Some say that modelling is a fleeting career journey; you have a teensy tiny window (and corresponding figure) during which to earn your fortune, and then you must be disciplined and sit on it as clearly NO ONE would be mad enough to hire a fossilised forty year old. Or would they…?
Actually, thankfully and about time too - the ageist tide is turning. In spite of a global fixation with youth, glossy magazine cover stories, multi-million pound campaigns and international catwalks are showcasing a more sophisticated, worldly woman, and not only is she the star of the show, but she’s also bringing home the bacon (big time). There’s no skinny figures here - the old skool supers’ physiques look honed, toned and feminine and their pay cheques are anything but waifish. Take Kate Moss, whose earnings have trebled in the past year. According to The Telegraph and figures filed at Companies House, Kate has amassed a cool £12 million thanks to profits from her two companies, Tilly Church and Skate LLP.
It’s been a golden year for the 39 year old; the fact that she’s earning more now than she ever did in her nineties heyday proves that not only is she savvy, but she’s still at the top of her game and defying apparent modelling career lifespan logic. Lucrative contracts with Rimmel, Mango, Salvatore Ferragamo, Rag & Bone, Dior and Longchamp have contributed to her not to be sniffed at revenue in the last twelve months, and she has since been the face of new campaigns with Versace, Givenchy, Kérastase and St Tropez, to name but a few. Oh, and that’s not including her recent design collaboration with Carphone Warehouse or her book publication.
Not only is she still top dog in the eyes of designers, cosmetic houses and advertisers the world over, but also she’s as foxy as ever, as her tasteful nude shots for St Tropez prove. And she’s not the only ‘senior’ supermodel demonstrating her self-assured allure and shrewd business acumen. The following sartorial sisters have been doing it for themselves for quite some time now, and their appeal doesn’t look to be waning anytime soon. In fact, they’re fitter, fairer and more au fait than ever.
Helena Christensen: 44 and super fine. For evidence see recent nude cover shoot with FutureClaw magazine, shot on her own terms, in her own apartment, featuring her own clothes (there’s not actually a lot of clothing involved, but that’s beside the point, or perhaps it is, in fact, the point…). There are lots of quirky household props and strategically placed swans involved. It’s quirky, naughty and Christensen is most definitely in control. As is the case in her new collaboration with Triumph ; she co-designed her own range, featured in advertising campaigns and art directed the imagery herself. That’ll be her photography expertise and twenty years of experience behind the lens at work then. She’s also the face of the new NYDJ campaign and will feature in next year’s prestigious Pirelli calendar, alongside Alek Wek and younger supers Miranda Kerr, Alessandra Ambrosio and Isabeli Fontana.
Christy Turlington: Also 44, yet still the face of ‘Eternity’, having been first booked by Calvin Klein in 1988 and now fronting their A/W 2013 underwear campaign. Despite having officially retired from modelling for a period in 1995, it seems that not only was she the “Face of the 20th Century”, as declared by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but an icon for the 21st Century too. She’s climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, raised money for anti-smoking, HIV/AIDS and maternal health campaigns, authored a book about yoga and studied at both New York University and Colombia. She’s back in the fashion limelight in 2013 campaigns for Prada and Jason Wu, having fronted Esprit’s 2012 Christmas campaign. She’s not the only member of the famous late eighties modelling “Trinity” to be making a comeback…
Linda Evangelista: 48 going on 20. Face of the Spring 2012 Chanel Eyewear campaign, as shot by Karl Lagerfeld. Featured on the July 2013 cover of German Vogue cuddling up to Karl’s beloved cat, Choupette. That’s power and privilege right there.
Naomi Campbell: 43. Final member of the famed model “Trinity”, judge on American modelling competition series The Face and starred in S/S 2012 Roberto Cavalli campaign with the then 45 year old Kristen McMenamy.
Kristen McMenamy: Now 46 and representing for grey haired girls everywhere. Recently modelled for Givenchy, Viktor & Rolf, Lanvin, Louis Vuitton and still closing shows at Chanel. Makes you tempted to skip your next root touch-up.
Stella Tennant: 42 and as tough, androgynous and timeless as McMenamy. Face of NARS, catwalk queen and another Lagerfeld darling. Featured in Missoni’s A/W 2013 campaign and mother of four.
Elle Macpherson: 49 - ‘The Body’ gets better and better. Her business brain is pretty dazzling too - her lingerie line is a bestseller, she’s a savvy investor and since taking the judging panel helm at Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model, she has boosted audience ratings and encouraged some of fashion’s biggest names to feature in the show (which she also co-produces). Most recently exhibited her ageless appeal on the cover of August 2013 Harper’s Bazaar Australia, in which she stripped off in a recreation of her renowned 1994 Playboy Cover.
Stephanie Seymour: 45. Another mother of four whose beauty transcends decades. Starred in S/S 2013 Jason Wu campaign (Mr Wu has some serious supermodel taste). Still a Vogue cover girl.
Eva Herzigova: 40 and still a go-to girl for Prada.
Claudia Schiffer: 42, although from her 2012 appearance in Guess’ 30th Anniversary campaign you probably couldn’t tell the difference between those shots and her debut frames for the jeans label in the early nineties.
Carolyn Murphy: 39 - perhaps an underdog in the fame game but one of the highest earners in the business. Angelic and instantly recognisable face of Esteé Lauder. Fronting Paul & Joe and Louis Vuitton 2013 campaigns. Keen horserider (check out the Massimo Dutti equestrian themed campaign featuring Carolyn and David Gandy…).
Let’s hope that these unstoppable supermodels continue their reign in the manner of octogenarian models Daphne Self and Carmen Dell'Orefice. The era of the sugar daddy is over; mature mamas have it made.