Can you name six of them? Yet the women who ruled those same runways 20 years ago — Claudia, Naomi, Cindy, Linda, Christy and Kate — need neither introductions nor surnames. And though ’30s cover girl Lisa Fonssagrives was the first ever “supermodel,” the moniker still defines any one of that “Big Six” in the public mind.
Since their 90s heyday, there have been many short-lived trends in modelling. Models like Gisele Bundchen and Natalia Vodianova made their mark, but no new crew has come close to emulating the effect the stars of George Michael’s Freedom ’90 video had on the MTV generation.
They continue to clock up the fashion moments that extended their appeal into popular culture, including associate “Sixer” Helena Christensen’s new capsule collection for Triumph. In 1992, Gianni Versace paid their considerable catwalk fees to create the impression that the world’s most beautiful wore his brand. Dolce and Gabbana stripped them bare for their Fragrance Anthology campaign. Note: there was a 17-year gap between those two engagements. Have these women got hideous portraits in their attics? Or downed Meryl Streep’s elixir from Death Becomes Her?
All six are genetically blessed but you don’t get progressively thinner and more radiant without doing something.
Some admit to using Botox, but each looks phenomenal. And I won’t damn that statement by adding “for her age”.
At 42, Claudia Schiffer is still a Guess “girl”. The Teutonic beauty tells British Vogue she maintains a 36-24-36 figure with Pilates but doesn’t diet. “It messes up your metabolism. Instead, I eat three meals a day and lots of fruit for breakfast because it’s cleansing and quickly digested by the body and I try hard not to snack in between meals.”
She eschews caffeine and alcohol. The world knows this face of L’Oreal is still flawless sans make-up, thanks to the paparazzi who track her Notting Hill school run.
Claudia denies using Botox. Her organic skincare regime is custom-developed for her by homeopath Margo Marrone (owner of The Organic Pharmacy, www.theorganicpharmacy.com).
A resolutely sylph-like Naomi Campbell told Oprah Winfrey that she does Lemon Detox Diet three times a year. She fasts while drinking a mixture of 20ml pure maple syrup, a pinch of cayenne pepper, 300ml water and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Detoxers must down 7-10 glasses plus the obligatory two litres of water a day.
This plan can safely be followed for up to 10 days and may work for Naomi, but dietitian Dale Rees, is sceptical of its merits.
“There is no scientific evidence that a detox diet will eliminate toxins from the body. What the diet will do is ensure that you have a limited supply of calories and nutrients. It causes weight loss in the short term but in the long term could be harmful,” he warns.
Campbell, 42, whose current campaigns include Roberto Cavalli, tells GQ she does yoga or works with a trainer daily, and is adamant that she will never have Botox or cosmetic surgery. In 2006, she sued French cosmetic surgeon Dr Louis Sebagh for claiming he injects her famous face.
Kate Moss, 39, the former face of heroin chic, is glowing these days. She subscribes to her own “Vibrancy Diet,” which combines meditation with healthy eating.
Breakfast consists of probiotic yoghurt, fruit and toast. She eats lean protein with vegetables for lunch and dinner. At the bar, she sticks to drinking vodka and lemon or iced water.
“This diet is a good approach; however, I have concerns over the sustainability of such a limited palette of foods,” says Rees. Not the most rock and roll lifestyle, perhaps, but with 12 high-profile ad campaigns under her belt this year, her body isn’t the only figure that benefits.
Linda Evangelista, 47, is reportedly advised by David Kirsch, author of The Ultimate New York Body Plan. His two-week programme involves intensive cardiovascular workouts and no more than 1,200 calories a day. Alcohol, wheat, starchy carbohydrates, dairy, sugar and fruit are banned. Lean protein, vegetables and salad are consumed up to five times a day at set times. Dieters also down protein shakes.
“This flashes up all the warning signs for a diet that is far too extreme,” cautions Rees.
“It will work if you can stick to the tough plan, but you will regain all that weight once you return to your old habits. There are also dangers involved in eliminating so many essential nutrients. If you want to follow it, speak with a healthcare professional first.”
Linda describes herself as “pro-cosmetic procedure”.
“I use Botox and I’m not afraid to say it, though I do like to keep some movement in my face,” she tells US Vogue. This face of Chanel eyewear also has Thermage treatments, which tighten the skin through radio frequency.
Christy Turlington, 44, currently appearing in campaigns for Maybelline and Louis Vuitton, takes the most holistic approach. Her Ayurvedic lifestyle incorporates diet, yoga and meditation. Ayurveda is a Hindu alternative medicine based on three personal energy types, or doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. All minds and bodies are believed to be dominated by a dosha and a short questionnaire (www.whatsyourdosha.com) helps you discover what you should consume to keep your energies in balance.
Rees says: “This diet is about eliminating different food groups and following a prescribed plan. For some this may work, however, I feel it wouldn’t be sustainable and people need practical experience of day to day food choices to ensure healthy eating for life.”
Ayurveda prompted Christy’s co-development of Sundari, a skincare line that promises to help you “achieve harmony and balance in mind, body and spirit as you journey through life.” This seems a lot to ask of topical creams but Christy won’t try anything more invasive. “I would absolutely not do Botox,” she tells US Vogue.
Cindy Crawford’s portfolio recently exceeded 600 magazine covers. The 47-year-old credits Meaningful Beauty, a skincare line she developed with Dr Louis Sebagh, with preserving her complexion (though she admits to using Botox in the past).
The mother of two stays slim on The Zone Diet. This is based on biochemist Dr Barry Sears’ belief that cellular inflammation causes weight gain. Dr Sears writes that poor eating habits cause cells to become inflamed, “trapping” fat. Zone devotees divide each meal between protein, fat and fruit or vegetable-based carbohydrates in 40:30:30 ratios. They must also take Omega 3 and polyphenol (an anti-oxidant found in fruit and vegetables) supplements.
“This diet is not easy to follow; weighing all your foods can be tedious,” comments Rees. “Some aspects are good, ensuring satiety, lots of fruit and vegetables and regular eating.... It is better to get practical advice on how to incorporate healthy eating into your lifestyle.”