50 Models Who Changed Fashion History, According to Nigel Barker
“Models have stood as personifications and symbols of their times,” says fashion photographer Nigel Barker. The former America’s Next Top Model judge just released Models of Influence, a 255-page tome featuring photos of 50 legendary models that have changed the course of fashion since the 1940s. “Their creativity, talent, and ability to tell a story without words have pushed society and its standards of beauty ever forward,” Barker tells InStyle.
From fashion icons like Twiggy to Kate Upton and Cara Delevingne of today’s Instagram-savvy It girls, Barker’s book journeys through the history of modeling—and takes a look at what it means to be at the top of the game now. “The term ‘supermodel’ has become so overused that it’s lost almost all of its meaning,” Barker says, adding that the label should only apply “when a model has transcended the limitations of her field and crossed over into new territories---both in the business and at large---through her influence upon contemporary standards of beauty.”
Terminology aside, each woman featured in Barker’s book has certainly made her mark—and not just when it comes to modeling. “I wanted to write a book that went into depth about the influence fashion and beauty has on society,” he says. “Certain models were and remain catalysts and pioneers fighting to change the global perspective.”
Scroll down to find out why Barker chose to include some of our favorite photos (out of 110 total!) in Models of Influence. To see more, order a copy of the book today from amazon.com ($40).
1. Christie Brinkley
"With her sunny good looks and buoyant personality, Christie Brinkley epitomized an American ideal of beauty: blond, athletic, friendly, unassuming, and seemingly ready for anything—like a high school cheerleader whose good looks and energy actually improved after graduation."
2. Jerry Hall
"Enter Jerry Hall, a 6-foot-tall Amazon from Mesquite, Texas, with mile-long legs, a wide mouth that was either smiling or snarling, corn-blond hair styled like film vixen Veronica Lake’s trademark tresses, and fearless composure."
3. Kristen McMenamy
"Striking, shocking, ferally sexy, sometimes pretty and always inspiring, the world took notice when she cut her naturally curly, long red hair into the severe black crop that transformed her facial features from slightly off to sculptural."
4. Coco Rocha
"Coco is known for her poses, but that face of hers is unusual by modeling standards. She’s angular, with relatively thin lips, a turned-up nose, and a kind of elfin appearance, but it’s how she animates what she’s got that sets her apart."
5. Kate Upton
"An all-American pinup—5 foot 10 with hips, D-cup breasts, and a heart-shaped face, Kate recalls a young Anna Nicole Smith. She has shown a propensity to beautiful, sculptural work with her body, and the ability to project a lot more than just apple pie."