A supermodel is a highly paid fashion model in an elite group with a worldwide reputation. The term first gained currency by analogy with Andy Warhol's "superstars" of the 1960s, and, like "superstardom", it has been inflated to include almost anyone who finds steady access to work, uncommon in the highly volatile fashion industry.
The term emerged in the 1970s, though a number of models had become famous in their own right as far back as Dorian Leigh in the late 1940s. Probably the first model whose name and face were familiar to those outside the fashion industry was Suzy Parker in the 1950s. However some note Cheryl Tiegs as the first modern supermodel, who emerged in the 1960s.
Supermodels are, almost by definition, sex symbols. Supermodels of today are globally famous, and parlay their celebrity into product endorsement deals and often into acting careers. Supermodels who have made the switch include Milla Jovovich, Elle Macpherson and Rebecca Romijn.
According to Forbes magazine, as of 2004, the five highest-paid supermodels in the world were, in descending order, Milla Jovovich, Gisele BŁndchen, Heidi Klum, Caroline Murphy, and Tyra Banks .
In the past many supermodels were female. However today more and more male models are also becoming famous. The world's most famous and highest paid male supermodel is Marcus Schenkenberg.
Last updated: 10-26-2005 10:40:07