The most iconic models of the current era

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Since the late 2010s, models have undoubtedly gained a larger presence in popular culture. In fact, the most prominent names in the modelling industry are celebrities in their own right, arguably replicating the fame supermodels enjoyed in the 80s and 90s. After more than a decade of models being strictly that, we’ve returned to something similar to the supermodel era, in which models are now actresses, business owners and now, with the rise of social media, influencers as well.

Models are now actresses, business owners… and influencers as well

We see them being invited to prestigious events like the Met Gala, as the faces of popular brands and having relationships with other equally famous celebrities; but who are these models that are dominating the fashion industry? From Kendall Jenner to the Hadid sisters, here are the most iconic models of the current era.

Kendall Jenner

Arguably the most prominent name on this list, Kendall Nicole Jenner is an American model, media personality, businesswoman, socialite and social media influencer. She rose to fame as a member of the Kardashian family through their reality show Keeping Up with the Kardashians and is now the highest earning model according to the Forbes top-earning models list with a net worth of $40 million. Currently, Jenner’s Instagram account is the 11th most followed on the platform. Her accomplishments include designing a fashion line with her sister Kylie, becoming a brand ambassador for Estée Lauder, and most recently, launching a Tequila company called 818.

Kaia Gerber

Kaia Jordan Gerber is an American model and actress, starting her career at 15 years old. She quickly became a rising star in the modelling industry, becoming the youngest person to be awarded Model of the Year at the annual Fashion Awards 2018 at just 17 years of age. She is the daughter of supermodel Cindy Crawford and is in a relationship with Australian actor Jacob Elordi. Some of Gerber’s career highlights include collaborating with Karl Lagerfeld to create the KarlxKaia fashion collection, becoming the face and brand ambassador of YSL beauty and appearing in several episodes of American Horror Story. In 2020, Gerber was listed as an investor for fashion magazine W, a business venture that contributes to her $3 million net worth.

Cara Delevingne

Perhaps the person in this list who has steered their career away from modelling the most, Cara Jocelyn Delevingne is an English model, actress, author and singer. Delevingne has worked with several high profile brands such as Burberry, Chanel and Victoria’s Secret, causing her to win the Model of the Year award both in 2012 and 2014. Delevingne has also appeared in several successful films, including the blockbuster Suicide Squad, Anna Karenina and Paper Towns, in which she starred. Delevingne openly identifies as bisexual, pansexual and genderfluid, making her an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. She wrote a young adult novel with an LGBT theme and publicly dated actress Ashley Benson for two years. Delevingne’s extensive career across several fields place her high in the highest earning models list, with a net worth of $28 million.

Gigi and Bella Hadid

Jelena Noura and Isabella Khair Hadid are American models, daughters of real estate developer Mohamed Hadid and former model Yolanda Hadid. The sisters are arguably the most successful models on this list as they consistently walk the biggest shows in the world, have both landed the Big Four Vogue covers and are the faces of multiple brands. They’ve both been awarded Model of the Year and top the Forbes list of highest-paid models. The Hadids have lived most of their lives in the public eye as they appeared on the reality show The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills alongside their parents. Besides these appearances in the show, they’ve both been featured in multiple films, television shows and music videos. They are also activists for many causes, including the Rohingya refugee crisis and the Black Lives Matter movement; however, the sisters are most vocal about pro-Palestinian causes and the opposition to Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13780, most commonly known as the ‘Muslim Ban’. They honour their father’s Palestinian and Muslim heritage by protesting and advocating for these causes on social media to their combined 118 million Instagram followers.

It is increasingly important to acknowledge the different levels of privilege that the people we choose to admire have

There is no denying all the models on this list have worked incredibly hard to get where they are, however, it is increasingly important to acknowledge the different levels of privilege the people we chose to admire have and how this has helped them achieve their success. All the models on this list come from affluent families with connections in the industry, connections that despite not being responsible for their accomplishments, definitely allowed them to break into and gain recognition in a very competitive industry quite easily. Arguably, this very small group of ‘nepotism models’ that gained success through their families’ wealth, connections and even fame, completely dominates the industry, therefore often excluding less recognized but equally talented models from less privileged backgrounds. The modelling industry is one where nepotism is extremely present, however, by calling this out and encouraging already successful models to acknowledge their privilege and the advantages it brings them, the modelling industry can become a more inclusive one.

Image: Madeleine2020 via flickr

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