HELLO and happy Monday vintage lovers!!!
I spent a good chunk of time researching this post last week thanks to inspiration from NYC Fashion Week, which concluded on Thursday and has crossed the pond to bring its magic & mayhem to the catwalks of London now through Wednesday, September 21st.
I’ve been musing on the “changes” of modeling more and more as I realize how the presentation of fashion is as much vintage as the clothes which were shown on models of a particular era.
The same can be said for the production, merchandising and marketing of clothing from the past. Today, new fashions are marketed by way of social media and the digital age, and designers are creating “capsule collections” for department stores and mainstream brands (cough cough MISSONI FOR TARGET!) to create greater reach via lower price points to the general shopping public.
While our mobile phones and the demand of getting high end fashion for cheap has created greater accessibility to the clothing which was once exclusive only to a privileged set of eyes and/or bank account of envy, the models of the past were arguably more accessible to the mainstream fashion lover than the models who walk the catwalks and grace advertisements today.
It was during a conversation with the owner of designer vintage store FROCK that I first started to discuss how models of the ’80s and ’90s “presented” fashion in a much more personable, friendly and theatrical way.
In simpler terms: We connected with those models.
Unlike the models of today who are selected to look like “clothes hangers” on the runway, models of earlier eras were encouraged to be entertaining, theatrical … even comical! on the runways when wearing the latest designs and were recruited for more video and speaking roles to champion fashion in more ways than just a pretty picture.
The three women pictured above — Cindy Crawford, Iman & Christy Turlington — were SUPERmodels because they breathed LIFE into the clothing and the visuals which captured how women like us could wear these fabulous pieces.
Cindy, Iman and Christy made fashion modeling FUN on the runways, and became household names during the ’80s & ’90s because their passions for life shined beyond just the physical materials of what they were modeling.
Keep reading after the jump for an easy-to-read bio on each supermodel, and to watch footage of them working their personalities on the runway with a healthy mind, body and soul thanks to an approachable, awesome aura.
I hate to knock the models walking the runways today because they’ve honestly done nothing personally wrong to deserve criticism for their style of self. Today’s “trends” with modeling aren’t because of actions taken by the models themselves.
Rather, since the supermodel era of the ’90s there’s been a shift in what “sells” fashions. Before it was personality, but for some reason today the fashion industry has decided skinny, lifeless & expressionless individuals best represent the inspiration needed to drive sales. And again I reiterate: This is no one’s fault but a general consensus which can’t be traced to one true origin of “blame.”
The evolution of fashion modeling is an interesting one: From the prostitute in the ’40s who first wore the “bikini” on the runways [real models refused to show so much skin!] to Twiggy’s expressionless enthusiasm for oh-so-loud ’60s mod to the household names of the ’80s – ’90s supermodels profiled in today’s post — the women and men asked to showcase the clothes have evolved as much as the styles of the clothing itself.
Here’s to models with pretty faces AND personalities … which we all possess, no matter who we are and what we wear. You are beautiful because you are YOU!
CINDY CRAWFORD: AMERICA’S DARLING
AGE TODAY: 45 years old
CLAIM TO FAME: 5 feet 9 inches tall Cindy Crawford was discovered at the age of 16 while — you’re not gonna believe this — picking corn in her Illinois hometown!
Cindy moved to Manhattan at the age of 18 to pursue modeling full time, bringing her sweet mole and American’s sweetheart charm with her to be adored by all until leaving the world of professional modeling behind in the year 2000.
Her most notable appearances — besides the cover of virtually every magazine cover known to the American fashion-forward female — is also as the spokesperson for Pepsi products and host of MTV’s House of Style during the early ’90s. She had a few non-notable appearances in movies & television shows as well — beyond House of Style, her acting career never really took off.
SUPERMODEL STATUS: While Iman and other models of exotic looks were “muses” to designers, Cindy was more of that drop-dead-gorgeous-girl-next-door we all wanted to be best friends with. And for the guys … be our girlfriends!
Cindy has made “hottest” rating lists time and time again, from People to Maxim rankings to everything in between. She was the face of Omega, Maybelline & Clairol cosmetics companies, further expanding just how much a brunette with a cute mole could reach the general American public.
