#1 Flaunt Your “Flaws”
Supermodel: Cindy Crawford
Year Discovered: 1982
Social Handle: @cindycrawford
Instagram Followers: 1.1M
Career Highlight: 18 Vogue Covers
It’s hard to imagine a Cara or a Kendall reaching super status without the help of social media. But digital limitations didn’t stop Cindy Crawford from becoming a household name; working with top photographers Richard Avedon and Herb Ritts; walking for Chanel, Ralph Lauren and Valentino; and anchoring Versace campaigns and Pepsi Super Bowl ads alike. And that’s thanks, in part, to a beauty mark–turned–money-maker. “Isn’t it ironic that the very thing that made me most insecure turned out to be my trademark?” she muses in her coffee-table book, released last fall. In the ’90s, she became one of the “big five” (alongside Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington and Claudia Schiffer), and in 1994 she was officially the highest paid of them all, raking in $6.5 million. Today, she’s a mythical, lyrical simile (remember “phat like Cindy Crawford”?) and, more importantly, a bona fide brand.
Now 50, Crawford recently announced her retirement from modelling—all the better to pursue her myriad side gigs.
There are her momager duties, coaching 14-year-old daughter Kaia Gerber, who landed a spot in Alexander Wang’s spring ’16 campaign (her son, Presley, is also signed to IMG Models). Plus, she designs furniture for Cindy Crawford Home; recently launched a tome of her most famed images with personal essays; and fronts Meaningful Beauty, her “youth-enhancing” skincare line (note the lack of “anti” phrasing from the graceful ager), said to bring in $100 million per year.
That latter income stream followed a 14-year stint with Revlon. When she snagged her first cosmetics contract, the entrepreneur-in-training didn’t merely pout for the company’s campaigns. “You can learn a lot from just being in the room with really smart marketing and advertising people,” she says at the Toronto fête for her book launch. But the ultimate lesson came from within. “As I’ve started my own business and looked at the experts, I’ve realized I’m the expert on Cindy Crawford. No one knows Cindy Crawford like me.” —Tara MacInnis
#2 Go Your Own Way
Supermodel: Daria Werbowy
Year Discovered: 1997
Social Handle: @dotwillow
Instagram Followers: 121K
Career Highlight: Earned 4.5 million last year
Despite being the face of a major beauty brand, Daria Werbowy seldom wears a lick of makeup—“sometimes, even no moisturizer!” she jokes. Today, in Toronto to promote Lancôme’s new palette of 16 mostly neutral eyeshadows, the 33-year-old veteran model is wearing a wash of brown shadow. “I like contouring in the eye socket, so I use this taupe colour a lot,” she says, before regaling me with a few of her pastimes: surfing, sailing (she crossed the Atlantic in 2008) and fermenting sauerkraut. “You should definitely do it,” she urges me on the latter. “It’s really friggin’ easy.”
A free spirit since birth, the Poland-born, Canada-raised beauty studied at Cawthra Park, an arts-focused high school in Mississauga, Ont.: “My brother and sister were valedictorians, but I wasn’t a studious person.” Werbowy signed with an agency at 14 and six years later moved to New York. Her wide-set blue eyes and sharp bone structure soon caught the attention of photographer Steven Meisel, who shot her for Prada. In 2005, she set a record for opening and closing the most shows in one season, scored the Lancôme contract and became the face of Chanel and Missoni. In 2008, she walked out on all of it.
Needing a break from the fashion world, Werbowy left New York and went to India, where she learned to smear mustard oil on the soles of her feet to draw out toxins. She went to Peru and helped build a school. Ever since, she’s only worked in short bursts—“I like to do things that inspire me”—and regularly goes off the grid.
On her inconspicuous @dotwillow Instagram page, you’ll find mostly samples of her own photography. “It’s become a thing that I can use for a creative outlet,” she explains. More and more, she’s working behind the lens, including for Equipment’s spring campaign, for which Werbowy shot fellow major Kate Moss. “Because, technically, I’m not sound in photography, and I’m winging it 99.99999 percent of the time, I just have to trust my instinct of what I feel looks good.” (The resulting retro-raw aesthetic feels more art than ad.)
She has no plans for what’s next. “I know that sounds strange. But the other day, a friend asked me, ‘What’s your biggest dream?’ and I could not answer. In the past, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what that is and trying to create it, and I missed out on a lot of things I could have done. Now, I’m taking it as it comes.”
