The Most Iconic Supermodels of All Time

Muses to designers, faces of ad campaigns, starters of trends—they've done it all.

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In the last century, a handful of models have obtained "super" status, thanks to their prolific work in ad campaigns, on runways, and inside (and on the cover of) magazines. The ones we remember are often the ones who broke barriers, like those who ushered in greater diversity in the industry, and the models who defined beauty and fashion of a specific era (see: '90s supermodels). For those reasons and more, these supermodels are considered the most iconic of all time.

Anna Bayle

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Whether or not Anna Bayle was the "first Asian supermodel," she was deemed as such. Born in Manila and with some early pageant experience, she became one of the highest top models of her day—then retired to become an entrepreneur, real estate broker, and editor.

Kendall Jenner

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You obviously can't separate Kendall Jenner's popularity as a model with her popularity as a media presence (i.e., her role on the various Kardashian shows). But she's been working hard since she was 14, and she's topped the list of highest-paid models more than once.

Alessandra Ambrosio

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Alessandra Ambrosio was a Victoria's Secret Angel for 14(!) years, which is probably what most people are familiar with when they think of her (she was the spokesmodel for their PINK line as well). But she's also modeled for greats like Dior and Armani.

Sondra Peterson

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Sondra Peterson was known for her work in the '50s and '60s, back when modeling was a different profession (and less lucrative, generally). But Peterson, alongside contemporaries like Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy, was a top model who made the cover of a multitude of magazines—including this, for Vogue.

Chanel Iman

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A former Victoria's Secret Angel, Chanel Iman started modeling as a literal tween (12) and became a runner up in the Supermodel of the World competition. She's done a ton of runways and ad campaigns, and she's also a media personality, philanthropist, and actor.

Jerry Hall

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One of the most popular 1970s models in the world, Jerry Hall was in demand in part because of her "look" (very tall at six feet, with luscious blonde hair). She was on a ton of magazine covers and served as muse for artists like Andy Warhol. Her popularity helped make her financially successful, in a way not all models could at the time.

Donyale Luna

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While there's debate about who was actually "the first Black supermodel," Donyale Luna was certainly one of the forerunners as a '60s supermodel. She was a favorite of Andy Warhol and also acted in independent films (this is a still from Satyricon) before passing away tragically at only 33.

Cheryl Tiegs

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If you grew up in the '70s, you may be familiar with Cheryl Tiegs' 1978 "Pink Bikini" poster (it came to be extremely emblematic of the decade). Tiegs was a frequent cover star of Sports Illustrated magazine but she also had lucrative contracts, including with Cover Girl.

Grace Jones

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If you're only familiar with Grace Jones as a singer or actor (she was the best part of the James Bond movie A View to a Kill), she started her professional career at 18 as a model. Her short hair and androgyny—not to mention her bold fearlessness—is an inspiration for the likes of Lady Gaga and Rihanna.

Tatjana Patitz

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Tatjana Patitz bridged the '80s and the '90s in an impressive way, and her career skyrocketed around the turn of the decade with an iconic January 1990 British Vogue cover (alongside Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, and Linda Evangelista) and an appearance in George Michael's "Freedom! '90."

Bella and Gigi Hadid

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It may perhaps be cheating to group these two sister models together (they have very different looks and vibes, so their work is fundamentally quite different), but the two are often vocally supportive of each other and each makes the list of highest-paid models in the world.

Joan Smalls

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Joan Smalls is Puerto Rican, and was the first Latina model to become an Estée Lauder spokesmodel (among many, many other contracts). She started with commercial modeling and then moved to runway work—subsequently modeling for top designers and on editorial shoots.

Brooke Shields

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You may perhaps know Brooke Shields best as an actor (who started her career super-young). She actually started modeling before she was even a year old, and at 14 was the youngest model at the time to appear on a Vogue cover. Amongst others, she appeared in highly popular (and highly controversial) Calvin Klein commercials—also as a teen.

Liu Wen

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Widely cited as China's first supermodel, Liu Wen has made a number of firsts: first Chinese model to walk the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, the first East Asian spokesmodel for Estée Lauder cosmetics, and the second Chinese model to appear on American Vogue.

Kathy Ireland

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Kathy Ireland achieved supermodel status in the 1980s and continued into the 1990s—including, most notably, 13 consecutive Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues. In a brilliant move, she founded licensing company kathy ireland Worldwide (kiWW), worth billions.

Heidi Klum

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The first German model to become a Victoria's Secret Angel (she was a fixture at the fashion show for years) and a Sports Illustrated model, Heidi Klum is probably most-known now as a successful media personality, including as former host of Project Runway.

Beverly Johnson

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The first Black model to appear on the cover of American Vogue in 1974, Beverly Johnson appeared on more than 500 magazine covers and is credited with helping to change the industry to be more inclusive. She's also an actor, author, singer, and businesswoman.

Elle Macpherson

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Sometimes referred to as "The Body" (the moniker was given to her by TIME in 1989), Elle Macpherson was on the cover of Sports Illustrated a whopping five times. She also founded Elle Macpherson Intimates and other business ventures, has acted, and is a media personality.

