Most Famous and Successful Short Supermodels in Fashion History
Twiggy’s figure and general silhouette actually led to a change in the modelling ideals. From thinner ladies to higher pay, it was Twiggy who set the stage for the modern modelling industry to be built upon. Add to that the fact that she earned £80 an hour when the average wage was £15 a week and you have the makings of one of the most famous petite female supermodels to reach such incredible success.
What/ Who Is a Model?
A model is an individual, male or female, young or old, who takes on the role of promoting and displaying products, particularly fashion clothing, in order to serve as a walking, talking, breathing visual aide for the creative arts.
Modelling as a profession was established by Charles Frederick Worth in 1853, when he had his wife model the clothing designs he had created in the category of haute couture. Soon, it became a common practice for Parisian fashion houses and each kept their own “house mode” in order to help advertise their latest works of art.
Soon the profession began to include photo modelling as well, with one of the best-known models having been Lisa Fonssagrives from the 1930s. With over 200 Vogue covers to her name, she was one lady who would shape the careers of fashion models everywhere for years to come.
First Modelling Agency
The first modelling agency was opened up in 1946 by Eileen and Gerard Ford, located in New York, and is currently the oldest one to be found in the world. The Ford Models agency would later also herald the precursor to model housing by allowing teen models from out of town to reside with the innovators from the 1960s onwards, while also ensuring that their ladies were paid advances on the money they were owed.
Later in the 1970s, Ford Models would also pioneer the concept of scouting as it began bringing in Scandinavian models that were tall and leggy, with blonde hair and blue eyes. Ford would also begin supermodel competitions and bring in an exotic taste from Brazil, eventually leading to the establishment of Ford Models Brazil.
Who Should Be A Model?
While initially models would come in all shapes and sizes and would be paid quite poorly, it was in the 1940s and 1950s that this began to change as well. Jinx Falkenburg was the first model to be paid a large sum of money, amounting to $25 an hour, a sum that would convert to about $250 in today’s currency, taking inflation into account. That is a whopping number and one that extremely few make today as well.
In the beginning, models were not known outside the fashion industry. They were also a whole lot more voluptuous, with Wilhelmina Cooper’s measurements at 38″-24″-36″ and Chanel Iman’s at 32″-23″-33” in size. Here is where pin up models originated and the next decade would bring about a new revolution in of itself.
With London as the hub that procured the best ladies in the profession, we suddenly began to find models like Jean Shrimpton, Joanna Lumley, Tania Mallet, Celia Hammond, Twiggy, Penelope Tree, and Pauline Stone spoken about all over the place, suddenly becoming household names.
Throughout the years, Twiggy has probably been the most well-known female to enter the industry, becoming the face of ’66 by the age of 16 and the biggest anomaly in the profession at the time.
While the model agencies were certainly not as restrictive as they are today, it was not a common sight to sign on a shorter model, particularly one who stood at 5’6 and had a 32” bust. Add a boy’s haircut to the combination and you are left with a very strange addition to the models’ line up.
Of the best known and most successful short models to walk that runway, there were many throughout the past few decades, who were an anomaly. We have mentioned Twiggy already, the one woman who changed the course of fashion history, but there are many others who were too short to make the listings but somehow grew to be superstars on that catwalk.
Of course, there are different types of modelling and each has its own requirements.
• Editorial/Fashion: This is a very tight category with strict requirements when it comes to height and weight. Models required in this category are normally featured in magazines or walk the runway shows. Here, women need to be 5’8” or over, up to 6’0” and weigh up to 120 pounds.
• Commercial: In the commercial modelling category, weight and height are certainly not as absolute and can include all types of models. Generally women are expected to be between 5’6” and 5’11” but it is not set in stone. You have plus sized models as well, who wear up to size 18 but are expected to be taller, their height reaching 6’2” even.
