Victoria’s Secret Angels are stunning and you’d be able to see that even without 20/20 vision! However when it comes to the catwalk queens of yesterday, I’m sorry but todays models couldn’t hold a candle to them – and the lashings of hair lacquer has nothing to do with it! Cindy, Christy, Claudia and co. are the original cover girls whose names were on everyone’s lips. Back in the 1990s, the Supermodel phenomenon was really taking off. Cindy Crawford said in an interview that she hated the term ‘Supermodel’ but love it or hate it, that’s what they were. Teenage girls used to stick posters of models up on their walls and fall asleep every night, dreaming of being discovered as a model and following in the footsteps of their idols. Teenage boys used to stick posters of models up on their walls and fall asleep every night dreaming of discovering a girl who looked like their pin up and following in her footsteps all the way to her front door!
I was madly in love with New Kids On The Block and couldn’t find a pop band to measure up when they disbanded, so I didn’t move on to the ‘next big thing’ as most teenage girls did. Therefore supermodels became my pop stars. My interest (or obsession depending on how you looked at it) began when I was about thirteen and I started reading my school friend’s fashion magazines. It wasn’t long before I was buying my own. I loved learning about fashion, the industry, the designers but most of all the princesses of the runway. It was a great way to discover what Naomi, Elle and their friends were up to.
Their wasn’t a single supermodel whose height, eye colour and vital stats I didn’t know. I knew how they were discovered; where they came from; which agency they were with; their interests etc. I even looked forward to watching the World Music Awards held in Monaco every year because of the numerous appearances made by supermodels – and of course I looked forward to the musical appearances! I watched every documentary about the fashion industry and modelling reality TV shows such as Babewatch and Model Behaviour. and I was always happiest when I saw that the latest edition of Top Model was available.
It might sound that as a teenage girl, I had an unhealthy obsession with the whole industry. I can understand that; if I had a teenage daughter, I might be worried. But looking at photos of models didn’t make me want to starve myself. If anything I ate even more – and living without sugar was not an option! I daydreamed about gracing the cover of Vogue, but I knew I was far from model material. I think I was in awe of the lifestyle. I knew that modelling was hard work and that models lived on a plane and were sleep deprived but there were tons of positives: meeting super-hot rock stars; freebies from designers; appearing in music videos; the chance to travel the world; owning a fabulous apartment, and the opportunity to branch out into acting, presenting, design, launching products etc. There’s no denying it; the supermodel lifestyle was fabulous and laden with opportunities.
But it wasn’t just their looks and lifestyles I admired (OK envied!) but their brains as well. That’s right, brains. Most people might think that models have lip-gloss for brains but in order to be a supermodel, there was no way you could rise to the top unless you had something in your head. They had to have good business acumen; successfully liaise with designers and clients; launch products; realise great opportunities, and start to make the move into other areas, whether it’s acting, photography or another part of the fashion industry – unfortunately the only thing short about models is their shelf life! it also helps a great deal if their bilingual as there is a great deal of travel and international dealings involved. I read an interview with Czech supermodel, Eva Herzigova, where she revealed that when she first got into modelling, someone would ask her in English for her name and she would just nod though she is now fluent in French and English. Go Eva! In a nutshell, you had to be more than just a clothes horse – you had to be a brand.
I can’t decide who my favourite supermodel was. Could it have been Nadja Auermann, known for having the longest legs in the business? Or Karen ‘smoulder’ Mulder? Or maybe the talented Veronica Webb who showed that models could do more than just pose in front of the camera? Ms. Crawford, the original supermodel businesswoman? Or the wholesome, sweet-as-apple-pie Nikki Taylor? Perhaps I just loved all of them!
There’s no denying that today’s models are beautiful and work just as hard. But I know that they’re successful top models, I don’t feel they are Supermodels – not like the supermodels that I grew up with and admired. The Supers of my generation had that certain something that generated a tanker-load of interest. Most teenagers I know hardly mention models. I really do believe that the Supermodel phenomenon is a thing of the past and a key element of the decade that was the 1990s.