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Over the weekend, during the third day of rain in a row, I settled into the latest Apple TV+‘s documentary, The Super Models. I went in knowing nothing about the series and having zero expectations, and I ended up glued to the screen, watching all four episodes in one fell swoop. In a time when New York Fashion Week becomes less and less relevant each year, it felt like a prescient moment to take a look back.
Of course, I’ve been familiar with all four of the central women in the series my entire life—Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, and Cindy Crawford—but what I didn’t realize is that these women came up in the fashion industry together at the exact same time, worked together, championed each other, and became lifelong friends.
Throughout the series, each of the women peels back the layers of their lives, sharing stories that we maybe didn’t know about them before. Viewers learn fun factoids like how Naomi Campbell was roommates with Christy Turlington as teenagers in New York City, how Linda Evangelista first chopped off all of her hair, and, of course, the full story behind the decision as to whether or not Cindy Crawford was going to keep her mole is featured. For fans from the Pop Up Video era, the series goes deep on the full story of how each of these four women made their way to George Michael’s “Freedom” music video.
One of the more interesting elements of the documentary is learning about the different styles—and reputations—of the photographers these four women worked with over the years. Throughout The Super Model’s four episodes, the audience is privy to footage of the women working with big names like Steven Meisel, Arthur Elgort, Richard Avedon, and Herb Ritts. And if you happen to like watching retro footage of New York City in the 1980s, you’ll be pleased with how much is placed throughout the episodes, too.
The series doesn’t shy away from the disgusting side of the industry, either. Christy Turlington spoke about her time living at the home of Jean-Luc Brunel, a former French model scout and alleged Jeffrey Epstein associate who was found dead in 2022 after being accused of trafficking minors. She tells the camera, “Nothing happened—most of the time he wasn’t really even there” but admits that she has “survivor’s guilt” and “can’t believe” that she made it out okay.
In addition, Linda Evangelista spoke out for the first time about her ex-husband, Gérald Marie, the former head of Elite Model Management who has been accused of rape and sexual assault. In the series, Linda states “It’s easier said than done to leave an abusive relationship,” suggesting that he became physical but “knew not to touch my face.”
In a clip that feels much older than a 1986 episode of Oprah, we watch the former “queen of daytime” interview model manager Victor Skrebneski on her daytime show as his client Cindy sits next to him on stage. Host Oprah Winfrey asks him, “Did she always have this body? Stand up for a moment.” Cindy stands. Oprah replied, “Now this is what I call a body.”
In the docu-series, Cindy reflects on the cringe-inducing interaction: “I was like the chattel, or a child, like, be seen and not heard. When you look at it through today’s eyes, when Oprah’s like, stand up and show me your body. Like, show us why you’re worthy of being here. In the moment, I didn’t recognize it, only when I look back, I was like, oh my gosh, that was so not okay, really. Especially from Oprah.”
Why it matters
Through the lens of the 1980s, The Super Models takes a fascinating look back at the reality of a work environment that truly wasn’t very easy for women at the time and how they rose above it to become power and beauty personified.