Unlike with most celebrities, the public’s interest in supermodels Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington has never waned. That is likely to only ratchet up again with the Sept. 20 release of “The Super Models” via Apple TV+.
To maximize the hype, directors Roger Ross Williams and Larissa Bills, Imagine Documentaries’ president Sara Bernstein and designer Todd Oldham chatted about the famous foursome Tuesday afternoon as part of IMG’s NYFW: The Talks. IMG model Ashley Graham kept things in check as moderator and attendees were shown snippets of the upcoming series. Crawford, who was known as “Cindy Inc.,” was praised for her business prowess, Playboy shoot and Pepsi commercial. Campbell, Turlington and Evangelista were described as “The Trinity.”
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Looks notwithstanding, panelists spoke of how smart, hardworking, philanthropic, and good-humored the models are. One of the more poignant parts of the discussion was about the racism that Campbell had faced, and continues to. In one clip, Evangelista said she would refuse to work if Campbell was not also hired. In another, Campbell described not getting advertising campaigns, despite her runway work. Williams recalled how Campbell “had tears in her eyes” describing the humiliation of being made to wait for eight hours at go-sees. But along with her fellow supermodels, Gianni Versace and Valentino supported Campbell.
Each model “brought something so singular and special no matter what they did,” according to Oldham. Crawford, for example, modeled a hat that he had designed to help People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals raise money for animal shelters, on a New York magazine cover topless — for free. Oldham said he was always shocked by the big magazines that advised him “to be careful with the number of people of color that you have on the runway.”
The cameos by Campbell, Turlington and Evangelista in George Michael’s “Freedom” music video was another highlight. Bernstein said that was the pivotal moment, when they became “the supermodels.” Williams said the back story as to how they came to be involved was Campbell running into Michael in a gay bar in Los Angeles and striking up a deal. Williams said, “He was like, ‘I hear you’re the leader.’ And she said, ‘Concorde tickets.’ They were obsessed with Concorde tickets. They talked a lot about Concorde tickets.”
Oldham, who is featured in the film, offered, “You needed the Concorde when you were working back and forth [between New York and Europe]. I would run into them all the time on the Concorde. It was like the taxi between London, Paris and Milan. You would save time though. It could be nine hours or two-and-a-half.”
Nothing that was said during the talk could outdo the models speaking for themselves and the archival footage of them at work and at play that is featured in the new docuseries. In closing, attendees watched a final clip of them on location now and then, backstage, on the runway and reveling out at night. Turlington said, “It’s the first time that we’re all together in our 50s.”
Campbell said “You see our photos and you feel you know us. When you come together with your chosen family, that’s emotional.”
Crawford added, “I was not seen as a person that had a voice and her own destiny.” Evangelista described how she was once told to lose “about five pounds” and she was scared that she didn’t belong. In New York last week at a Christie’s event for Phaidon, Evangelista said that all of the models had agreed not to discuss the docuseries in solidarity for the Screen Actors’ Guild strike.
In a separate interview with WWD, Campbell said, “All I can say about this docuseries is that it was meant to be a celebration. I don’t think it’s the celebration that it started out to be.”
After the talk, Oldham, who appeared on the TV show “House of Style” with Crawford, said, “I still remain madly in love with Cindy. We both had the same stalker at the same time. It was crazy.”
Crawford “couldn’t be more lovely,” the designer said. Viewers should be taken by the “longevity and power of these women. They are all incredible humans that have had extraordinary careers. I don’t know if they would have had the longevity, if they weren’t such good people. That’s the most amazing thing. They also still look like they do. That’s pretty supernatural.”
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