As mentioned, sometimes models break the mold and become a beacon of light on their own, despite the restrictions placed on success if you differ from the accepted values. The most successful supermodels of late have not always been very tall, with Kate Moss standing tallest at 5’7” (or 5’8” – depending on who you ask) without her heels.
The right photographers helped the shorter supermodels reach international fame, becoming household names and multi-million dollar worth stars in the industry.
So the most successful short supermodels in fashion history are:
1. Devon Aoki (5’5” / 1.65 m)
Possibly one of the shortest supermodels out there, Devon Aoki was scouted and at the age of 16 became the new face for Versace, replacing the world’s most renowned supermodel, Naomi Campbell. Her height is reason for speculation to this day as it was a rare sight to see such a petite girl appear as the face of such a prestigious fashion house.
Scouted at the age of 14, she reached fame by being a Kate Moss protégé. She has been part of runway shows and campaigns for Chanel, Moschino, Hugo Boss, Yves Saint Laurent and Fendi.
2. Eva Pigford (Marcille) (5’5” / 1.67 m)
A woman of color, Eva Pigford was the winner of the third season of America’s Next Top Model. She changed her name to Eva Marcille once she started acting as well. Even at her rather short height of 5’5”, she still ended up modelling for DKNY, Cover Girl, and to appear in such magazines as Elle and Essence.
3. Marilyn Monroe (5’5” / 1.66 m)
American actress, singer and all time model, Marilyn Monroe is very well known as one of the most famous of the shorter supermodels in history. She became a major sex symbol and her images still grace our memories and our walls.
Born Norma Jeane Mortenson, she bleached her hair to fit the needs of the Blue Book modelling agency. With her new name of Marilyn Monroe, she took the industry by storm. She would soon become an international success and even after death remembered rather fondly.
4. Twiggy (5’6” / 1.72 m)
We’ve already mentioned Twiggy’s role in changing the fashion industry, turning it topsy-turvy and really bringing to us the concept of the major mascara look. She was the most famous model of the 1960s and has appeared in 13 fashion shoots for different editions of the Vogue magazine.
She is also a singer and actress, a career she transitioned to easily after working with the top photographers in the world.
5. Jenny Shimizu (5’6” / 1.68 m)
She’s appeared on television shows like America’s Top Model and she is renowned for her work with some of the top designers in the world. That includes her Calvin Klein CK1 ads, as well as those for Jean Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler, Banana Republic and Donna Karan.
She’s even appeared on the television show called Make Me a Supermodel. She is definitely one of the most famous short models we have today.
6. Laetitia Casta (5’6” / 1.69 m)
A French supermodel by origin, Laetitia Casta was a very young girl when first discovered at the age of 15 and has found incredible success as both a model and an actress. In the past, she has modelled for some pretty big houses, including Louis Vuitton, Vivienne Westwood, Ralph Lauren, Roberto Cavalli, and so many others.
She has also found herself appearing on magazine after magazine, including Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan, and others. She has also been the brand ambassador for L’Oreal Paris cosmetics since 1998, before the turn of the century.
7. Audrey Marnay (5’6” / 1.73 m)
There are many French models who also turn to acting and Audrey Marnay is certainly one of them. Standing at 5’6” tall, she is one of the shorter supermodels to have been so coveted as to have walked for Calvin Klein, Versace and others, alongside appearing on magazine covers for Ella and Vogue.
Her resume also includes working with some renowned photographers as well, including Jean-Baptists Mondino and Steven Meisel.
8. Josie Maran (5’6” / 1.70 m)
The incredibly gorgeous and famous Josie Maran may have found success but if it were only her height to take into question, she would never even have been scouted. She has, however, appeared on the cover of Glamour magazine at the age of 20, while following up with two different Guess campaigns.
She’s signed a multi-year contract with Maybelline while also having been known for her appearances in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
9. Liberty Ross (5’6” / 1.73 m)
While many of the shorter supermodels are French beauties, Liberty is of the British stick and has much to offer the fashion industry. Despite her height, she has managed to work for some of the biggest brands as well, including Jimmy Choo and Burberry, Dior and Emanuel Ungaro.
