As Heidi Klum likes to remind the world on her show Project Runway, the fashion industry is a fickle business. One day, you’re in high demand and the next, without rhyme or reason, you’re out.
Modeling has a reputation for being a superficial career based on unrealistic ideals that even a trained monkey could do… If that monkey were to lose about 60 pounds and get a full body wax, of course. But the assessment of what it takes to make it in the modeling world isn’t always entirely fair. It’s not that modelling is a particularly hard job when put into perspective, but it definitely isn’t as easy as it’s often painted out to be. Most models go through the span of their very short-lived careers, without ever achieving even a modicum of fame, fortune or success. And even the ones who do, very often don’t even get to ride that success through to the next year. There are some very notable exceptions, of course. They make up the top one percent of the entire modeling industry. Names like Cindy Crawford, Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks, Christie Brinkley and Gisele, will forever be known throughout the fashion world, whether they’re working or not. Which just goes to show that some may say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but others might argue that beauty is very often in who can score the cover of Sports Illustrated or Victoria’s Secret.
The following 15 models flaunted their goods in 2014 and earned the top paychecks according to Forbes, in the modeling world. See which ones are new faces and who was able to break the mold and withstand the test of the dreaded modeling word: time.
15. Cara Delevingne – $3.5 Million
If you haven’t heard of Cara Delevingne yet, then you probably haven’t been paying much attention. Although she’s a relatively new name in the modeling world, she’s been making a pretty big splash for such a small size. Along with being the face of Burberry beauty and YSL’s makeup campaign, Delevingne also has contracts with Mulberry, DKNY and La Perla. She has walked the runway of Victoria’s Secret fashion shows, and was named Model of the Year in 2014. She definitely makes her rounds behind the scenes, too. Delevingne has been romantically linked with Justin Bieber and Harry Styles. She also has a matching tattoo with another newcomer you’ll find on this list, beauty Jourdan Dunn.
14. Anja Rubik – $3.5 Million
Considering that this is Anja Rubik’s debut on a top earning models list, Anja Rubik is definitely an anomaly in age. At 31 years old, she’s practically 100 in model years. But, she’s certainly not afraid to break the mold and looks fabulous doing it. That’s how she’s scored campaigns as the face of Yves Saint Laurent Paris je t’aime fragrance, Hugo Boss, 7 For All Mankind, Salvatore Ferragamo’s perfume and Elie Saab’s scent. This Polish-born actress is also the host and judge of the Polish version of Project Runway.
13. Jourdan Dunn – $4 Million
Jourdan Dunn is all over the place these days, but in a very good way. She’s another new face who seems to have appeared out of thin air, but since she emerged, she hasn’t taken a break yet. She has cosmetic contracts with Maybelline and Burberry English Rose makeup, while also modeling from H&M, Target, Express and Top Shop. Oh yeah, and she has one of those Victoria’s Secret gigs, too. If that weren’t enough, along with being drop dead gorgeous, Dunn is apparently also Super Woman, able to juggle her demanding career, while taking care of her four year old son and squeeze in a little quality bestie-action with fellow model Cara Delevigne.
12. Karlie Kloss – $4 Million
It seems as though everybody loves Karlie Kloss. Victoria’s Secret loved her so much, they made her a highly-coveted Angel. Jean Paul Gaultier, Coach and Neiman Marcus all love her as well, giving her top-figure contracts. And when she cut her hair off, she was even named with having the Best Haircut Of The Year. Oh, and did we mention that she’s best friends with Taylor Swift? Even Taylor, who had a pretty stellar 2014 herself, can’t seem to break free from Kloss’ shadow, with many claiming that a lot of her popular looks (including that remarkably similar haircut) is a direct copy off of Kloss.
11. Carolyn Murphy – $4 Million
If the Fountain of Youth does really exist, there’s almost a 100 percent chance that Carolyn Murphy has found it. Not only does this 40-year-old beauty consistently outrank and earn more than competition who are young enough to be her daughters, she seems to never age while doing it! She rakes in her cash with a longstanding contract with Estee Lauder, Massimo Dutti and Jones New York. As a self-proclaimed beach bum who got discovered as a well-tanned teenager in Panama City, it’s only fitting that Murphy has worked her way onto the cover of the 2006 Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition, too.
10. Natalia Vodianova – $4 Million
Breaking into the scene by modeling for Calvin Klein fragrance worked wonders for Kate Moss. And now it doesn’t seem to be doing anything but good for Natalia Vodianova, too. She’s done so well with the Euphoria campaign, which she’s had since 2006, Klein even recently re-signed her. Her other clients include European lingerie makers Etam and a Guerlain cosmetics contract. The 32-year-old model is also the mother of four – yes, four – children. Although she came from a poverty-stricken family in Russia, the model has said that she finds modeling “unfulfilling.”