Jean Patchett

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One of the best-known models of her era, Jean Patchett's career spanned from the 1940s to the 1960s (she was known for her calm, cool demeanor, relative to other contemporary models). She was known for iconic Vogue covers and a picture that resides in the Smithsonian.

Linda Evangelista

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As the above image shows, part of Linda Evangelista's innate appeal was her ability to shape shift to all manner of hair, makeup, and clothing. She was one of the Big Six (including Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Claudia Schiffer, and Kate Moss) and they basically defined the '90s.

Gisele Bündchen

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A prominent Victoria's Secret Angel in the late '90s and through the '00s, Gisele Bündchen ushered in a new "look" for models. She has appeared on more than 1,200 magazine covers. In the 2020s, she became prolific as a model once again, including reuniting with Victoria's Secret.

Claudia Schiffer

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Technically, Claudia Schiffer (one of the "Big Six" and initially known for her resemblance to Brigitte Bardot) launched her career to supermodel-dom in 1989 with some very prominent Guess? campaigns. From there, she became the face of Chanel in 1990, and the rest is history.

Adriana Lima

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The longest-running Victoria's Secret model (and an Angel for 19 years) was also a prominent Maybelline spokesmodel. She's also a media presence, from hosting American Beauty Stars to making a cameo in Ocean's 8. She participated in the 2023 Victoria's Secret Icons campaign.

Jean Shrimpton

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Considered to be one of the world's first supermodels, Jean Shrimpton popularized a more natural, casual, street style photography through her work with photographer David Bailey. She also helped popularize the miniskirt and was deemed "The Face of the '60s."

Pat Cleveland

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One of the first Black models to make it big in America, Pat Cleveland was most prolific in the '60s and '70s. She aspired to be a designer but was scouted quickly, despite the racism she experienced in the industry, and was a fixture at Studio 54 (and a muse for Andy Warhol). She even started her own agency!

Christy Turlington

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Christy Turlington, one of the Big Six, first achieved stardom as an '80s supermodel and continued into the '90s. She had prominent work with Calvin Klein and Maybelline, and was one of the models featured in George Michael's "Freedom! '90." She's continued to model and has had an impressive longevity.

Tyra Banks

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Before she was creator and host of America's Next Top Model, Tyra Banks is the first Black woman to appear on the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition cover, as well as the cover of GQ. You likely know remember as a Victoria's Secret Angel, a title she held for eight years, and for the fact that she was one of the world's highest-earning models.

Cindy Crawford

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After graduating from high school (as valedictorian!) in 1984, Cindy Crawford's modeling career began in earnest. It would only be six short years until she would join other models on the British Vogue January 1990 cover and be a part of "Freedom! '90"—the first of many iconic moments for her.


supermodels - Twiggy

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Twiggy first helped popularize the "waifish" model look and, as spiritual successor to Jean Shrimpton, she became extremely popular in the UK in the late 1960s. But, fun fact, she also worked as a singer and actor and has had a long career beyond modeling.

Kate Moss

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Speaking of waifish models, Kate Moss re-invigorated the trend in the '90s, including with her campaign with Calvin Klein. She has also had a long and fruitful career, and her ad campaigns have included Chanel, Louis Vuitton, YSL, and Gucci—as well as many, many magazine covers.

Naomi Campbell

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The only Black model of the Big Six (who defined much of the culture in the '90s) was also the first Black model to appear on the cover of TIME and Vogue France. She began her career at eight years old in Bob Marley's "Is This Love" music video, and has continued to work for decades.


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Born in Somalia, Iman's American modeling career began in the mid-1970s. She was a muse to many, including Halston, Yves Saint-Laurent, Calvin Klein, Thierry Mugler, and Gianni Versace. She's acted, designed a clothing line and makeup line, and is a philanthropist.

Katherine J. Igoe
Contributing Editor

Katherine’s a contributing syndications editor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle. In her role, she writes stories that are syndicated by MSN and other outlets. She’s been a full-time freelancer for over a decade and has had roles with Cosmopolitan (where she covered lifestyle, culture, and fashion SEO content) and Bustle (where she was their movies and culture writer). She has bylines in New York TimesParentsInStyle, Refinery29, and elsewhere. Her work has also been syndicated by ELLEHarper’s BazaarSeventeenGood Housekeeping, and Women’s Health, among others. In addition to her stories reaching millions of readers, content she's written and edited has qualified for a Bell Ringer Award and received a Communicator Award. 

Katherine has a BA in English and art history from the University of Notre Dame and an MA in art business from the Sotheby's Institute of Art (with a focus on marketing/communications). She covers a wide breadth of topics: she's written about how to find the very best petite jeanshow sustainable travel has found its footing on Instagram, and what it's like to be a professional advice-giver in the modern world. Her personal essays have run the gamut from learning to dress as a queer woman to navigating food allergies as a mom. She also has deep knowledge of SEO/EATT, affiliate revenue, commerce, and social media; she regularly edits the work of other writers. She speaks at writing-related events and podcasts about freelancing and journalism, mentors students and other new writers, and consults on coursework. Currently, Katherine lives in Boston with her husband and two kids, and you can follow her on Instagram. If you're wondering about her last name, it’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.