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COVERGIRLS UNCOVERED: How ‘The Super Models’ Humanise The Runway

They Marked the Dawn of the Supermodel Era. Four expansive careers fitted into a four-hour docuseries. Their stories, their words, their legacy.

9 mins read

Apple TV+ premiered a new docuseries The Super Models on the 20th of September 2023. The four-part series is a celebration of careers, shared struggles, and the experiences of the industry heavyweights that took the fashion world by storm.

Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington reminisced about their expansive careers, with seemingly no topic off the table. Abuse, addiction, depression, health problems, racism, and grief were all touched upon in this authentic and raw collaboration.

The series spotlights their remarkable careers with unprecedented access to the models. In these revealing episodes, the viewers get to experience what life was like behind the camera and beyond the catwalk.

It becomes clear how such powerhouses were able to captivate a nation and together, shift the future of an entire industry.

“It wasn’t about the hair and the makeup. It wasn’t about the fashion; it was about the women.”

Christy Turlington
Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, and Linda Evangelista in ‘The Super Models.’ Image credit: APPLE TV+

They ooze style, quality, desirability, and sophistication, but what happens when you’re nothing new? Still chasing their dreams, over 35 years later, these bombshells have new focuses and aspirations that are occupying their time.

They embolden one another and, through this docuseries, are igniting a fire in all the women that watch. It’s encouraging and reminding them what it means to be truly ‘super’. It may sound cliché, but these women are reaffirming that true and significant beauty lies within.

“I wish we could just really see ourselves in the mirror non-distorted without ever having seen ourselves with a filter or retouched.”

– Linda Evangelista

The Supers are continuously cracking the façade of the perfect, idyllic life, and are rallying others to focus on having meaningful lives first and foremost.

The models swapped the front pages of magazines for the frontlines of activism, philanthropy, and business prowess. Their influence has allowed them to be change-makers globally.

Image credit: Apple TV+

The Look

In 1983, four teenagers stepped in front of a camera for the first time. What followed was an unpredictable and ground-breaking chain of events. Hardworking, change-making, impactful industry professionals were moulded out of a quartet of blank canvases.

They outlined the golden age of modelling, and were a part of the fabric of fashion.  Knowing their worth propelled these stars to the status of supermodels as they shattered barriers, including ageism and pay gaps.

They learned to use their voices at a time when women were still tethered to silence. Like everyone, they did have their challenges. The women recall times when, ironically, agents wanted to clothe them yet were simultaneously stripping them of their bodily autonomy and agency.

“They were the first influencers of fashion”

Donatella Versace

Their prestige was so extraordinary that it enabled the four to supersede the brands they showcased. They made the names Naomi, Cindy, Linda, and Christy as prominent as the designers who styled them. They were the silhouettes of the ‘90s. Although, becoming such signature women came with some traumatic experiences that the women touch upon throughout the series. Losing family and those who stuck closer than a brother, sparked conversations about dealing with loss.

L-R: Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell in a 2023 photoshoot for Vogue magazine. Photograph: Rafael Pavrotti

The Fame

For Naomi, a coping mechanism was addiction. Naomi expressed that she “kept the sadness inside”. It got so bad for the mogul that she stated, “I was killing myself.” Overcoming her addiction and dealing with her grief led Campbell to save others from addiction and teach them the appropriate tools to deal with grief and deep sorrow. Campbell stated, “You see our photo, so you feel that you know us”, yet it’s so very clear that we had no idea of what was going on behind the scenes in each of these women’s lives.
The series is far from a glamorous retelling of their lives. It delves into real heartache and gut-wrenching events that made these women who they are today. Turlington’s experience is what would be the genesis for her foundation: ‘Every Mother Counts’ which was established in 2010. Turlington’s prospects are to focus on the maternal health crisis and birth justice, that is needed for every mother worldwide.

The Power

Crawford is a driven business tycoon and self-made entrepreneur who continues to launch and oversee many of her own brands and thriving companies. Her daughter Kaia is following in Crawford’s footsteps as she pursues modelling herself and takes advice from her legendary mother during the process. Crawford’s quicksilver talent and successful genes have been passed down to the next generation.

Evangelista overcame arguably the most challenging of life struggles. From divorcing her manager Gérald Marie, implying the relationship was physically abusive, to battling breast cancer and facing a double mastectomy. The model was also a victim of a botched cool sculpting surgery, which she felt destroyed her career and ability to do the job she loved. Evangelista still remained positive in spite of her recent experiences, stating that ‘scars should be celebrated’. She went on to remark that she “wanted to be a model but, becoming a mom, that’s the most fulfilling thing that’s ever happened to me.” Evangelista has proven that state of mind is so important.

The Legacy

They overcame all and have rewritten the rulebook on modelling and what it means to hold a beauty that is more than skin deep. “The Super Models” could have effortlessly been extended into a much longer series, as these women are fountains of knowledge and unparalleled advice, yet maybe that’s the point.

Since the beginning of their careers, their images have been commoditised and enamoured by millions, and so it feels empowering that they got to tell their stories on their terms. Decades of friendship and loyalty allowed them to make a collective disruption of the fashion world. As the fashion industry continues to redefine itself — and women’s roles within it — this is the ultimate story of power and how four women came together to claim it, paving the way for those to follow.

Some events hold a magic that just can’t be replicated. They left such big shoes to fill, the question remains, can anyone ever really live up to their standard or follow in their footsteps?

Featured image credit: Apple TV+ Press

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Third-year Journalism student at the University of Stirling.

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