INDIE REWIND: The Greatest Supermodels of the 70s
Oct 16, 2011 - by Lester Brathwaite
What the 60s set into motion, the 70s broke up on a glass table and snorted through several stacks of hundred dollar bills. Supermodels went from being muses of the fashion world to muses of rock stars, actors, athletes and the occasional congressman when the wife was out of town, while trying their hands in front of the camera and behind the microphone. This decade saw the birth of outsized personalities that continue to shake up the world whenever they deign to acknowledge it. Put on some Cheryl Lynn, we're going to the 70s!
Lauren Hutton (Nov. 17, 1943) That signature gap has been captivating audiences for four decades. both on and off the runway. Hutton easily transitioned from model to actress with roles in American Gigolo and The Gambler, but never forgot where her roots lay. Lest we forget, our senior citizens can still turn it.
Grace Jones (May 19, 1948) Part supermodel, part mental patient, part disco/New Wave/dancehall queen, Grace Jones is an enigma, wrapped in a question, wrapped in a kimono. Her distinctive style and personality are a constant source of inspiration, from musicians like Rihanna and Lady Gaga to magazine editorials, who find her a favorite subject in particular. And is it any wonder? That type of crazy comes along but once in an androgynous moon.
Beverly Johnson (Oct. 13, 1952) Bev Johnson's name will go down in history as the first black woman on the cover of U.S. Vogue. The 1974 cover was groundbreaking as Vogue has and continues to be and probably will always be the definitive fashion bible. Johnson's entree into the big leagues was a watershed moment for models of all diversities. Bev was only 22, so when you peak that early I guess the only way you can go is Def Jam's How to Be a Player.
Janice Dickinson (Feb. 15, 1955) Our second Top Model judge (but first, in terms of service rendered), Janice Dickinson is all but unrecognizable today after the full facial transplant she's had done over the years. But at her peak in the 70s, she was darkly exotic and really the definition of drop-dead gorgeous -- looking at her older pictures I literally want to kill myself. In 1979, she claimed she coined the term "supermodel" (though the credit is often given to Andy Warhol a decade earlier) when her manager told her that she shouldn't work so hard because she wasn't Superman. Janice's response: "I am not Superman. I am a supermodel." And then she threw a drink in his face, dipped her face in a pile of powder, kneed him in the crotch and then preceded to make out with him. Classic Dickinson.
Iman (July 25, 1955) With her long, graceful neck and statuesque beauty, Iman looks like she was actually plucked out of a Somalian village and thrown on a runway, but in reality she was discovered by photog Peter Beard while she was studying political science in Nairobi. Upon coming to New York in 1975, however, she happily played along with the myth that Beard had discovered her as "a teen tribeswoman tending 500 cattle and sheep in a Kenyan game preserve." What followed is one of the greatest careers in modern fashion history: a muse for Yves Saint Laurent, Issey Miyake and Calvin Klein, an entrepreneur and the one woman (or man) to tame David Bowie.
Jerry Hall (July 2, 1956) After dropping some acid at a party, Jerry Hall was convinced she could make it as a model. Hailing from Texas, she was the All-American girl of the 70s, who just happened to do some very naughty things with some notable Europeans; chief among them Mick Jagger, from whose superstar loins was spawned their pillow-lipped progeny, supermodel-on-the-rise, Georgia May Jagger. It's clear that in this case, she definitely gets it from her mama.