Linda Evangelista, famous for her blunt haircut, once uttered bluntly, “We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day.” The supermodels, known by their first names Christy, Cindy, Claudia, Linda and Naomi, were seen as the pinnacle of femininity and epitomized the world’s obsession with fame, wealth and beauty. Stemming from the 80s ideal of women in power rising through the ranks and earning their own money, the 90s solidified the rise of the supermodels as they gained media omnipresence and starred in major campaigns, editorial spreads, magazine covers, runway shows and music videos. Dating rockstars, royalty and Hollywood A-listers, even their personal lives were as glamorous as the clothes they wore.
The supermodels dominated the world well throughout the 80s and into the early 90s. Then, in a snap, their influence waned down. In 1995, the ideals of fashion and beauty shifted to a more minimalist aesthetic as exemplified by Calvin Klein and his young muse, Kate Moss. Suddenly, the curvaceous classicism of the supermodels no longer worked with the androgynous looks of the time. A new breed of women was worshipped—young lanky girls with protruding bones, reflecting the grunge music movement. There was no place anymore for the supermodels and the glamour they represented. As the clothes became less flashy, designers turned to models that were less glamorous and wouldn’t overpower the clothing. It was also the time when celebrities began replacing models on magazine covers. “I don’t think people are that interested in models anymore,” Klein famously said then. And then, just like that, the supermodels were gone.
Since society went through an economic downturn, women reactively desired to look timeless and sophisticated in these troubled times, hence they looked up to the faces they trusted. Now fashion has been undergoing a rewind to the time of the supermodels as designers are now casting the women we all know, trust and admire. Now in their late 30s and early 40s, the supermodels are again headlining campaigns. Recent seasons saw Claudia for Chanel, Linda for Prada, Naomi for YSL and Christy for Louis Vuitton. In Manila, our very own versions of the supermodels—Marina Benipayo, Tweetie de leon, Apples Aberin, Rissa Samson—have reemerged into the scene, working alongside young upstarts and showing them how it’s really done. Just last year alone, Marina had opened and closed a gamut of fashion shows. While having already established a bankable foray into commercial endorsements, Tweetie lends her own stamp of glamour to brands such as Maldita and Ponds. Apples and Rissa, even with their busy careers as editors, still make time to walk for galas of the country’s most respected designers. Here are women, real women, many with children, looking fabulous in fabulous clothes. The return of the supermodels welcomes a nice change in the dynamics of fashion, signaling a brighter future ahead.