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nss 90s: the decades most iconic models

From "Queen" Kate Moss to the "Black Venus" Naomi Campbell, from the chameleonic Linda Evangelista to the aristo-chic Stella Tennant

nss 90s: the decades most iconic models  From Queen Kate Moss to the Black Venus Naomi Campbell, from the chameleonic Linda Evangelista to the aristo-chic Stella Tennant

The 90s are the years of super top models. From the "Queen" Kate Moss to the "Black Venus" Naomi Campbell, from the chameleon Linda Evangelista to the aristo-chic Stella Tennant, all are revered as goddesses, undisputed icons in the fashion world, young and beautiful women with dizzying fees and a private life like a Hollywood star.

Parading arm in arm for Gianni Versace and all the biggest brands, they are the protagonists of the music videos of the pop stars of the moment, like George Michael (Freedom! 90), Madonna, Michael Jackson or Bon Jovi, occupy each magazine and also invade the world of TV, starting with MTV.

They are called Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford, Kate Moss, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington, the "big six", but also Stella Tennant, Amber Valletta, Elle Macpherson, Nadja Auermann, Carla Bruni, Hannelore Knuts, Eva Herzigova, Milla Jovovich, Esther Cañadas, Carolyn Murphy, Stephanie Seymour, Shalom Harlow...

We have chosen those that are impossible to forget.


Kate Moss

Kate Moss is, probably, the most loved model of all time. Anyone who has met her speaks of her unique, magnetic charm that makes it seem, things are especially done by her, even the most unique and exceptionally banal act. Such a powerful charisma is contained in a just minute physique that, when she appears on the world fashion scene, changes its aesthetics, changes the taste on women, the concept of beauty and becomes the symbol of the new that advances.

After years of sinuous supermodels, statuesque and unreachable like Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer, here a young, slim girl with an immature face and an androgynous physique, soon becomes the absolute main protagonist of fashion.

She is so new that, after seeing her on the runway, the New York Times describes her talking about waif look, a crumpled, almost defenseless look.

Discovered at the age of 14 at the JFK airport by Sarah Doukas, who is literally captured by that bitter and unconventional beauty, she became famous two years later thanks to Corinne Day's photo shoot "The 3rd Summer of Love" for The Face magazine. The definitive boom arrives in 1993 when she poses for the campaign of the Obsession perfume by Calvin Klein, a combination of the American brand that consecrates her to the face of the decade.

She collaborates with all the brands that count from Alexander McQueen to Versace, from Prada to Marc Jacobs, from Saint Laurent to Balenciaga; with all the best photographers, from Peter Lindbergh to Juergen Teller, from Richard Avedon to Mario Testino; inspires artists such as Lucian Freud or Marc Quinn who depicts the model in a golden statue, the largest since ancient Egypt.

Everyone loves her and probably there is not even a bad picture of Moss in the whole world.

No scandal has ever altered her fame, not the controversial fashion trend "chic heroin" or the alleged anorexia or the true "cocaine affair". 

Her rock and roll relationships with the Neapolitan photographer Mario Sorrenti, with Johnny Depp or Pete Doherty and her hobo chic cool style, do nothing but fuel her fame.

Perhaps without this fawn-eyed girl who only wanted to leave Croydon (her hometown), the 1990s as we know it, would not even exist.


Linda Evangelista

Born in 1965, Canadian, but Italian by birth, Linda Evangelista remains in the Olympus of the first supermodels in history, together with the colleagues Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell part of the trio called "The Trinity" the three girls who grab the best covers and shows of the nineties.

She dreams of becoming a model ever since she was a child, and thanks to her height of 1.76 meters and her fawn eyes, she is soon noticed in a contest for Miss Teen Niagara and signs a contract with Elite.

Her career took a decisive turn when, at age 23, for a photo shoot for Vogue Italia designed by Peter Lindbergh, she cut her hair. Suddenly the insiders snubbed her and canceled her from 16 shows, then having a change of heart when the hairstyle becomes one of the most copied of the time.

