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Social media supermodels: the 10 faces transforming fashion

February 18th 2015 / Anna Hunter


The era of the supermodel is over - or is it? Meet the modern day models who are doing ‘super’ their own way…

In her revealing, long anticipated autobiography, Have I Said Too Much?, former model and co-founder of Premier Model Management Carole White muses that there’s most definitely a magic number in the modelling world:

“(David) Bailey says there are only ever ten top girls and I’m inclined to agree with him.”

While the legendary likes of Cindy, Linda, Naomi, Kate and Claudia are unforgettable household names, to this day gracing the pages of glossies and making the occasional catwalk appearance, the younger generation are putting down their own roots, and the fruits of their labour are beginning to blossom. As Carole highlights, the pathway to big pay cheques and international notoriety is much changed from the supermodel success stories of old:

“They have to be so dedicated to make it work and the power that models once had has gone because actresses have taken over.”

We’ve all seen the big money ad campaigns featuring Oscar winners, but, thanks to clever self-promotion and a savvy use of social media, the new supermodels’ stars are in the ascendence. Business brains, combined with beauty and exclusive ‘behind the scenes’ broadcasts into not only models’ lives, but the fashion and celebrity elite around them, mean that the modern model is far more than an anonymous clothes horse; she’s a one woman brand with a voice and identity of her own, not to mention an army of followers. The following ten top models are working it their own way and changing the game, which is pretty super if you ask me.

Cara Delevingne


Age: 22

Nationality: British

USP: As Carole puts it, ‘she’s got balls’.

Cara is the face of just about every covetable brand (deep breath... Burberry, YSL, Chanel, DKNY, Tom Ford, Mulberry, Fendi, La Perla, Topshop…). It’s not just her remarkable brows and bone structure that have put her on the Forbes top earning models list for 2014 (she made a cool £2 million last year, in case you were curious). Carole explains the enduring draw of Cara D:

“Cara’s success has been phenomenal. She is going to become a big actress. And she is a huge personality, [...] she’s fun. She’s like Kate Moss in that respect. Britain has a habit of breeding cool and interesting girls.”

Which brings us onto our next stellar super-to-be…

Jourdan Dunn


Age: 24

Nationality: British

USP: From Primark to Prada - she’s a homegrown groundbreaker

Discovered in Primark in 2006, Dunn was the first black model to walk in a Prada show for over ten years, and has been campaigning for more diversity in the fashion and beauty industries ever since. Like Cara, her earnings are swiftly catching up with her social media following- she was another Forbes high earner, making £2.4 million last year. Dunn and Delevingne have matching ‘D’ tattoos on their hips - they’re in it for the long haul, and Burberry campaign buddies, as is the next moneyspinning model…

Suki Waterhouse


Age: 23

Nationality: British

USP: Brit beauty with a brown belt

A self confessed tomboy, Suki (real name Alice), is as gung-ho as any original super. The martial artist and model quit school at 16 to pursue a career in front of the camera after being discovered in a pub (supermodel scouting is a down to earth business it seems). The likes of Vogue, Elle and Tatler soon came calling, not to mention countless global brands, and incidentally, Bradley Cooper. Her instagram feed is a collage of A-list snapshots and low-key larking about with her family. Great genes and an impeccable social media family album have seen her sister Immy follow in her footsteps - Immy’s signed to the same agency (Next) and tipped for top model glory.

Family ties can give young models a lot of leverage, but flying solo successfully takes a lot of determination, not to mention sleep deprivation. The next fashion figure on our list is certainly putting in the hours…

Kendall Jenner


Age: 19

Nationality: American

USP: Reality TV-made runway regular

Stepsister to a certain Kim Kardashian, Jenner has made a smooth and poised transition from guilty pleasure TV to commercial shoots to high fashion runways. Her social media mega fame gives her immense clout when it comes to winning big gigs - her model credentials are undeniable but her nigh on 20 million Instagram followers are part of her ‘currency’. Carole is of the opinion that a model’s captive audience is becoming ever more key:

“In the not-too-distant future, I think clients will start looking at selecting models based on how many followers they have.”

