The 80s were undoubtedly one of the golden ages of modeling. From the stunning Iman, who happened to be an expert in five different languages, to the model princess Brooke Shields, the youngest model ever (14 y/o) to make an appearance on the cover of Vogue, it seemed like every beauty around the world had decided to make a name in the world of fashion.
You might know the 80s as the decade when it was fashionable to keep your hair big and curly or having your tights ripped just for the sake of it. It was also the time when you would see someone wearing oversized blazers at least once a day, and pretty much everyone was suddenly into pool skirts and biker jackets. However, besides being one of the most eclectic times in fashion, the 80s had other things that set them apart in the glorious history of modeling.
It might feel like the title “supermodel” is more fitting to the 90s – to Naomi, Christy, Linda and all the other supergirlsthat were no less than celebrities – but you can’t argue with the fact that it was the classics of the 80s who shined bright enough to grab the world’s attention and focus it on their succeeding “Supers.” The models of the 80s cast an ever-lasting influence on the mannerism of runways that can still be seen in the boundlessly contrasting arts of fashion today.
As the approach of viewing modeling as a full-time career grew, so did the potential for concealed enchantresses to come out to the public and combine their unseen creativity with the glamour offered by agencies like Elite Models and Chanel. Let us take a look at the top 5 models of the 80s that would stand out in the industry for decades to come.
1. Jerry Hall
Jerry Hall’s career began when she and her twin sister were sunbathing on a beach in Saint Tropez, France, and she was approached by her would-be agent. Even though she was already a leading model in the late 70s, her career was absolutely blooming in the 80s. By the time she was 21 years old, she had been on up to 40 magazine covers. She lit up the covers of several famous magazines, including the Italian Vogue and Cosmopolitan, and walked numerous Chanel shows.
Hall was known to make nearly 1 000 US Dollars daily. Her outstanding blonde hair and a staggering six feet build made her one of the most stylish and photographed models of her time. Alongside her modeling career, she actively took part in the film industry from a young age, and she holds the World Record “for making the most theatrical appearances in a single night.”
2. Christie Brinkley
With dazzling blue eyes and blonde hair, Christie Brinkley was the embodiment of the all-American classic female. Her slender figure and charming smile were enough to help her gain a multitude of admirers in the 80s. She was introduced to the world through the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issues, where she appeared in three consecutive covers in the 80s. She surprised the world when she made a record 25-year contract with CoverGirl, a well-known cosmetics brand, and became the face of the products for 25 whole years, one of the most extended contracts in the history of modeling.
Her top-profile status was broadened even more when she was married to the famous singer Billy Joel in 1985. She also made several appearances in Joel’s music videos, with Joel even claiming that Brinkley was the inspiration behind the popular song Uptown Girl. Her self-illustrated book Christie Brinkley’s Outdoor Beauty and Fitness Book, published in 1983,topped TheNew York Times bestseller list.
3. Gia Carangi
GiaCarangi is considered one of the most successful pioneers in the modeling world. She is commonly known for her troubled childhood and unfortunately early death at the age of 26. At 16, she entered her first stages of a decade-long but glorious life as a model. The dark tone of her skin and impeccable measurements were exactly what the world was looking for. She is often cited as being the first supermodel the world has ever seen. This was justified considering that she made 100k US Dollars per year, making her the highest-paid model of her time.
After rising to fame in her home, Philadelphia, she was invited to New York at the age of 17. She was the most prized model for numerous photographers, including Richard Avedon and Francesco Scavullo. In 1998, 12 years after she passed away, her heartbreaking life story was made into an HBO film, starring Angelina Jolie. She was noted for her androgynous dressing and later translated the same elements into her work. She was one of the first and most prominent figures in modern culture to come out as a lesbian.
4. Elle Macpherson
Elle Macpherson visited the United States with the intention of a temporary stay to earn money by doing modeling work so that she could pay for her law books. A student still in University, she moved to New York planning to return to Sydney after a one year stay. However, her life took an unexpected turn when she found herself to be a natural model due to her massive success in the industry. Her profile quickly rose, and within just a few years, she had appeared in several renowned magazines, including Tatler, New York, and Glamor. At 18, she appeared for six consecutive years in several issues and quickly gained fame within her ranks.
With a remarkable 6 feet figure, she was famous for her lean and athletic frame. Her unmatched physique rightly earned her the nickname “The Body” in the 80s fashion circles. She was well-known for her stunning swimsuit takes. She holds the record for the most cover appearances for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, a full five times starting in the 80s. At 21, she was married to the French director Giles Bensimon, soon after became the famous face of the French skincare organization called Biotherm. She has walked several renowned runways, including Louis Vuitton and John Galliano, in the same decade.
5. Brooke Shields
For Brooke Shields, her life as a model began before she had the chance to celebrate her first birthday. She was famous as a child model, starring in several films like Blue Lagoon (1980) and playing the leading role in the controversial film Pretty Baby (1978). Her early career was tarnished by ethical concerns after she had played a role in several films containing scenes of sexual nature and appeared in similar TV ads for Calvin Klein jeans, even though she was still in her early teens. Starting early, she gathered widespread media attention that eventually led to her becoming one of the most successful models of her time.
In 1980, Shields received recognition after becoming the youngest model so far to appear on the cover of the Vogue. Just at 14, she stirred up the fans of art and modeling by covering the most trending fashion magazines and TV ads. With striking brows, long hair, and ideal bone structure, her pretty features most certainly made her one of the most memorable faces of the 80s.