9. Hilary Rhoda – $5 Million
When she’s not unhinging jaws (and a lot of them) on the prestigious Victoria’s Secret runway, this beautiful American model, Hilary Rhoda, is chipping away at her eight-year-long Estee Lauder cosmetics contract, as well as landing a slew of other jobs with names like, Totême, Sarar and Helmut Lang. It’s certainly no doubt that she raked in a hefty $5 million in 2014, making her earn her number 9 spot on this list. We wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case in 2015, as well.
8. Alessandra Ambrosio – $5 Million
We all know her, and we all love her. She’s undoubtedly one of the most recognizable Victoria’s Secret Angels, so if you haven’t heard of Alessandra Ambrosio, you should probably come out from under that heavy rock. This 33 year old model juggles her time as a top-earning model, with other contracts with H&M and PINKO, while also having two kids at home and even a clothing line of her own, Planet Blue. Whoever said you can’t juggle being a mom and a successful businesswomen, certainly never heard of this angel.
7. Liu Wen – $7 Million
This model is a fairly new face in the highly esteemed modeling world. Liu Wen opened big doors when she walked the Victoria’s Secret runway as the first Chinese model to strut her stuff, in the famed Fashion Show. But Liu Wen’s fame certainly doesn’t end there. She also has contracts with big names such as, Estee Lauder, Espirit, H&M, Calvin Klein, Coach, all while working for Tory Burch and Lane Crawford and juggling modeling gigs in China, too. Talk about a busy schedule.
6. Miranda Kerr – $7 Million
Yet another well known Angel on the Victoria’s Secret runway, Miranda Kerr shot to massive fame when she landed the highly-coveted gig a few years back. She may have since hung up her angel wings, but that doesn’t mean that she has stopped working. Not by a long shot. Kerr landed a seven-figure contract with Wonderbra and also works with big names such as, H&M, Swarovski, Reebok, Mango and Shop Style. She also owns her own cosmetics line called Kora Organics. Her personal life made headlines recently, when she announced her divorce from actor Orlando Bloom.
5. Kate Upton – $7 Million
Everything Kate Upton seems to touch, turns to gold. One of the few models on this list that hasn’t been launched to fame by Victoria’s Secret, Upton can thank a lot of her fame to landing the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2012, and then again in 2013, and once again in 2014. Upton and her assets have also been busy with contracts under Bobbi Brown cosmetics and signing with a clothing line at Express. Upton has been criticized heavily, even by her fellow models, for being too curvy – a statement which men all across the world have laughed at since hearing, and with $7 million paychecks rolling in, chances are that Upton is probably laughing, too – all the way to the bank.
4. Kate Moss – $7 Million
Kate Moss was at the top of the modeling game when she broke out onto the scene with her controversial and scantily clad Calvin Klein ads, in the 1990s. So, it’s hard to believe that over twenty years later, she’s still at the top of the highest earners in her field. But, it’s true. Despite tumultuous relationships, some hardcore partying days, and drug problems, it seems as though Moss has shaken off the …well, moss, of her career and hit the reboot button. She returned as the face of luxury jeweler David Yurman and an ambassador for Rimmel.
3. Adriana Lima – $8 Million
And yet another beauty launched into millionaire status and made a household name by no other than Victoria’s Secret, Adriana Lima holds the official title as the longest-running Angel in Victoria’s Secret history. We are certainly not complaining. She shot her first photo with them in 2000, at 33 years old (yes, 33 years old) and still walks the runway like she owns it. She also has a massive contract with Maybelline, keeping her at the top of the highest earners in her profession, even after all these years.
2. Doutzen Kroes – $8 Million
From renowned Victoria’s Secret runways to L’Oreal cosmetics, this Dutch beauty has proven that she can do it all. Doutzen Kroes has worked with names such as, H&M, Emilio Pucci, Miu Miu and last but not least, stars as a face for a new Calvin Klein fragrance (and based on other models on this list, we know what being the face of a Calvin Klein fragrance means). She even has her own line of cashmere sweaters. And, oh yeah, she has two kids at home, too, raising the question of how this 29-year-old workaholic ever finds time to sleep or eat.
1. Gisele Bundchen – $47 Million
Everyone knows that Gisele Bundchen is absolutely gorgeous. But it’s hard to believe that not only is she this gorgeous, but she actually raked in over five times as much cash than the model directly under her on this list. But it’s true. What started off as a lucrative modeling career with Victoria’s Secret, launched her into super-stardom in which Bundchen has landed contracts with H&M, Chanel, Pantene and many other jobs working as an international spokesperson. The Brazilian beauty also has her own line of lingerie with Hope lingerie, called Gisele Bundchen Intimates. Married to NFL quarterback Tom Brady, Bundchen also tries to use her name and money for good, as an ambassador for Goodwill. When she’s not playing mommy, she can sometimes put her foot in her mouth with controversial remarks on parenting. But that hasn’t stopped her from coming in as the highest paid model in the industry for the eighth year in a row, and running strong.