the Super Models
Versace capitalised on that by grouping them on the catwalk.
“It was just such a wow moment... These girls, they symbolised a whole era in a way that fashion models never had before.”
Fast-forward to September 22, 2017 and that power was recaptured when Naomi and Cindy – along with fellow ’90s icons Claudia Schiffer, Helena Christensen and Carla Bruni – regrouped to honour Gianni on the 20th anniversary of his murder, by closing his sister Donatella’s Milan Fashion Week show.
“Words cannot describe this moment,” Naomi wrote afterwards on Instagram.
Indeed, emotions ran high following the catwalk reunion. But the dominant feeling shared by the fash pack? A yearning for the past.
“Nostalgia for the supermodel era has never been stronger,” fashion journalist Janelle Okwodu writes for vogue.com.
“With second-generation stars like [Cindy’s daughter] Kaia Gerber capturing the public’s attention and a growing push away from the social media-centric ethos that has dominated casting the last few years, the public seems hungry for models who are reminiscent of the ’90s.”
A lasting legacy
There’s no denying that what’s old is new again.
Yep, while it’s been almost three decades since Naomi, 47, Cindy, 51, Claudia, 47, Helena, 48, and Carla, 49, ruled the runways from Paris to New York, they’ve very much had a resurgence in recent times.
“Who knew that modelling would have got me all the way to 49?” Cindy said back in 2015. “I remember thinking at age 25 that I had, at most, five years left.”
How wrong she was! Now in her 50s, the mother-of-two is as in-demand as ever – gracing covers of Vogue, starring in Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood video and collaborating with denim label RE/DONE.
The same can be said for Naomi, who’s remained a formidable presence in the industry she first joined at just 15.
“I don’t think about age and years, I just do what I do,” Naomi told CNN last year.
“I try to stay within the day and I try to stay positive and enthusiastic about what I commit myself to do.”
Claudia is also riding the wave of nostalgia. It was a full-circle moment for the German beauty in OG supermodels (from left) Carla Bruni, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford and Helena Christensen close the Versace show with a nod to a famous 1994 ad campaign shot by the late Richard Avedon 2012, when she returned as the face of Guess – the very brand that launched her career in 1989.
She, Cindy and NaomiNao were also picked by Balmain’s creative director Olivier Rousteing to front the French fashion house’s Spring/ Summer 2016 campaign.
“Working with them, it’s anothera way than working with the models of today,” Olivier said at the time. “They know their bodies so well. They move at the same time that the camera is moving.”
But while the supers supportedsupp each other through thick andan thin back in the day, there were still hints of diva antics ahead ofo the recent Versace show.
“They have a green room each, but they are running in and out of each other’s rooms all day,” Donatella said before the show.s “And because they walk the runway together, they are arguinga
about who gets to go in the middle, just like the old days.”
No surprises that it was Naomi who nabbed that spot!
Long live the supers
“There will never be anything like the era of the supermodel again,” celeb fashion snapper Peter Lindbergh said back in 2013. “In the beginning, those women were a revolution.”
That’s probably why, to this day, fans and critics hold them in such high regard. Even current It-models like Kendall Jenner and Bella and Gigi Hadid cite the OGS as their main influencers.
And given that anyone with Instagram can call themselves a model these days, it’s all the more reason to respect the ones who made it to the top before the internet and social media.
“We had to earn our stripes and take our stepping stones to get to where we have gotten to accomplish what we have achieved to this date,” Naomi said in 2015, adding that she’d rather be a supermodel than an Insta-girl.
Purchasing power also comes into play with the supers, says New York-based casting director Kristi Mccormick.
“The women who are shopping... can relate to the iconic models,” she says. “When I see a photo of Christy or Claudia, they’re wearing a product or shoes that I could wear, as opposed to putting them on a 16- or 17-year-old girl.”
Adds UK stylist Cristina ArandaGarzon, “There’s a reason why the world is still is obsessed with ’90s supermodels. Brains, beauty and personality – they were so sassy and ahead of their time.
“Muses to artists, musicians and photographers, you can’t deny they played a significant part in cementing that strong ’90s aesthetic.” n
WHERE WERE CHRISTY & LINDA? Two of the original supers were noticeably missing from the Versace “Freedom” tribute. Christy, 48, was in Berlin getting ready to run a 42km marathon, while Linda, 52 – who now focuses on “philanthropic work” over modelling – was spotted looking like just another rugged-up traveller as she caught a flight out of New York on September 24. The Freedom moment! Linda, Cindy, Naomi and Christy close Versace’s 1991 show
After missing the runway reunion, Linda flies under the radar at the airport in New York