Current Obsession: Supermodels

Perhaps it’s because it reminds me of a time when women weren’t just women, they were the ultimate glamazons – wearing Versace and Alaia whilst they were photographed in a power suit, or a swimsuit, looking incredible with massive hair and perfect makeup (or at least Vogue would have us believe). It was the time when more was never enough and there was no such thing as excess. Models like Elle McPherson, Stephanie Seymour and Cindy Crawford had the bodies that women (and men) admired. They had boobs and hips and waists and muscles and looked like they could crush a small car without flinching. Or without crushing their Christian Lacroix taffeta ball gown in the meantime.

I love them because their faces encapsulate my youth – a time when my bedroom walls were plastered with their faces. Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington in Chanel in St Tropez. Claudia Schiffer’s tiny waist was clad in acid wash for Guess jeans and the lens of Ellen Von Unwerth, Cindy C cavorted on the beach for Herb Ritts and Arthur Elgort, and Elle McPherson was on the cover of Time. I loved them then because they were the ultimate in all that a woman could be – strong, and powerful and beautiful in an Amazonian but still attainable way. There was a wholesomeness to them, a girl next door quality that also promised a life beyond your wildest dreams. They were business women, who built empires and fortunes and offered a world where your wardrobe was Chanel and Gaultier, and you partied with Madonna at Gianni Versace’s mansion. They were the original superstars, the top models who reinvented the glamour of the celebrity world we know today.

Having been lucky enough to work with a lot of them whilst in London (Claudia, Yasmin Le Bon, Kate Moss, Elle McPherson, Kristen McNenamy), I can attest to the fact that getting older does not mean losing anything in any way. If anything, it’s about gaining – wisdom. Self knowledge and grace. And designers and advertisers are listening, as the original Supermodels speak to us in a way that a fourteen year old never can. Harpers Bazaar UK has five of the original Supers on their latest cover – and let me tell you, if I look anywhere near that good at forty five I won’t be complaining.

And now as we all grow older, and women my age look ahead to their middle thirties and beyond to their forties and even fifties, middle age is being completely reinvented by them too. They are still beautiful, and powerful, and strong. Their empires have grown and away from the camera they now helm massively successful businesses and prove that women can have children and fortunes and wealth and beauty. They provide a stunning antidote not only to traditional notions of what happens as you age, but also to the legions of undernourished teenagers that currently populate our magazines and runways. May the tide turn permanently and bring back real women. Maybe we can have a return to the ideal of the amazon woman from my girlhood, where women had power and strength and beauty and grace. Long live the Supermodels.

Here is a beautiful trailer from the 1991 film by Peter Lindbergh, simply entitled “Models”. The Supers at the height of their beauty:


4 Replies to “Current Obsession: Supermodels”

  1. I can totally relate to this. The era that we’re in now plays a huge part in that longing for a return to that time. Right now everyone is down sizing and stream lining it seems. I’d love to go out shopping and spending a hellacious amount of money on clothing and accessories but it’s nearly unfathomable at the moment. When we’re not able to do so I believe we find some consolation in being able to pick up those glossy magazines and just daydream. As I type this I can’t help but think of Lady Gaga’s monologue in her current video (“Marry The Night”) in which she talks about her past and her recreation of it by imagining it in a different way and making it more beautiful than it was, likening it to an unfinished painting. I think we do that same thing,just in the present, when we look at the “Supers”.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. I think there is a huge element of nostalgia in seeing those familiar faces (from a booming global economy!) and more than a touch of escapism in our abiding love for the Supers.

  2. I totally agree with you!
    I grew up in Milan and throughout my teenage years the city was Supermodels favorite catwalk!
    I used to idolize women like Cristy Turlington and Linda Evangelista because they, not only looked beautiful, they exuded confidence, power and and aura of success. They looked healthy and sporty and they were hardly at the centre of scandals.
    Looking at them now, so beautifully self-centered and naturally gorgeous, it makes me hope that when I am in my forties I too can still be young and full of youthful, yet more poised energy!
    Long live the Supermodels and bright red lips!

    1. Glad you agree – if you grew up in Milan you saw it all first hand! Growing up here in Sydney (you can only imagine how unglamorous it was here in the 80’s, it still makes me shudder) the Supermodels were my escape route and opened a door to a whole new world – where Christy Turlington glided by on a gondola or strode the roofs of Paris in Lagerfeld couture. Images that still take your breath away. It’s so nice to see those models back in full force.

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