She was given honours at Model of the Year in 2000 at the Elle Style awards. Her three-year break has caused a bit of a rift in her career though and it will take a while before she is able to regain her standing in the industry.
10. Lydia Hearst (5’7” / 1.73 m)
She is a socialite and an heiress. That is quite the lethal combination when added to a modelling career and a bombshell body which has effectively launched her in the fashion world as one of the most successful to walk the runway, despite being under the expected requirements for height.
She has worked for Prada and Louis Vuitton, DKNY and Roberto Cavalli, while also making the cover of international editions of the Vogue magazine.
11. China Machado (5’7” / 1.73 m)
Born in Shanghai, China, Noelie Dasouza Machado, also known as China Machado, was a top notch fashion model and fashion editor who made major waves in the fashion industry. As the first non-Caucasian to appear on the cover of a major American fashion magazine, she made headlines after gracing the February 1959 issue of Harper’s Bazaar.
After travelling for years and personal misadventures, her move to Paris brought with it a modelling opportunity for Hubert de Givenchy. She stayed with the house for three years, at which point she was the highest paid model earning around $1000 a day. She would later work for Christian Dior and Balenciaga as well.
Her modelling may have met with resistance at some points in her life but she ended up opening the door for many others of color to enter the runway, including supermodels Jourdan Dunn, Naomi Campbell and Sessilee Lopez.
12. Selita Ebanks (5’7” / 1.76 m)
Another supermodel of color, Selita Ebanks is an incredible beauty with a face that denotes power. Her muscular body is exactly what the Victoria’s Secret Angels like to have, which is why she had joined their ranks from 2005 to 2009. That was not her only accomplishment though!
She may be shorter than the usual, but she had managed to become the 12th highest paid supermodel in the world in 2008. She has done campaigns for DKNY and Abercrombie & Fitch, while also appearing in a 2007 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
13. Dayle Haddon (5’7” / 1.70 m)
Canadian actress and model Dayle Haddon may be in her 60s today but she was quite the supermodel but a few years ago, credited as the author of Ageless Beauty: A Woman’s Guide to Lifelong Beauty and Well-Being. She is known for promoting L’Oreal manufactured anti-aging products and has been in the fashion business for over 30 years.
Born in Montreal, Canada, she was a member of Les Grand Ballets Canadiens at the tender age of 13 and was later chosen as Miss Montreal upon reaching 18 and adulthood.
She is a woman who shattered the age taboos with her multi-year contracts with Estee Lauder and L’Òreal Paris. In the 1970s and ‘80s, she represented Max Factor, Revlon, Estee Lauder and L’Oreal among others, appearing on the 1973 Sports Illustrated magazine and twice named one of the 10 most beautiful women according to Harper’s Bazaar. Up until 1998, she was starring in movies as well.
14. Bambi Northwood-Blyth (5’7” / 1.73 m)
Also known as BNB, Stephanie (Bambi) Northwood-Blyth is a Melbourne born Australian model who turned to the world of fashion when she missed out on enrolling at university.
The 24-year-old woman began modelling in 2009 at the age of 18, but it wasn’t until a year later that she would hit the international circuit and walk for top brands such as Chanel, Balenciaga, Rag & Bone, and Topshop Unique at the spring/summer 2010 runway shows, before closing for Diesel.
From 2011 onwards she would be taking the fashion realm by storm, modelling for the H&M spring ad and walking for Jill Stuart and Thierry Mugler. She’s graced the cover of Vogue Nippon, become the face of the CK one Calvin Klein fragrance and is a rising star in the industry. She’s also shorter than models are expected to be so we await to see what will become of our Aussie princess.
