The term supermodel refers to those few models who consistently model for top luxury brands, appear on high-profile fashion runways and magazines, garner large paychecks, and are considered international celebrities. The “birth” of the supermodels, as some industry insiders call it, resulted from a unique confluence of factors that have not been seen before or since, making the supermodel moment a rare one in fashion history. Consequently, supermodels of today, although well paid and frequently photographed, rarely achieve the same hefty paychecks and saturation of exposure enjoyed by supermodels in the 1980s and 1990s.

Although the term supermodel has been bandied about since 1943, when model agent Claude Dessner used the word in a model how-to book, the supermodels who gave the term its current meaning ...

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