For Linda success follows: more than 700 covers, the iconic "Freedom" video by George Michael, she becomes the muse of Steven Meisel and testimonial for the biggest fashion houses including Chanel, Calvin Klein, Dolce & Gabbana, YSL, Valentino, Prada , Dior, Gianni Versace who defines her as "more fascinating than Nefertiti", but also so beautiful as to be "too unrealistic even for the fashion standards".

She is remembered as the most versatile top model, so much so that she is called "chameleon" for her ability to wear every kind of look as well as for the continuous color change of hair color and "the greatest supermodel of all time" for never having attempted alternative careers.

She makes history for declaring during an interview with Vogue "we (she and Turlington) don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day".

After retiring in 1998, she made a comeback in 2001 and today is officially a full-time mother.


Christy Turlington

Icon of style and elegance, the incarnation of the "less is more" philosophy, Christy Turlington is one of the super top models of the 90s.

Born January 2nd, 1969 in California, from an American father and a Salvadoran mother, she was noticed for the first time by a photographer, while riding in Miami, when she was only 14 years old; at the age of 17 Duran Duran chooses her for the "Notorius" video; but her career became a full-time job only at the age of 18, when she moved to New York. Between the end of the eighties and the following decade she collected more than 500 covers, dominates the world catwalks and becomes the protagonist of the campaigns for Revlon, Missoni and the Eternity perfume by Calvin Klein, Maybelline, Valentino, Chanel, Ferragamo, Oscar de la Renta, Esteè Lauder and many others. The first top model to show off her navel piercing during a fashion show, in 1993, Gianni Versace's muse, with her minimalist style perfectly embodies the spirit of Calvin Klein with whom she will collaborate for many years, the last time for the lines underwear FW 2013-2014.

In those years, despite the millionaire contracts, Christy manages to find time to graduate in art history at New York University, with a thesis in philosophy and comparative religion, her great passions together with yoga.

In 2003, she's walked down the aisle by her friend Bono Vox, she marries actor Edward Burns wearing a John Galliano short-sleeved dress. In 2010 she founded the association Every Mother Counts, which denounces the high mortality rate of women during childbirth and, since then, uses her celebrity to promote charity commitments.


Helena Christensen

Born in Copenhagen on December 25th of '68 to a Danish father and Peruvian mother, she made her debut on the catwalk still a child, won the beauty contest of Miss Denmark in 1987 and, discovered by photographer Friedemann Hauss, gets international attention.

When she arrives in Paris at the age of 19, Kaiser Karl chooses her for the fashion show and Peter Lindbergh wants her on his sets, but the first major advertising campaign is for Gianni Versace who calls her "the most beautiful body in the world".

Green eyes, high cheekbones and sculptural physique throw her into the supertop Olympus. Everybody wants her: Chris Isaak in the video for Wicked Game, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, Dazed & Confused, big brands like Chanel and Victoria's Secret, Patrick Demarchelier, Fabrizio Ferri or Herb Ritts that puts her in the iconic Pirelli Calendar of 1994.

As a young girl she dreams of becoming a musician, perhaps for this reason Helena has liaisons with several rock stars, from Michael Hutchence of INXS to Bono up to the Interpol leader with whom she has been engaged since 2008, but also with actors like Leonardo di Caprio or Norman Reedus, the star of The Walking Dead, father of her son Mingus, and with whom she was married to for a short time.

Retired from the catwalks in 2004, she helped found Nylon magazine and began a career as a photographer. Still as beautiful as twenty years ago, Christensen continues to be the protagonist of numerous photo shoots.


Cindy Crawford

Cynthia Ann Crawford was born in DeKalb, Illinois on February 20, 1966. She is a teenager who picks corn cobs in a field when she is noticed by a photographer. The turning point is when she ranks among the 12 finalists of the Elite Model Look competition and leaves the Northwestern University faculty of Chemical Engineering for the catwalk.

The athletic body, measures 86-66-89 and the famous mole on the corner of the lips, which becomes the distinctive feature of her first cover, making her stand out from the crowd, crowning her as the "sexy American girl", star that until present has amassed over 1000 covers, from Elle to Vogue, from Harper's Bazaar to Allure, of all the most important fashion shows and campaigns of prestigious US brands such as Gap, Revlon and Pepsi. First model to pose nude for the magazine Playboy, Cindy becomes the source of inspiration for a song by Prince ("Cindy C."); is inserted by People on the list of the 50 most beautiful women in the world and by Forbes in that of the highest paid top model.

