The Rise and Fall of the Supermodel

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

An article written by Olivia Goldhill (The Telegraph) suggested that supermodels are a thing of the past and are 'just so nineties'. With the increase of celebrity supermodels like Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid I guess we could say this is in fact true? Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford were all big household names through out the 90's, appearing in almost every high end fashion ad and magazine covers and I guess this was easy for them? The only famous faces seen in ads have been actresses like Margot Robbie (Calvin Klein), Jennifer Lawrence (Dior) and Keira Knightley (Chanel). Is there someone or something to blame for this? Maybe the rise of social media?

Anna Wintour in 1989 took the controversial step in changing the girls that appeared on the cover American Vogue - Wintour very bravely replaced supermodels on the cover with actresses and women with other talents. Personally, I would prefer to see the likes of Adele on the cover of Vogue than a women who fits a specific 'stereotype' of the typical supermodel. But then how are these women (models) supposed to make a name for themselves if they cannot land these huge campaigns and covers? Surely were are asking them to conform to the stereotype of a supermodel, by asking them to totter along the catwalk in high heels and with their skinny legs and curve-less bodies (probably a tad excessive) instead of using their talents elsewhere.

People are not happy with the likes of Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid being referred to as supermodels - this is the reason for me writing this post. By definition a supermodel is 'a successful fashion model who has reached the status of a celebrity' therefore the term does apply to both Jenner and Hadid. You cannot deny them the title due to wealth, family, celebrity status and social media following. 

Ex-Supermodel Cindy Crawford has been vocal on this very topic of supermodels being in decline commenting that "Models are not really getting covers now and they’re not getting the big cosmetics contracts and that’s where the money is. It’s actresses and singers and reality TV people." I happen to disagree with this - Kendall Jenner found fame in the reality TV show Keeping Up with the Kardashian's alongside her family and has landed the September cover of American Vogue, walked for Victoria's Secret and is the face of Estée Lauder. If anything I believe the likes of Kendall, Gigi and Cara have paved the way for new generation of supermodel - especially with their presence and following on social media. These women have power! You can go ahead and argue that these models get castings and contracts due to this all you like, but they can hardly help their popularity and fame? There is clearly a difference between a model in the 90's and the 00's - Social media. 

Remaining on the topic of social media, I headed to Twitter to do a bit of research of my own (only a poll, so hardly what you would call research) asking the simple question seen below. Simple. So, 52% of the people who answered the poll believed Kendall, Gigi, Cara and Kaia ARE in fact supermodels. I was rather taken back by this as I honesty believed that many would answer no. As mentioned, the reason for me writing this post was due to peoples opinion on these women on social media! 

To be honest, these girls are no doubt supermodels in their own right. Claudia Schiffer said "In order to become a supermodel one must be on all the cover all over the world at the same time so that people can recognise the girls." - This isn't necessary as such any more but the likes of Kendall and Gigi are absolutely everywhere in the fashion industry, not just seen on magazines.

Case closed.


  1. Omg Brogan I loved reading this! I agree and disagree with you! I feel like supermodels now are so different to back then but that's how it goes now I guess times are different! I would class them as models rather than supermodels in my mind when I think of a supermodel though Xx

    1. Thank you - I just believe they are different due to the rise of social media. Glad you enjoyed reading honey. Will be checking out your blog now! xo

  2. This was really fascinating. I think like all aspects of life, the fashion industry grows and evolves with time. The supermodel phenomenon of the 90s was quite different than what we know of today. There were different barriers to entry. With the onset of social media, it has democratized the industry-- making it easier for new comers to break into the industry. I think that's a good thing!

    - Maya at


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