While the term “supermodel” can be found to regularly describe the most famous models of a given time as early as the 1960s, the term didn’t come into prominence until the mid-1980s. While there had been well-known models such as Twiggy, Lauren Hutton and Christie Brinkley, the mid-80s were the first time many models crossed the line into full-blown celebrity. This is largely attributed to a spike in sales of the annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues, the expansion of Victoria’s Secret stores into malls and the choice of many fashion and cosmetic lines regularly using models’ names in their advertising.
While some double-dipped, most of the supermodels of this area either focused on runway or print modeling and the introduction of shows such as the Cindy Crawford-hosted House of Style on MTV helped introduce the average American to the intricacies of the industry and the personalities behind the pretty faces.
By 1998, Time magazine dubbed the era of the supermodel as dead and many of the women who became household names a decade earlier were moving into other areas of the fashion industry, attempting to build an acting career or simply fading into obscurity. Here are 10 supermodels who were at the top of their profession at one time but have little-to-no public profile in 2015.
10 Paulina Porizkova
If the word supermodel hit the lexicon in the 1980s, Paulina Porizkova was undeniably the first woman who could claim the title. Porizkova was only the second woman to be featured on consecutive covers of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, in 1984 and 1985. She was also a trailblazer in the supermodel calendar world, selling hundreds of thousands of her calendars several years in a row in the late 80s. Following her 1989 starring role opposite Tom Selleck in ‘Her Alibi’ it looked like Porizkova was heading toward a movie career, but aside from a few guest starring roles and serving as a judge for three season of America’s Next Top Model, she has kept a low profile raising her children alongside her husband, The Cars lead singer Ric Ocasek.
9 Helena Christensen
Despite her numerous magazine covers, endorsement deals and philanthropic work, Helena Christensen will be remembered for one role: The hot chick in the hot video for the hot song “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak. Voted the fourth hottest video of all time in a VH-1 poll, the video features a topless Christensen, clad in only men’s briefs, rolling around on a beach and making out with Isaak. While still modeling on occasion, Christensen has made a life on the other side of the camera, with her photography appearing in Marie Claire and ELLE. She also helped launch Nylon magazine and has been a champion for raising money for breast cancer research.
8 Milla Jovovich
Many actually recognize Jovovich more for her film work than her brief time as one of the world’s top supermodels. Her introduction to the world was at the tender age of 11, landing covers of European fashion magazines despite having moved to the U.S. when she was only five. Her first starring acting role was in the barely watchable ‘Return to the Blue Lagoon’, which gained some controversy for featuring Jovovich, 15 years old at the time, in nude scenes. Memorable parts in films like ‘Dazed and Confused’, ‘The Fifth Element’ and the ‘Resident Evil’ films followed, along with dozens of other magazine covers. The beauty, who turns 40 this year, has luxury of picking and choosing her projects at this point and is slated to reprise her role of Alice in the final ‘Resident Evil’ film, due out in 2017.
7 Stephanie Seymour
Much like her contemporary Helena Christiansen, Stephanie Seymour boasts an impressive resume of modeling credits, but it's her role as the bride with the hottest wedding dress in the history of the world in the Guns N’ Roses music video for their hit ‘November Rain’. Seymour made headlines in 1993 following her break-up with GNR frontman Axl Rose, who claimed the statuesque beauty assaulted him at a Christmas party. Following the end of that relationship, Seymour met and married billionaire Peter Brant. The couple began building a family shortly thereafter and with the exception of an oh-so-brief attempt at a career as an actress, Seymour has laid low for most of the last 20 years.
6 Linda Evangelista
One of the only models of her time who sported short hair, Evangelista is well-known as the woman who boasted she didn’t get out of bed for under $10,000. With Revlon, Chanel and Versace to name just a few of her the major brands that hired the supermodel, it’s no wonder she uttered the oft-repeated and lampooned phrase, which originally appeared in a 1990 issue of Vogue. Evangelista starred with many of her fellow supermodels in George Michael’s ‘Fame 90’ music video, but by the end of the decade has slowed her appearances. The beauty recently turned 50, still models once in a while and devotes her time to a few charities.
5 Rachel Hunter
Known as much for being the former Mrs. Rod Stewart as for her modeling work, Hunter was a staple of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue during the early 1990s supermodel explosion, despite her only cover being a shared appearance with Kathy Ireland and Elle MacPherson in 1994. Hunter married Stewart, who was more than double her age in 1990 and the couple divorced in 2006. She made a run at a career in Hollywood, but quickly found her screen time limited to a bevy of American and British reality shows such as ‘Celebrity Circus’, ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and ‘Celebrity Paranormal Project.’ Hunter was most recently seen to a small audience as the host of ‘Rachel Hunter’s Tour of Beauty’ produced in her native New Zealand.
4 Naomi Campbell
It’s always nice when somebody who goes MIA resurfaces and fans of Naomi Campbell can thank the Fox Network’s ‘Empire’ for bringing Campbell back to American audiences. While Campbell disappeared from the catwalk about 15 years ago she continued with a successful print modeling career which is still flourishing overseas. In 2014, she appeared on the covers of Vogue in Turkey, Japan and Australia. She did appear on ‘The Face’, largely considered a poor copy of ‘America’s Next Top Model’ for the Oxygen Channel in 2013 and 2014. Campbell has a well-known history of being accused of, and convicted for, assault, with the most recent spat resulting in six months probation after allegedly attacking a photographer in Sicily.
3 Kathy Ireland
Kathy Ireland is worth an estimated $420 million in 2015 according to Forbes Magazine, thanks to her Kathy Ireland WorldWide company, which produces everything from clothing to baby toys to pet care products. Unlike many of her contemporaries who cultivated an image of a wild lifestyle, Ireland played to her girl-next-door image, refusing to pose nude and staying off the runway. She rose to stardom appearing in 13 consecutive Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues between 1984 and 1996, followed by a short, but somewhat successful career as an actress before starting her business.
2 Elle MacPherson
Dubbed ‘The Body,’ MacPherson can claim more Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue covers than any other model with five, the first being in 1986 and the last in 2006. Careful to cultivate a wholesome image, MacPherson finally crossed the nudity barrier in 1994, with her first major role in a film, ‘Sirens’ and a pictorial in Playboy photographed by Herb Ritts. Perhaps most interestingly, she’s the only model to ever appear on a postage stamp, having been immortalized by the island countries of Antigua and Barbuda. Through the 1990s, MacPherson popped up in movies and TV shows, most notably a popular guest spot on NBC’s friends, but has spent most of the last decade developing television shows and lines of various products.
1 Claudia Schiffer
Despite being featured on over 1,000 magazine covers, Schiffer will forever be remembered as the face, and body, of Guess? Jeans in the early 1990s. While she boasted a healthy list of acting appearances as her modeling career slowed down, Schiffer was a darling of tabloids through the late 90s because of her relationship with magician David Copperfield. The duo successfully sued a French magazine after it claimed their relationship was little more than a business arrangement prior to the couple’s break-up in 1999. Despite turning 45 years old in 2015, she still models on occasion, but keeps a low profile out of the spotlight when she’s not in front of the camera.