Since the 1990s he has directed several TV programs, acts in negligible films, and stars in music videos for George Michael and Bon Jovi, launching perfumes that bare her name, furnishings and clothing lines.

After the first marriage with Richard Gere, in 1998 she married the entrepreneur Rande Gerber in the Bahamas, with whom she has two kids, Presley and Kaia.

Officially hanging from the nail the top career at the age of 50 (the last ad is for the SS16 of Balmain next to Naomi and Claudia Schiffer), she has passed the scepter of fashion queen to her teenage daughter Kaia.


Naomi Campbell


Just the name. You don’t need anything else and everyone knows who you are talking about. Now as then.

Daughter of a British-Jamaican dancer, she began her career in 1978 at the tender age of 8, appearing in the music video "Is this love" by Bob Marley and, later, also in the film "The Wall" by Pink Floyd. She studied dance at the "Italy Conti Academy of Theater Arts", where she was discovered by the talent scout Beth Boldt, and began to work frantically. At the age of 16 she appears on the cover of Elle UK, makes her debut on the catwalk for Azzedine Alaïa, of which she becomes a muse, and in 1987 Terence Donovan immortalized her for the famous Pirelli calendar.

In the late '80s, Naomi is already a well-known model: in '87 she appears for the first time on the cover of Vogue UK, followed in 1988 by Vogue Paris, and the year after the September issue of Vogue America. Enters the history of fashion as the first black model to appear on the cover of French Vogue and TIME magazine, to show and open in 1997 a Prada show and, again for the Italian brand, the only black top model immortalized in an iconic advertising campaign taken by Steven Meisel.

If in the 80s she is already a well-known professional, the real consecration of Campbell arrives in the following decade when, thanks to the intuition of Meisel, together with Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista forms "The Trinity".

In fact, 1990 opens with the iconic black and white photo shoot created by Peter Lindbergh for the cover of Vogue UK, where Cindy Crawford and Tatjana Patiz are added to the beautiful three.

Her ebony skin, almond eyes and an unmistakable, sinuous and feline stride, similar to that of a panther, gives her the best catwalks in New York, Milan, and Paris; the glossy pages of fashion magazines; music videos by Michael Jackson, Madonna, George Michael, boyfriends like Robert de Niro and Eric Clapton; unforgettable shots such as the sequence of Peter Lindbergh in which she dances like Josephine Baker on the beach of Deauville for Vogue Italia or the wonderful composition of Jean-Paul Goude in which Naomi runs with a cheetah for Harper's Bazaar U.S.

From the commitment to the side of Nelson Mandela to the most exclusive parties with the best friend, the colleague Kate Moss, from the laughter with Grace Jones to the whims of diva and the fury against the assistants, the life of Naomi is extraordinary and she is not only the "queen of the catwalk", but a real superstar.


Claudia Schiffer

«She combined a good dose of sweet, innocent sensuality with a full awareness of her charm», explains Ellen Von Unwerth, the photographer who in 1989 launched her as a Brigitte Bardot “doppelganger” in a campaign for Guess.

Blonde, statuesque and with an explosive femininity, she becomes "the Ultimate Chanel It Girl of the '90s", ironic if you think that, as a child, because of the X legs, the protruding bottom and the waving gait, they mocked her calling Claudia "duck".

One evening in 1987 she was noticed by a talent scout in a nightclub in Düsseldorf and found herself catapulted to Paris, ready to get her revenge on all those who did not trust her.

Her success is resounding, made up of hundreds of catwalks, dozens of advertising campaigns and over 1,000 magazine covers: muse of Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, transformed into Anita Ekberg by Arthur Elgort for Valentino, pin up for Guess, dressed in a miniskirt silver or completely naked for Versace.