What would get Werbowy back on the catwalk? (She last appeared in Balenciaga’s spring 2014 show, mostly because then-designer Alexander Wang is a bud.) “A meeting with God,” she says with a laugh. “Maybe.” —Caitlin Kenny
#3 Twirl On Your Haters
Super Model: Coco Rocha
Year Discovered: 2002
Social Handle: @cocorocha (One-year-old daughter Ioni is @ioniconran)
Instagram Followers: 1M
Career Highlights: Known for striking 50 poses in under 30 seconds
“The nerdiest kid you can remember in school.” That’s how Coco Rocha describes herself as a teenager in Richmond, B.C., wearing baggy sweatshirts, bell-bottoms and gym shoes (admittedly, a look that would land her extra style cred today). “I was very tall, and I remember girls saying, ‘Your boobs aren’t the same size as ours.’” She steered clear of makeup (as a competitive Irish dancer, she associated it with performing) and got blonde streaks in her brown hair to match her peers’. “I wouldn’t say I had a ton of self-esteem,” the 27-year-old recalls. “I wanted to be accepted.”
Cut to today, where a single selfie can fetch the top model more than 20,000 likes on Instagram, and her new athleisure-inspired clothing collection, Co + Co by Coco Rocha, has just been picked up by Simons. But her rise has had its bumps. “At the beginning, you’re the new girl and everything you do is great. Then, suddenly, the things that were amazing aren’t so amazing anymore,” Rocha explains.
“I have buckteeth. That was applauded, and then it was like, ‘Why are your teeth so big?’” Being able to see the bigger picture helped Rocha cope. “I realized that the person who said ‘no’ one year would later be like, ‘You’re going to be the face of my campaign!’”
Indeed, she’s repped Chanel, Balenciaga and Longchamp over the course of her decade-long career, and now, speaking at the launch of Burt’s Bees first full-pigment lipstick line, she adds the natural beauty brand to the list. She’s made major makeup advances since her dance days and now uses colour to create a mood. “Makeup, to me, is like putting on a different costume every day. I feel more madam in darker colours and more kiddy in lighter ones.”
But as a new mom (daughter Ioni is one), Rocha wants to avoid the superficial when it comes to confidence stoking. “It’s important to tell someone about their inner self, what they bring to the table, what they’ve accomplished.”
She’s already introduced the youngster to social media, unworried about the trolls. “For any of us, models or not, we have to realize there are haters,” she says. “Don’t take anything personally.” —C.K.
#4 Smash The Mold
Supermodel: Soo Joo Park
Year Discovered: 2012
Social Handle: @soojmooj (instagram), @soojoo (twitter)
Instagram Followers: 362K
Career Highlights: Chanel runway regular, recently graced the covers of Grazia France and L’Officiel Australia
Soo Joo Park was getting bookings when her hair was still jet black, but it was only after she went platinum that legendary editrix Carine Roitfeld took notice, casting the Korean-American for a shoot in the sophomore issue of CR Fashion Book. “I’m not saying I was the first, but [in 2013] there weren’t a lot of girls bleaching their hair,” the 30-year-old tells me during Paris Fashion Week. “I made the decision to change my look when it wasn’t the trend.”
“I’ve always embraced non-traditional beauty,” she continues, as I take in her gold brocade Lanvin dress—“I think it’s from 2014”—wide eyes and long limbs (she looks like a character from The Chrysalids). In striking contrast to the Redken and L’Oréal Paris spokesperson’s insectile beauty is her super chill vibe, a by-product of her Cali upbringing. Though she was born in Seoul, Park’s family moved to Anaheim when she was 10, where she lived prior to studying architecture at the University of California at Berkeley.
“I was pretty nerdy until university, when I got into the whole indie scene and started wearing skinny jeans and had jagged Karen O hair,” says the model, who was discovered after graduation while shopping in a vintage store. Park’s current ’do retains that choppiness but looks like cornsilk thanks to a meticulous regimen, which includes silk pillowcases, regular sessions with hair-colour virtuoso Dhaniel Doud and loads of products. “I use the entire Redken Extreme line religiously, which takes me an hour and a half twice a week. And I bring the Extreme Length Sealer with me everywhere, since it’s TSA-approved.”
The frequent flyer, who is currently based in New York, walked the runway for Chanel’s airline-themed spring collection just the day before our chat. Though she’ll hop the pond for Karl any time (Roitfeld introduced them), Park’s not making a lot of catwalk appearances these days. “It’s a love-hate thing for me when it comes to shows,” she says. “Plus, right now it’s all about ingenues or new faces.”
While she applauds the fashion industry’s increasing diversity, she finds it troublesome that non-white models are still being branded as “other.” “I don’t want to be the Korean model; I want to be Soo Joo.” Still, she’s incredibly proud of her birthplace. “Seoul’s an amazing city and growing so fast. I go back a lot for work,” she says while smoothing the back of her hair, which makes me notice its underside is still dark. I ask if it’s her natural hue. She smiles and nods: “I’ve had this patch ever since I started bleaching my hair. It’s a reminder of where it, and I, came from.” —Cameron Williamson