The Models Who Ruled the Fashion World in the '80s
Way before Gigi, Bella, Chanel, or Kendall, the fashion world was captivated by a roster of big-haired beauties who were considered household names (and that's without social media). They were the glamazons who defined a decade; covering magazines, appearing in advertising campaigns for everything from cosmetics to carbonated beverages, and walking the runways of the most iconic names in fashion. Some had longer tenures than others — and some still model today. But all of these quintessential '80s faces paved the way for the superstars who came later.
Let's take a look back and pay homage to the women who ruled the industry then — and catch up with where they are now.
Before she was a mom to mini me Kaia, Illinois native Crawford was a pioneer of the supermodel era. She won Elite's Look of The Year competition in 1982 and went on to conquer campaigns for brands including Revlon, Gap, and Escada. She was a runway favorite of Gianni Versace and was the host of MTV's House of Style when it debuted in 1989.
These days, in addition to tendering to her gorgeous brood, the model mogul runs Meaningful Beauty, a line of antiaging beauty products she created with Jean-Louis Sebagh for Guthy-Renker, hawks an eponymous furniture collection, and most recently collaborated on a vintage-inspired capsule collection with Re/Done.
New York City native Shields burst onto the scene with a slew of roles including 1978's Pretty Baby, 1980's The Blue Lagoon, and 1981's Endless Love. At 14, she became the youngest cover model ever featured on American Vogue, landing on its February 1980 issue. She followed up that milestone with a somewhat infamous role as the star of controversial Calvin Klein print ads and commercials shot by Richard Avedon, where she declared, “You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.” The campaign was promptly banned by more than one network for being indecent.
Shields went on to a career in television, most recently signing on to a major recurring role in season 19 of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.
Blue-eyed, Michigan-born Brinkley shot to fame in the late '70s and early '80s with three consecutive Sports Illustrated covers. Considered one of the foremost faces of the '80s, she's appeared on over 500 magazine covers and made history with a 25-year run as the face of CoverGirl. Brinkley's also known for inspiring her ex (and father of her daughter Alexa Ray), Billy Joel, to write "Uptown Girl," and subsequently appeared in the iconic accompanying music video (that polka dot dress, though).
Today, the model has her hand in several business ventures including Christie Brinkley Authentic Skincare (an antiaging regimen, naturally), a collection of clip-on hair extensions, and a line of organic Prosecco and sparkling wines.
Somali beauty Iman was an instant success in the industry, largely in part to her "exotic" look. She became a muse for everyone from Halston to Yves Saint-Laurent, who once described her as his "dream woman" and devoted the "African Queen" collection to her. She was a regular on the runways of Bill Blass, Calvin Klein, and Oscar de la Renta, and went on to marry David Bowie in 1992.
Shortly thereafter, the model launched Iman Cosmetics, offering more makeup shades for women of color. She has since also launched a line of fashion and accessories for HSN, Iman Global Chic, and fills her remaining time with international charity work.
Australian native Macpherson was best known by her nickname, "The Body," a moniker she earned after a record-breaking five Sports Illustrated cover appearances. She's walked the runways for everyone from Azzedine Alaïa to Christian Dior to Thierry Mugler and made frequent appearances on the cover of Elle, in addition to other major mags.
Now, the seemingly ageless beauty is involved in several successful business ventures, including an intimates line bearing her name and WelleCo, the health and wellness product company she cofounded.
New York native Alt also shot to fame with a Sports Illustrated cover in 1982. She went on to appear on numerous magazine covers and was dubbed "The Next Million Dollar Face" by Life Magazine. She made appearances as a runway model for Calvin Klein, Perry Ellis, and Ralph Lauren and in advertising campaigns including Lancôme, Cover Girl, Pepsi, and General Motors. Alt was also the first model to produce a line of her own posters, calendars, and workout videos, setting a self-branding precedent.
These days she considers herself a raw food and alternative health expert, having published a book and hosted a Fox News show devoted to wellness and balanced living.
Czech-born Porizkova appeared on the cover of the 1984 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue at the age of 18 and became the second woman (after Christie Brinkley) to be featured on consecutive covers the following year. The face of campaigns for Estée Lauder as well as Maybelline, Escada, and Chanel, Porizkova married The Cars' lead singer Ric Ocasek in 1989.