With Karl Lagerfeld on her side, not to mention most of the internet, Jenner has turned family fame into serious career accomplishment. She’s not the only one…

Gigi Hadid


Age: 19

Nationality: American

USP: Beverley Hills bombshell

Maybe she’s born with it? Gigi may be the newest face of Maybelline, but her good looks and unflappable work ethic have been winning her work since the age of two, when she began modelling for Guess. She’s still doing campaigns for the brand to this day, leaving a dalliance in reality TV behind her after starring in The Real Housewives of Beverley Hills. Like a certain Claudia Schiffer before her, Guess got her noticed; she will appear in this year’s Pirelli calendar and, like model mate Kendall, has treaded the boards for Chanel. She always uses the same filter on Instagram - it’s clearly a winning one. Her sister Bella, 18, is waiting in the wings. Sisters are doing them for themselves.

Edie Campbell


Age: 24

Nationality: British

USP: Fearless - in photos and on the saddle

Starting your career in Vogue, shot by Mario Testino no less, is about as big as breaks get. Quirky, non-conformist and driven, Edie isn’t just a pretty face - she’s also a winning jockey and has a first class degree in History of Art. With Burberry, YSL, Chanel, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs campaigns under her belt, to name just a few, Edie is undoubtedly riding high. Her younger sister Olympia is trotting up behind, having modelled for Fendi, Chanel and Rag & Bone. In fact, the entire Campbell family have taken part in an ever-so-slightly satirical shoot for Lanvin, featuring a pre-requisite horse.

Malaika Firth


Age: 20

Nationality: British

USP: Breakthrough beauty from Barking

I’ll let Carole take the fore here, she signed Malaika after all…

“I knew from the first moment that I’d found someone special. It’s like love at first sight, the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach.”

“Before Malaika, it had been ten years - ten years! - since Prada had used a black girl in their campaign. And who was that girl? Naomi Campbell.”

“She also did the Victoria’s Secret Show, which was so exciting for her because every girl wants to do that, God knows why. It’s not my cup of tea but it seems to be a medal for models. I think she’ll become very, very famous. She’s extremely focused and determined. For me, Malaika represents everything I love about this job and why I do it: discovering a girl and seeing her blossom and thrive.”

Karlie Kloss


Age: 22

Nationality: American

USP: Cookie cutter cute, not to mention career minded

A fellow Victoria’s Secret Angel, Kloss began modelling at the tender age of 14. A former ballerina with cut glass cheekbones, her all-American charm is irresistible to the general public and prestigious brands alike, and notably to her fellow models too- she hands out Karlie’s Kookies on shoots and at shows to raise money for the charity, FEED. Her Instagram profile is as uplifting as they come; think smiley selfies with Taylor Swift and tourist-worthy Eiffel Tower shots. She’s just like us really…

Joan Smalls


Age: 26

Nationality: Puerto Rican

USP: Estée Lauder’s leading Latina

A true beauty big hitter, Smalls was the first Latina face of Estée Lauder, and has not only won over high fashion houses such as Givenchy and Gucci, but has also won the applause of iconic super Cindy Crawford, who sang Small’s praises on Facebook:

“She has great style - sexy and elegant with a touch of tomboy thrown in!”

If that’s not passing the baton, we don’t know what is.

Binx Walton


Age: 19

Nationality: American

USP: On the cusp of sartorial stardom... and too cool for school

Binx, real name Leona, is so called as her brothers thought her so odd-looking they nicknamed her after Star Wars’ Jar Jar Binks. A new, and incredibly striking, face on the model scene, skateboarder Binx has already coupled with Cara to model for Chanel and amassed over 82,000 Instagram followers. Her moody, boyish beauty is bringing home the bacon.


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