15. Yamila Diaz-Rahi (5’7” / 1.73 m)
Currently 39 years of age, Yamila Diaz-Rahi is stunning beyond belief and an Argentinian model that can take the world by storm. A combination of Lebanese and Spanish descent, she was discovered in 1996 in Uruguay and has since worked around the world.
In 1999 she made it onto the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, going for the cover in 2002 and once again in 2006, the last as part of an All-Stars special. GQ, Glamour, Maxim, Elle, and Shape have all placed her on their covers as well, while she has also been in multiple catalogues and advertisements, such as for Bebe, Ungaro and Victoria’s Secret.
The first Latin spokes model in CoverGirl history, she was waves in the fashion industry.
16. Georgia May Jagger (5’7” / 1.70 m)
Georgia May Jagger might get her popularity from being the daughter of rock and roll royalty Mick Jagger, but she is a bombshell in her own right, a supermodel worthy of praise. Even her mother was model royalty, Jerry Hall, and Georgia happened to follow in those same footsteps despite being an inch under the cap. Throughout her career, she has walked for Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and others.
17. Charlotte Free (5’7” / 1.70 m)
American supermodel Charlotte Free is the face of Maybelline and uses her pink-dyed hair to get a whole lot of attention from the Internet. She may be shorter, but she is very much the exceptional beauty who has walked for the likes of Chanel, opening the label’s cruise 2015 show, and appearing for the brand’s eyewear campaigns.
18. Cara Delevingne (5’7” / 1.73 m)
One of the best known supermodels of today is probably the famous Cara Delevingne, standing at either 5’7” or 5’8”, depending on the source. She has walked for so many brands, we have lost track of it, but they have included Saint Laurent, Burberry, Fendi and so many others.
She does covers constantly now and appears at every party imaginable. Even she does not know her own height, though what we all know is that for some, she is still too short.
19. Kate Moss (5’7” / 1.70 m)
There are no words to describe Kate Moss. She is, by definition, positively perfect! She became a household name soon after popularizing the “heroin chic” look of the 1990s, and has appeared all over the place, including on the runway shows for Calvin Klein, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel.
Many aspiring supermodels go to Kate Moss to be her protégé and find their own place in the fashion industry, launching big the same way we saw Devon Aoki make it. After all, if we can see models as short as 5’5” on the runways, we might still stand a chance of making it there ourselves.
20. Camille Rowe (5’7” / 1.70 m)
French American model and actress Camille Rowe is a tiny girl with a size 4 dress, a 5’7 height and size 7 shoes. Born in Paris to a model and dancer of a mother, it was expected to see her enter the business herself, despite her more petite stature.
Spotted in 2008, Rowe has appeared in campaigns for Dior Homme, Chloe, 3 Suisses, H&M, Louis Vuitton, Victoria’s Secret, Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch, as well as Tommy Hilfiger. She has also seen many a feature on the covers of magazines such as Vogue Paris, Elle, L’Officiel, CRASH, Marie Claire, and Madame Figaro.
21. Emily Ratajkowski (5’7” / 1.70 m)
She is short, she is young and she is so not good at dancing. However, this 23-year-old American model and actress rose to fame through Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” controversial song and music video, while her appearances in Gone Girl and We Are Your Friends had also given her a small measure of fame.
A model of very small stature, she is under the height standards at a mere 5’7”, her dress size measuring at 2 and her track record already placing her in erotica and high fashion. On the cover of erotic magazine “treats!” in March 2012, she also made it onto GQ, Cosmopolitan, and FHM. Hers is the life of nude and semi-nude modelling, using her sexuality to get ahead in the industry.
She was signed by Ford Models at the age of 14 and used this career to launch her into the world of acting. She plans on breaking the modelling mould once again by bringing back a few curves, stating that one needs not be 5’9” and an A-cup in order to be a successful model.
