No era encapsulates the fashion business in its much-mocked, stereotypical ritz-and-razzmatazz than the nineties. And of that crop of uber-glamorous, at times outrageous, designers and magazine editors, not many came close to the power and influence wielded by the original supermodels; Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangalista, Cindy Crawford and Christy Turlington.
In a much anticipated series, The Super Models, which comes to Apple TV+ on September 20, these four gather to explain their hedonistic rise, world domination, and later struggles, as they remember it. It is a gripping story; four young unknowns who earned international attention — and mammoth pay cheques — never before seen in the modelling sphere.
My fear was that this would be a lot of glossy waffle. Thankfully, not so. Cut together with Kardshian-style editing panning New York, London and Parisian skylines — which makes for sometimes naff but just-as-compelling viewing — the four stars sit down for one-on-one interviews and do not hold much back.
It is divided into four hour-long episodes titled ‘The Look’, ‘The Fame, ‘The Power’, and ‘The Legacy’, and starts by tackling the issues they faced as teenagers. Naomi Campbell touches on the racism she was subjected to, especially in New York where she would have to get Turlington to hail her taxis, while archive clips are slotted in seamlessly for added context. Crawford discusses the sexism she faced in relation to one 1986 interview with Oprah, when she was 20: “I was like the chattel. Or a child, to be seen and not heard. When you look at it through today’s eyes, when Oprah is like ‘stand up and show me your body’ … that was so not ok, really. Especially from Oprah.”
A feel-good highlight comes when the focus turns to filming George Michael’s 1990 Freedom music video, which featured all four lip-syncing and raised their profile exponentially. “We were not knowing [the impact] that video had at all, we didn’t have time to know, because honestly we were just jumping from the next country to the next country,” Campbell says. Well-placed insider interviews help the narrative throughout. “They became household names, that solidified a supermodel,” British Vogue editor Edward Enninful says of the video. Other cameos include Donatella Versace, Jerry Hall, Georgia May Jagger and John Galliano.
Of all of their openness, however, Evangelista steals the show remarkably. From the amusing — being quizzed on her infamous line “I will not get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day” (“I shouldn’t have said that… [but] if a man said it, it’s acceptable. To be proud of what you command”) — to the actually very heart-wrenching. She revisits the issues she faced following disfigurements from a fat-freezing procedure between 2015 and 2016 (“I never went out the door unless it was maybe a doctors appointment that I had to go to”) before detailing her struggle with breast cancer, and subsequent double mastectomy. “I can’t see how anyone would want to dress me. I can’t. I can’t. Now, to lose my job that I loved so much and lose my livelihood. My heart is broken. I loved my job,” she says.
By this series’ conclusion, however, you cannot help but feel invigorated. Tales of fame and fortune will do that. We see — and have seen — thousands of images of these women. But four hours of sit down chat? Quality time, compelling beauty and a much needed boost of unapologetic glamour.
The Super Models is released on AppleTV+ on September 20