The two are still married, with two grown sons — and Porizkova continues to show off her bangin' bikini-clad body on the 'Gram.
New Jersey-born Alexander is credited with breaking diversity barriers in the fashion industry. She was one of the first black models to appear in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, as well as one of the first to appear in Chanel beauty campaigns. In addition to runway appearances for Yves Saint Laurent, Calvin Klein, and Yohji Yamamoto, Alexander also landed on the cover Vogue’s January 1989 issue in a portrait shot by Peter Lindbergh.
She most recently signed with IMG and shot a 2016 L'Oreal campaign with her old pal, Lindbergh, featuring the hashtag #betterthanever.
In 1983, New York native Alexis became the face of Revlon's premium Ultima II line, replacing '70s icon Lauren Hutton. She set a record for Glamour magazine covers and appeared in six Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issues, going on to write books on modeling, dieting, and thyroid health.
Currently, Alexis hosts the Food Network's Food Quest, a "global culinary adventure" with fellow '80s icon Robin Leach.
Texas-born Goodacre was a mainstay of the Victoria's Secret catalogue (RIP) in the '80s. Together with her fellow ladies in lingerie, she helped take the brand to it's current giant status. She made multiple appearances on the covers of Cosmopolitan and Self and married crooner Harry Connick Jr. in 1994.
Goodacre recently went public with a secret five-year battle with breast cancer, from which she is currently in remission.
A 1985 appearance in Seventeen shot this Pennsylvania teen to model stardom, leading to campaigns like Escada, and over 50 magazine covers, including Vogue Italia. She was a favorite of top photographers like Herb Ritts and Steven Meisel, and in 1989 she also appeared in the music video for New Order's "Round and Round," cementing her status as an It model.
She divorced singer John Mellencamp in 2011 and has since married auto heir Jay Penske. Most recently, Irwin shot a Swimsuits for All campaign with Ashley Graham.
London-raised LeBrock got her big break at 16 in a 24-page Vogue spread. She
graced multiple magazine covers subsequently, but became recognized as a household face when she appeared in shampoo commercials for Pantene, declaring "Don't hate me because I'm beautiful," which instantly became a pop-culture catchphrase (before "viral" was actually a thing). She also went on to make movie appearances, playing a dream woman character in Weird Science and The Woman in Red.
Now divorced from Steven Seagal, LeBrock recently re-emerged from life off the grid, introducing the world to her daughter, Arissa, an aspiring model, on the Lifetime series Growing Up Supermodel.
German-born Patitz was known as one of "The Big Five" and is credited with helping launch the supermodel era. She was a Vogue staple, appearing on covers of both U.S. and international editions and scoring two consecutive covers in 1989 under the newly appointed Anna Wintour. Patitz was a muse to legendary photographer Herb Ritts and shot campaigns for Calvin Klein with Bruce Weber and Revlon's "The Most Unforgettable Women in the World" campaign with Richard Avedon.
An avid animal-lover and equestrian, Patitz still rides horses in addition to modeling — most recently in the Fall campaign for Gloria Vanderbilt jeans.
Hunter got her big break in a 1986 Vidal Sasson ad with Duran Duran's Simon LeBon. She subsequently landed covers of American and German Vogue, in addition to Elle, Cosmopolitan, and Mademoiselle. She went on to famously marry rocker Rod Stewart, but the two divorced in 2006. These days, Hunter films Rachel's Tour of Beauty for TVNZ1 in her native New Zealand, a show in which she travels the world looking for the secrets to lasting beauty, good health, and long life.
Frederique van der Wal
Winner of the Elite Model Look of the Year award in 1985, Dutch model Van der Wal became an instant superstar, scoring campaigns for Revlon, Guess, MCI, and Victoria’s Secret. She was best known as a regular in the mail-order lingerie catalogue, alongside peers like Jill Goodacre and Stephanie Seymour.
Today, she is mom to a teenage daughter and the brains behind Frederique’s Choice, an ecommerce brand offering handcrafted, locally sourced floral bouquets and arrangements in Europe and the U.S.