It’s no secret that the way society looks at fashion models has affected mankind’s perception of beauty is when it comes to people. Especially towards women, since women are typically always the ones to represent beauty and grace. Let’s have a look at how high fashion modelling evolved over the years and remember the earlier years of fashion modelling.
The 1800’s – The First Fashion Models
It was during the 1800s when the first notion of live fashion models took place. Back then, fashion designers often used mannequins for displaying their finished pieces. It was thanks to Charles Frederick Worth, the world’s first couturier and fashion designer, for using live models to show off the fashion designs he made in order to market the clothes he made to the public.
The 1900s – 1940s – Setting the Trend
The early 1900s was an important start for the fashion modelling industry. It was during this time when the world’s first modelling agency appeared. In 1923, John Powers opened the very first modelling agency in the United States. This made modelling not just an extra side-line for women, but a full-time career for them too. Modelling schools also started appearing in major cities, like Paris and Berlin.
In these modelling schools, the fashion models are taught how to stand, walk, and pose in front of the camera. The same models became the object of fascination among many illustrators, particularly one Charles Dana Gibson. This man observed the daily lives of various women through his illustrations. The girls featured in his collection were known as the Gibson girls. One particular Gibson girl, Camille Clifford, went famous because of her hourglass figure. This would eventually set the beauty standard for most American women.
The 1920s also gave rise to the Flapper, a style built on the fierceness and free-spirited nature of most women during the time. Gone were the days of women wearing long hair and long skirts; fashion models started wearing shorter hair, pleated skirts, and feather detailing as their means of expression towards society.
When the 1940s came, photographers who made a living taking pictures of models who posed for fashionable clothes realized that there were some fashion models who were far prettier desirable to look at. These photographers would pay these models to pose exclusively for them.
By the late 1940s, fashion models earned from $10 to $25 per hour. Lissa Fonssagrives, one of the most famous models during this era made $40 per hour.
The 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s
Before the traditional supermodels became popular, it was up to the most famous Hollywood stars to fill in the gaps when it comes to society’s standards of beauty. Marilyn Monroe was one such Hollywood actress. Before she became famous as a movie star in the 1950s, she first started working as a fashion model.
The fashion industry bloomed further in the 1960s. When Vogue became the staple fashion magazine in the United States, it catapulted several high fashion models to stardom. Jean Shrimpton was one of these supermodels. Her classic Vogue covers would make her one of the most sought-after supermodels of the 1960s.
The 1960s to 1970s era would also usher in the start of a change in fashion modelling. Twiggy, a fashion icon known for her famously thin figure, would set the change towards society looking at slender supermodels as a beauty standard compared to the fuller-figured models of the past.
1974 would also make a mark in the annals of fashion model history as Beverly Johnson became the first African-American woman to grace the cover of Vogue magazine. During the earlier years of fashion modelling, coloured women were not looked on favourably as fashion models. Johnson’s 1974 Vogue cover would pave the way for many women of color in making their marks in the fashion modelling industry.
The 80s, 90s, and early 2000s
The 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s would mark more changes in the fashion and modelling industry. This was the era of the voluptuous girls next door and of Victoria’s Secret bikini models becoming famous fashion supermodels overnight.
This era also gave us the most popular and memorable supermodels such as Cindy Crawford, Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell, Ella MacPherson, Brooke Shields, Kate Moss, Claudia Shiffer, Gisele Bundchen, Christy Turlington, and Linda Evangelista.
Another notable fashion model during this era was Heidi Klum. Before becoming a fashion supermodel, she was a favourite amongst the Victoria’s Secret Angels, and her cover by Sports Illustrated transformed her into becoming one of the most sought-after fashion supermodels. Joining her from Victoria’s Secret Angels is Brazilian-born Adriana Lima. She is often called the most famous Victoria’s Secret Angel and she just made her emotional final walk back in November of 2018.
Another supermodel who gained popularity after a famous photoshoot with Sports Illustrated is Kate Upton. Her popularity as a fashion model is often regarded as the return of the curvier, fuller supermodels as the favourite among fashion brands.
Her famous 2012 Sports Illustrated cover is often by millions of men for, well, obvious reasons.
2010 and Beyond
From beyond 2010, there is now a rising interest towards supermodels as becoming actual human beings rather than the goddesses that we all look upon in awe of back in the day. The rising popularity of Ashley Graham in recent years has led to the plus-size representation in fashion modelling.
Ashley Graham has graced the cover of Sports Illustrated back in 2016 solidified her status as the new face of fashion models. She’s also the new face of Revlon and has graced the cover of Vogue. Her influence is clearly rubbing off towards the direction of huge fashion brands, such as Dolce & Gabbana. The Italian fashion brand recently introduced their plus-sized fashion line and, of course, who better showcase their newest pieces than plus-sized models!
Apart from the shift towards plus-sized models, there is also a growing interest in supermodels from all walks of life. These are the fashion bloggers and social media influencers that you see on popular social media sites, such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. You have Gigi and Bella Hadid, famous social media influencers, who are now strutting their stuff thanks to famous fashion brands like Chanel, Victoria’s Secret, Givenchy, and Marc Jacobs.
Another popular blogger turned supermodel is the Italian sensation Chiara Ferragni. The brains behind the famous Italian blog “The Blonde Salad”. Ferragni is enjoying worldwide attention, fame, and high fashion brand sponsorships thanks to her 6.6 million followers on Instagram.