Super league
By Dipali Paul
Friday, March 30, 2012

Model watch: so, who’s the super-est of them all?

Models, it is often thought, are meant to be nothing more than coat-hangers. So they usually are — bland faces atop airbrushed, bony bodies moving in and out of fashion’s fickle seasons. Even before they have blown out 25 birthday candles, they are over the hill. But rules don’t apply to those that are exceptional. These are the ‘supers’, women who are anything but coat-hangers. Whatever their shape, they all share a few winning characteristics: a face that’s one-of-a-kind, truckloads of personality, an ability to stay ahead of the fashion curve, and a keen business acumen that keeps them at the top of the earning heap. We give you a front-row look at the world’s hottest supers.  

Gisele Bündchen

Don’t tell anyone, but this Brazilian bombshell may soon become the first billionaire model ever. Her current estimated worth is more than $250 million, the 12 months between May 2010 and May 2011 causing an avalanche of income — about $45 million, according to Forbes — thanks to top-dollar campaigns. Discovered at 14, recognised worldwide by the age of 18, Gisele Bündchen has made her name the byword for modelling success. Her love life, quite as spectacular as her figure, helped spread the fame further — she dated megastar Leonardo DiCaprio before marrying American football player Tom Brady. In the true tradition of supers, just two months after her baby arrived in 2010, Gisele showed off just how super she was in a photo shoot for the Italian swimwear label Calzedonia, manoeuvring her unbelievable body into the sexiest of beach poses. Such campaigns maintain her public image as a bronzed goddess, and occasional catwalk appearances bring forth a reassuring frenzy of fans and photographers, but Gisele has moved far beyond that. She is a full-fledged entrepreneur now, the Bündchen empire spanning an array of products and substantial real estate investment. Her big business move came in May 2011, when she created her own brand of luxury lingerie, a sort of Brazilian version of Victoria’s Secret, sold throughout her home country. This year, the collection went global — no doubt she will need more piggy banks to stuff all the millions in. Mrs Brady is so eyeball-burning hot, her own government tried to put a lid on her sex appeal. Brazil’s ministry for women sought a ban on the Gisele-in-lingerie-and-heels ad for her collection, saying the image ‘sexualised’ women, but the world loves her too much to care. 

Kate Moss

The waif look so popularised by Kate went out with the arrival of Gisele. Other waifs of her time were forgotten not long after, but the British supermodel has managed to remain the ultimate in cool, her fan following barely dented by reports of substance abuse, her net worth almost $80 million. In 2006, a baffled Guardian asked: “Before her cocaine scandal she was worth £4 million ($6.2m) a year. Now she’s earning three times as much. Just what is Kate Moss doing right?” That’s what everyone would like to know. In the opinion of a British fashion editor, anything that Kate Moss endorses becomes a sell-out. Indeed, if the essence of Kateness could be bottled and marketed, it would become the bestselling fashion product of all time. If you can’t be Kate, you can wear Kate. The clothes created through her collaboration with Topshop, one of the world’s most successful high-street fashion chains, have been flying off the racks since 2007, and she has her own bag collection for Longchamp. Two years ago, she went one step further, striking a deal with Topshop’s Phillip Green and TV mogul Simon Cowell to sell merchandise related to shows such as Britain’s Got Talent and X-Factor. The resulting enterprise, hinted Daily Mail, could rival Disney. 

Heidi Klum  

A mother of four, Heidi Klum still has bikini-ready curves that can turn teenagers green. Those assets have played a significant role in the German’s long stay at the top and her $70 million fortune. Less than two years ago, barely five weeks after the birth of her fourth child with (now estranged) singer husband Seal, Heidi was on the catwalk for Victoria’s Secret, reinforcing the sex kitten image she has carefully cultivated through sensational swimwear photo shoots. Known as the ‘The Body’ (a moniker she shares with Australian hottie Elle Macpherson), Heidi lent that nickname to her collection for Victoria’s Secret. She has created perfumes, makeup, sportswear and maternity clothing, and her fame found yet another outlet on the telly. The Klum of Doom played hostess on the fashion design reality show Project Runway, putting contestants through playful torment. In a more recently launched show, Seriously Funny Kids, where she played tricks on unsuspecting children, Heidi was more Klum than doom. 

Naomi Campbell  

It’s a measure of her humongous popularity that when Naomi Campbell testified at the UN war crimes tribunal late in 2010 on whether or not she handled conflict diamonds, the BBC broadcast the proceedings all day. That’s the sort of coverage garnered by events like the earthquake in Japan or the Will-Kate wedding. All Naomi did was sit there in a sedate skirt suit, uttering short sentences. You can, then, imagine the storm she causes when the skirt suit comes off to reveal a body any 20-year-old would die for. Topped by that hair, that smile, those eyes, that attitude, the body has kept Naomi in the business for about 15 years now — the Givenchy Fall-Winter 2011-12 campaign gives full play to her inner black panther. She is the only one among the six ‘supers’ of the Nineties (the others being Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington and Stephanie Seymour) who is a familiar face in glossies even now. Claudia is still around, and Christy has made a comeback of sorts, but Naomi never left the spotlight for a minute. Besides modelling, the Brit’s estimated $48 million fortune rests on film and music gigs, a perfume line and a restaurant venture. She might throw things at people when angry, but she sure hasn’t lost her head for business.  

Natalia Vodianova 

The Russian has had a fairytale story — megamodel status before she hit 20, marriage to a wealthy British aristocrat, and a talent for pulling off fabulous fundraisers. Though the decade-long marriage soured last year, her career hasn’t suffered the slightest hiccup. Despite three children, her slender curves are still perfect for showing off sexy intimates from the French brand Etam, and peek-a-boo dresses from Stella McCartney Fall-Winter 2011-12. Sitting on a neat pile of about $24 million, Natalie is not just all body, but all heart, too. Her Naked Heart Foundation has been raising serious sums of money for playgrounds in Russia, the country where she was a vegetable stall girl before the scouts found her. With such a hypnotic gaze and star quality, it’s a wonder she didn’t step into films before, but now Hollywood is getting those Vodianova vibes — she was cast in the epic Clash Of The Titans, and quite aptly, the role was of Medusa, whose eyes could turn a man into stone. Frankly, we think Justin Portman was a bit of a fool to let her go.


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