Born Lisa Bernstone in Sweden in 1911, Fonssagrives studied ballet
until she married photographer Fernand Fonssagrives and gave up dancing
to model. At first, she modeled hats, but soon a Vogue cover
followed, with Fonssagrives posing as each letter in the magazine's
title (see above). She became a regular cover model for Vogue and Bazaar; in 1949, Time magazine
called her "the million dollar baby" in a cover-story feature.
Eventually she divorced Fernand and married famed photographer Irving
Widely credited with being one of the world's first supermodels,
Fonssagrives once humbly described herself as a "good clothes hanger."
Veruschka in YSL by Rubaretlli 1968; Courtesy of the Costume Institute
Not only was Veruschka unstoppably gorgeous, she also gets snaps for
having one of the world's longest birthnames: Vera Gottliebe Anna
Gräfin von Lehndorff-Steinort. Born in 1939 in East Prussia,
Veruschka's father was executed for participating in an assassination
attempt against Hitler; she was five years old at the time.
As a model, Veruschka helped move fashion away from the prim,
highly-structured styles of the 1950s and into the realm of unbridled,
bed-head sexuality of the 1960s. In the mid-60s, she wore nothing but
body paint to a shoot, which became a calling-card of sorts for her. In
one shoot in Kenya, on which she collaborated with artist Salvador Dalí
and photographer Peter Beard, Veruschka covered herself entirely with
black paint to resemble the "surreal" plants in the landscape -- and
the natives who lived there.
3. Jean Shrimpton
Jean Shrimpton by David Bailey, 1964; Courtesy of the Costume Institute
Born in 1942 in England, "the Shrimp" was one of the original
gamines and an icon of Swinging Sixties London. By the age of 18, she
had already graced the covers of the major fashion and lifestyle mags.
Some credit Shrimpton with starting the original mini-skirt craze in
1965, when she wore an above-knee white shift dress to the Victoria
Derby race in Melbourne, causing a scandal/sensation.
Incidentally, now she owns a ramshackle seaside hotel in Cornwall
called the Abbey, which is one of the most charming places I've ever
On the covers of French Vogue and Newsweekin 1967
Her birth name was Lesley Hornby; she became known as Twiggy for
obvious reasons. At age sixteen and weighing an estimated 90 pounds, in
1966 she became England's most popular model and the mod postergirl
around the world. With her short-haired androgynous look, Twiggy
revolutionized the concept of high-fashion. By 1967, Mattel had
released a 'Twiggy' doll. The original waif, Twiggy foreshadowed the
success of equally-bony icon Kate Moss. She retired from modeling after
only four years.
Today's audiences likely know Twiggy as a former judge on America's Next Top Model.
On the covers of ItalianVogue and Italian Cosmopolitan in 1980
Born in 1955 in Mogadisha, Somalia, Iman was 'discovered' by
photographer Peter Beard twenty years later and became one of the first
black women to rise to supermodel status (along with under-credited
model Donyale Luna - who, in 1966, became the first African American
model to grace an edition of Vogue).
Throughout the 1980s, Iman modeled for Calvin Klein, Donna Karan,
and Yves Saint Laurent, whom she inspired to create an "Africa Queen"
collection." Her success paved the road for other black supermodels
such as Campbell, Tyra Banks, and today's runway darling, Chanel Iman.
In 1994, Iman launched an eponymous cosmetics line marketed to women of color. She is famously married to David Bowie.
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