Punctual, organized, responsible, does not like parties after parties. Her life, compared to that of the other tops of the time is boring, studded with no scandal and few flirts with Bon Jovi, Peter Gabriel, Prince Albert of Monaco and the magician David Copperfield.

Of the 90s Schiffer remembers: «There is no formula, we were all so different. I think we found ourselves at the center of a revolution, with some creators like Versace, Lagerfeld and Dolce & Gabbana who transformed a machine for "technicians" into a pop phenomenon. A similar reversal today is causing social media, which has made the story as important as and more than what is done».


Eva Herzigova

 As stunning today as in the '90s, Eva Herzigova looks like a fascinating vampire of which time passes by, but has forgotten to leave a trace.

Engaged at the age of 16 after winning a beauty contest in Prague, the Czech model is already the face of Guess, when she paralyzes the international traffic with the "Hello Boys" campaign for Wonderbra in 1994. So sexy in the shot of Ellen von Unwerth it increases sales of the lingerie brand by 41% and, in 2011, to be elected "the most iconic advertising image of all time".

Often compared to Marilyn Monroe, Eva is one of the original angels of Victoria's Secret and one of the most famous faces of the fashion industry, protagonist of campaigns and covers for Christian Dior, Giorgio Armani, Vivienne Westwood, Vogue, Elle, iD and many others.

Despite two husbands (the first is Tico Torres, Bon Jovi's drummer), three children and some films, her modeling career has never ended.


Nadja Auermann

Nadja Auermann enters the history of fashion for the very long legs (112 cm from the femur to the heel) and for the unforgettable photographic services created by Helmut Newton, of which she is the muse, in which she appears sensually disordered, a victim of murder or disabled.

A Berliner, born in the German capital on March 17, 1971, by two bank employees, she is noticed by a talent scout in a brewery where she works as a waitress and at 19 she moved to Paris to become a model.

180 cm tall, blonde, skinny, with two cat eyes and diaphanous skin arrives while the grunge aesthetic is waning, ready to embody a sexy, glamorous, icy femininity reminiscent of Marlene Dietrich, Jean Harlow and the mysterious divas of the years Hollywood Gold.

She works for Chanel, Christian Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino, Prada, Armani, Versace, George Michael wants her in the video clip of the song "Too Funky", in 1994 she is among the 50 best women in the world of People's ranking and among the top ten of Time's chart, for the Louis Vuitton show in 2008, is one of the disturbing nurses inspired by Richard Prince's paintings.

So Nadja comments on her versatility: "I can seem very sexy or not at all, sophisticated or like a child. Being a model is like being an actress."

Now a mother of two children, she no longer poses.


Kristen McMenamy

"I hypnotized the public by making it believe I'm beautiful."

There is all the philosophy of his way of being a model in these words of Kristen McMenamy, one who loves to describe herself as the "queen of anti-fashion fashion".

In fact, with her "pale vampire and androgynous features", shaved eyebrows, her slim figure, androgynous and her unusual face, the American model is the perfect example of how strong personality can be decisive for the success.

Bad or beautiful? This her audience wondered about her, a photo shoot and a catwalk after another helped to redefine a new era of beauty.

"She is modern fashion, which is not to be obsessed with beauty but with life, personality, vitality, the new face of beauty for the '90s" says Karl Lagerfeld.

Born December 12, 1964 in Easton, Pennsylvania, from an early age decides she wants to be a model. Her potential is soon recognized by Eileen Ford who makes her sign the first contract. Then came the debut campaigns for Gérard Darel, Jil Sander and, in the '90s, those for Fendi, Chanel, Versace, Calvin Klein and Karl Lagerfeld.

Spellbinding, she immediately captures the attention of the most famous photographers including Richard Avedon, Terry Richardson, Steven Meisel and Helmut Newton, but also Miles Aldridge, her husband for 16 years.

Each of her photos is the result of a theatrical performance, now as then, as in her shots in the grunge version with Naomi or the mermaid images made by Tim Walker in 2013 for W magazine remain unforgettable.