HER PRETTY PERSONALITY: Designer Michael Kors put it best when he said, “Cindy changed the perception of the ‘sexy American girl’ from classic blue eyed blonde to a more sultry brunette with brains, charm, and professionalism to spare.”
The ’70s saw blonde & tan “beach girls” epitomize the classic-girl-next-door looks of America. Cindy brought in a wave of ’80s-girl-tough-chic with that mole. In other words: She was a bit more mysterious, a bit more unique and a bit more just being exactly who she is without reason for concern.
You hardly saw Cindy dressed in anything other than wearable fashion and practical makeup. Her looks weren’t blown-up beauty, but practical prettiness: A look most American females are 110% happy and grateful to achieve.
CINDY: THEN VERSUS NOW
ON THE VINTAGE RUNWAY
HOUSE OF STYLE
IMAN: INTERNATIONAL SUPERSTAR
THE MODEL: Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid
AGE TODAY: 56 years old
CLAIM TO FAME: 5 foot 10 inches tall Somalia-born Iman was discovered by a photographer at the age of 20 while studying at university in Kenya. After moving to the US to pursue a modeling career, she appeared in the pages of Vogue and a few prestigious magazine covers later, shot to instant fame as a model of “super” fame.
SUPERMODEL STATUS: Iman was particularly popular because she broke barriers as one of the first African-born women to rise to the top of modeling ranks in America. Iman has always argued that her looks were nothing special, saying that they were “just like other Somalian girls.”
But it was thanks to these “average” but to us Americans, “exotic” looks that Iman became such a muse to designers and photographers. Halston, Gianni Versace, Calvin Klein, Issey Miyake, Donna Karan and Yves Saint-Laurent turned to the origin of her looks for inspiration on how to carry forward their collections.
She represented an area of the world which most Westerners were unfamiliar — thus, she not only modeled the clothes but inspired the design of them thanks to her culture’s background.
HER PRETTY PERSONALITY: It’s thanks to Iman that mainstream drugstores began carrying an entire line of cosmetics catered to darker skin tones, which she named the eponymous “Iman.” She founded her cosmetics line in 1994 because when modeling, makeup artists never had the right shade for her and were forced to DIY a color by mixing various foundations together to suit.
Iman took her modeling experience and recreated what she learned to satisfy the needs of women in her same predicament, thereby helping to break the beauty barriers experienced by other non-Caucasian women. She’s also the wife of famous rocker David Bowie, with whom they have a daughter.
IMAN: THEN VERSUS NOW
ON THE VINTAGE RUNWAY
CHRISTY TURLINGTON: THE PRINCESS OF LUXURY
THE MODEL: Christy Turlington
AGE TODAY: 42 years old
CLAIM TO FAME: 5 feet 10 inches tall Christy Turlington was a runway model superstar and icon of luxury brands from 1987 to 1994. She wasn’t a household name like Cindy was to the mothers and their daughters of mainstream America during the ’80s – ’90s, but rather a household name to the designers of the runway and their advertising agencies.
SUPERMODEL STATUS: Christy starred in ad campaigns for the biggest names of the day: Missoni, Versace, Valentino and major cosmetic companies like Maybelline during it’s heyday of “Maybe She’s Born With It … Maybe It’s Maybelline” commercials. She was also the official face of Calvin Klein for 20 years from 1987 to 2007.
We remember Christy most though for her strong presence in high fashion editorial spreads. She’s appeared on the cover of 500 magazines in an era when models were sought after for the newsstands, and not he latest “it” celebrity of musical or acting notoriety.
HER PRETTY PERSONALITY: After “leaving” the catwalks in 1994, Christy still walked the streets of NYC … as a student at NYU, where she studied comparative religions and Eastern philosophy.
This interest in health-beauty-life balance inspired entrepreneurial investment in healthy living brands, like a Yoga lifestyle fashion brand and Sundari, an Ayurvedic skincare line.
She’s also partnered with numerous non profits and lent her face to expose humanitarian efforts she supports to a larger audience.