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US Vogue September 2023 : Linda, Cindy, Christy & Naomi by Rafael Pavarotti
THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME
Linda, Cindy, Christy, Naomi! The Iconic Supers Open Up About Their Fabulous Then—and Now
BY SALLY SINGER
PHOTOGRAPHY BY RAFAEL PAVAROTTI
STYLED BY EDWARD ENNINFUL
Supers revisited. From left: Linda Evangelista wears a Michael Kors Collection coat. D’Accori shoes. Cindy Crawford wears a Bottega Veneta dress. Sergio Rossi shoes. Christy Turlington wears a Versace jacket, skirt, and shoes. Naomi Campbell wears a Prada dress. Paula Rowan gloves. Roger Vivier shoes. Fashion Editor: Edward EnninfulPhotographed by Rafael Pavarotti, Vogue, September 2023.
Over two days in May, Cindy, Christy, Linda, and Naomi (no surnames required) can be found at a photo studio on the West Side of Manhattan doing that thing they do—supermodel-ing—with humor, and with ruthless precision. They don’t balk at wearing massive shoulder pads, pastel mini suits, skinny ties, and pointy pumps—items that bear no relation to the cozy cashmeres and jeans they arrived in—and they smile with familiarity at the racks of this season’s most important looks, which look not unlike designer offerings they wore more than 30 years ago. Back then they were just kids, really, and the clothes made no sense; now they are in their 50s, and ditto (save for a Schiaparelli gown in jersey that Christy falls in love with). Even the coolest, most downbeat look—jeans and a tank from superhot Matthieu Blazy for Bottega Veneta—is paradoxically made of leather. How does that work when walking a dog? But never mind. These are Supers and they can own any look, gamely sing along to a soundtrack of early Madonna and Lauper, catch the light just so to create shapes that don’t actually accord with their actual bodies, and all the while subtly coach the young, rising-star photographer Rafael Pavarotti on how best to capture the movement of the clothes. Between takes they check the monitors; being “bossy ladies” (Cindy’s term), they offer corrections. Naomi never gives up the heels, even when her costars are barefoot. It’s a master class in commitment. But how odd it must be to be in a back-to-the-future version of your own life! And even odder to have spent a life working at being beautiful when you are naturally, by any gauge, gorgeous. When Edward Enninful, who has known them all for decades, charmingly references an episode of 30 Rock in which Tina Fey’s character dates a man (played by Jon Hamm) who is so handsome that he unknowingly lives in a bubble of special treatment and privilege, it is Cindy, who has literally made beauty her brand, who smiles first in understanding.
Oh, but that bubble is intoxicating. How it blew up and why it continues to mesmerize the globe more than three decades later is now the subject of a four-part documentary entitled The Super Models, set to debut September 20 on Apple TV+. Directed by Roger Ross Williams and Larissa Bills for Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment, the series paints in both broad and fine strokes a picture of the style community in the late ’80s to mid-’90s, when high fashion went from a niche hobby for aspirational clothes hounds to a pillar of mainstream entertainment standing alongside film, television, and music. Says Grazer, with his characteristic offhand foresight, “I think I was just tripping on the fact that this was a cultural moment that became singularly important.” At the center of this transformation were Christy, Naomi, Cindy, and Linda, four teens and barely teens whose rare combination of extraordinarily photogenic features, born-with-it confidence, quick wit, intuitive style, intense curiosity, and utterly bananas work ethic flipped the switch for the industry.
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