Listening again today Kristen's words are a mantra to be repeated all the time:

"I am defining a new ideal of feminine beauty, but only because everyone is beautiful. The fashion industry and the media dictate the way girls feel about themselves and that's the ideal woman even though 99.999 percent of the world doesn't look like that, doesn't look like Cindy Crawford. Doesn't have the perfect shape. The only reason I hope that I'm the new definition of beauty is that I represent the individual. I represent the idea of being happy with who you are. Stop the facelifts and nose jobs and breast jobs. And you know what? I have hypnotized the public into believing I am beautiful. And anyone can do that. It's mind over matter."


Amber Valletta


Perhaps the most distracted people do not remember her name, but her face and her black and white shot with angel wings are among the most Instagrammed images even today.

Amber Valletta is definitely back in the Olympus of the 90s top models.

The model, often described as the ideal American girl, even if she actually has a mix of origins (Italian and Portuguese, English, German and Cherokee) has a vague Hitchockian allure that makes her gain 13 times for the cover of Vogue America and in 1999, again according to the magazine, the appointment among the "Muse Moderne" of the fashion of the new millennium.

Especially loved by the Versace family, she works for all international fashion houses, including Alberta Ferretti, Valentino, Calvin Klein, Christian Dior, Gucci, Michael Kors, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana and Donna Karan.

At the same time as a career in fashion, she worked in the film industry.


Esther Canadas

For Donna Karan, who has entrusted her with several advertising campaigns, she is The Face. For the rest of the world she is the girl with the magnetic face, the eyes of ice, the long hair and the perennially sulky lips.

When Esther Cañadas enters fashion, in the mid-90s, with a charm that mixes hippie and sexy and the fame of man-eaters, no one can resist them.

Driven by her mother, she becomes a great top model, seducing brands like Donna Karan, Dolce & Gabbana, Givenchy, Gucci, Chanel, Valentino, Calvin Klein, Victoria's Secret, Alexander McQueen, Yves Saint-Laurent, Burberry, Prada, Tommy Hilfiger, Moschino ...

There is a moment in the nineties in which she, along with her first husband, the beautiful Dutch model Mark Vanderloo occupies all the major catwalks and covers.

Probably one of the most beautiful couples of models of all time.


Stella Tennant

"If I make you famous, I want a bottle of my favorite perfume." These are the words pronounced by Isabella Blow to the then unknown Stella Tennant in 1993.

The legendary editor and talent scout discovers the girl while she studies sculpture at the Winchester School of Art and hires her for the iconic "Babes in London" service for British Vogue.

Immediately after Steven Meisel calls her for the campaign of Versace with the top Linda Evangelista and Karl Lagerfeld crowns her new face of Chanel with an exclusive contract.

Tall, with short hair and androgynous, Stella has an aristocratic air inherited from the uncles, the Duke and the Duchess of Devonshire, and an austere appearance that has given her a myriad of covers and campaigns, perfect for the iconic minimalist designers of the decade such as Calvin Klein and Helmut Lang, but also for Burberry. The British brand, at the end of the 90s, photographed her while pregnant and with her belly in the foreground in an intimate portrait for the campaign of her perfume.

According to Anna Wintour "In the fashion world, Tennant has always stood for individuality and authenticity and the substance of her life—wholesome and creative—proves that sometimes an image can be founded in reality".

Although Tennant announced her retirement in 1998, she often returned to work for several brands, from Prada to McQueen, from Yohji Yamamoto to Givenchy, from Louis Vuitton to Celine.


Milla Jovovich

Defining Milla Jovovich as a model is reductive, because, right away, the girl who comes from Ukraine has joined a career in fashion, adventures in cinema and even an excursion into music.

Minute and of a devastating beauty, she is not only a top that achieved success in the 90s, but is one of the faces and characters that shaped the decade.

She alternates in films such as "Dazed and Confused" or "The Fifth Element" by Luc Besson (her first husband and Pygmalion), to the lens of Richard Avedon, Paolo Roversi, Herb Ritts, Peter Lindbergh, to the campaigns of Calvin Klein, Versus, Anna Molinari and many others.

Despite the angel's face, Milla embodies, as often shown at the cinema, the spirit of a strong woman, a rebel, contemporary and vintage, the kind we all want to be.