The 25 Greatest Supermodels of the Past 50 Years: The 80s
Mar 12, 2011 - by Lester Brathwaite
When you think of "supermodel," you can't help but think of The Big 3. Or The Super Six. Or my favorite grouping, The Legion of Doom. Spawned from the decadence of the 80s, these gals redefined who the supermodel was and her influence on fashion and popular culture; yet their dominance over the zeitgeist was short-lived as they were soon replaced by a series of bland waifs whose personalities would not detract from the clothes. You can't keep a good super down, though, and they are as in demand today as they were 25 years ago. Bust out the parachute pants, we're breakdancing into the 80s!
Christie Brinkley (Feb. 2, 1954) Billy Joel's Uptown Girl was the reigning supermodel of the early 80s thanks to her three consecutive Sports Illustrated covers (1979-1981). After signing a record 20-year contract with Cover Girl, Brinkley came to embody the perpetually perky All-American girl of the decade. Recently, though, she went through a very public and very messy divorce and proved in a 2006 editorial in W magazine there was some grit beneath all that goddamn cheer.
Linda Evangelista (May 10, 1965) If you watch Isaac Mizrahi' s seminal fashion documentary Unzipped (1995), you won't be able to help but think Linda Evangelista is a whiny bitch. She complains about everything the entire movie. You wonder why Mizrahi and everyone else puts up with it. Then, moments before she goes on the runway for his Fall 1994 collection, she stares directly into the camera, seduces you in a second then turns it out all the way down the catwalk. The super among supers who once notoriously purred, "We don't wake up for less than $10,000 a day," was worth every penny. She's fashion's reigning chameleon, able to go from high fashion to commercial with the raise of an eyebrow.
Cindy Crawford (Feb. 20, 1966) The mole that launched a thousand magazine covers, Cindy Crawford was perhaps the most iconic of the supemodels to emerge in the 1980s. She was the approachable bombshell, the girl next door who just happened to be walking a Chanel runway in Paris. Cindy is rarely seen on a runway or in an editorial these days, but whenever she crops up it's a pretty big deal, like mama bird coming home to the roost.
Christy Turlington (Jan. 2, 1969) Quietly stunning, Christy Turlington can nonetheless pose anyone off the page. Perhaps it's all those years of yoga, but her inner serenity and ferocity when it comes to her body language go hand in hand. She can be dynamic, she can be avant garde, she can be powerful, but she's always amazing.
Naomi Campbell (May 22, 1970) What can be said about Naomi Campbell that hasn't already been said that won't land me in jail? The preeminent black supermodel of the past 50 years, Naomi recently celebrated her 25th year in the modeling industry, though her personal life remains front page material. Famous for her temper, the super has managed to stay in the spotlight because she's got more to offer than just a cell phone to the head. A versatile editorial model, she also possesses the best walk ever seen on a runway.