22. Marisa Miller (5’8” / 1.73 m)
While the 5’8” height may be right on the cusp of the modelling agency requirements, those who have not past this mark are still certainly considered to be petite supermodels, despite towering over all the rest. Marisa Lee Miller is an American supermodel standing at 5’8” and having been best known for her appearances in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue as well as modelling for Victoria’s Secret.
This blonde bombshell is a page out of every man’s fantasy book, wherein even the ripe age of 36 does not diminish her allure. Scouted at the age of 16, she has quickly become one of the most coveted supermodels in the industry, a sex symbol that makes it into the top 100 of the hottest females.
At her height, she is but a size 2 in dress and a size 7 in shoes. With her appeal, it is no wonder she was chosen to wear the 2009 Victoria’s Secret Fantasy Bra featuring 2300 white, champagne and cognac diamonds, a 16-carat heart shaped brown-yellow diamond pendant dangling from it, costing a whopping 3 million dollars.
23. Isabella Rossellini (5’8” / 1.73 m)
Isabella Fiorella Elettra Giovanna Rossellini is an Italian actress and model, who currently looks quite incredible at the age of 62 and still standing quite tall, despite her “petite” status a 5’8” throughout her modelling days. Her 14-year tenure as a Lancome model really made her shine bright in the industry.
Starting her career as a model late into her life, she walked the runway at the age of 28, appearing throughout her lifetime in British Vogue, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, and ELLE.
She was in her 40s already when she retired from being the face of Lancome, before she really caught the attention of all as she was made the inaugural brand ambassador for the Italian Silversea Cruises company in 2004. To this day, she is very much the actress, despite having moved on from modelling.
24. Gia Carangi (5’8” / 1.73 m)
She was a model taken from us way too soon. By the age of 26, Gia Marie Carangi had already been making headlines, featured on the cover of fashion magazines and with her whole life ahead of her.
Standing at 5’8”, Carangi was considered to be one of the first supermodels, who was also a favourite of the Armani, Christian Dior, Versace and Yves Saint Laurent houses before drug abuse and HIV ended up taking her life too early.
She signed with Wilhelmina modelling when she was but 17 and had her career last less than a decade. She was merely Gia in those days and her career was such a success.
25. Marisa Berenson (5’8” / 1.73 m)
Born Vittoria Marisa Schiaparelli Berenson, Marisa Berenson is an American actress and model, who has certainly not lost her charming beauty. Standing at 5’8” in her prime, the now 68-year-old woman came into prominence in the 1960s where was among the ranks of the highest paid models in the world.
Appearing on the cover of Vogue and Time magazines, she was later dubbed by Yves Saint Laurent with “the girl of the Seventies” title, alongside being known as the Queen of the Scene. From modelling she got into film, with her latest stint having been 5 years ago in 2010.
26. Yaya DaCosta (5’8” / 1.73 m)
American Actress Yaya DaCosta has taken to using the name Yaya Alafia. A model of color, she was the runner-up in cycle 3 of the “America’s Next Top Model” show. The 32-year-old beauty from Harlem, New York, has us spellbound with her antics, her size 2 figure just what the industry wants.
She’s advertised for Garnier Fructis, Lincoln Townhouse, Oil of Olay, Radioshack, Seda, Sophora and Dr. Scholl’s. Her acting career has also soared through the roof, making her one of the more petite models to make it big in modern times.
27. Anouck Lepere (5’8” / 1.74 m)
Belgian model Anouk Lepere is from Antwerp and began her career in modelling after quite a bit of persuasion from Dries Van Noten and Olivier Theyskens. An architecture student turned fashion star, the now 36-year-old beauty appeared on the runways in Paris in 2000.
She is currently signed on with IMG models and has done work for Delvaux and the Hugo Boss “Woman” and “Deep Red” perfumes. She’s appeared on the covers of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire and other such magazines, as well as the French edition of Playboy.
This is one lady who certainly has the right height, albeit being right on the cusp, while also fitting into a size 4 dress.
Photos courtesy of Zimbio
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