You don’t get supermodels like Cindy Crawford anymore.
It’s not that Crawford is sexier than Cara Delevingne, Natalia Vodianova, or Adriana Lima. But she has the all-American wholesomeness, not in vogue on the waif-packed runways.
Crawford recently described her current image as “MILF next door”, so she’s aware time has crept up.
Before modeling, Crawford famously worked as a babysitter and in the cornfields near her home in Illinois – regular, homely, all-American girl jobs. It’s hard to imagine a current supermodel who looks like an alien – Molly Blair, say – babysitting kids for her parents’ friends.
Crawford retired from modeling in 2000 at the age of 34 – a year younger than Gisele Bündchen gave up catwalks. By then, there was a whiff of illicit scandal about her.
During her four-year marriage to Richard Gere from 1991 to ’95, there were rumors they were both bisexual. Even that (seemingly unfounded) gossip has long since disappeared since she married former model Rande Gerber, a pal of George Clooney, in 1998.
Crawford’s life has come full circle and, after her years with Gere, seems as clean-cut and homely as the jobs she had growing up.
She turns 50 in February and in the 15 years since she left the catwalk, the rise of free porn has also shaped the modeling industry. Models now seem to need an extra ‘edge’ to give them some bonus allure – whether it’s shoots showing them as junkies, lesbians, or into S&M.
Even in her topless portraits, Crawford always looked as if she’d be happier heading off to a bar to get the first round in before heading home to watch Friends and maybe a filthy foot rub if you were lucky. She was a classic studio-run Hollywood-style beauty from a lineage of women such as Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, and Charlie’s Angels – glamorous, not XXX.
And she became one of those recognizable faces someone could draw a vague sketch of flowing blonde hair and a mole above her lip and they would know who was on the page.
Yet, as Crawford’s new book Becoming demonstrates, she defined the polish of Nineties glamour. But then again: Crawford has a mischievous look as she hugs her breasts in the iconic Playboy shot that plays a central part in the new coffee-table tome.
Becoming compiles Crawford’s most famous pictures, the ones which helped her sell millions of calendars and become the highest-paid model on the planet by 1995. She’s now worth more than $88 million.
The book also includes life lessons the former model hopes to inspire her 14-year-old daughter Kaia, herself an aspiring model. “I know people will buy the book for the pictures,” Crawford said. “But hopefully they’ll read the essays too.”
If you want to buy it for the articles, go ahead. But here are some of Becoming’s finest pictures to tide you over.
Getting out her Ritts
Crawford said of working with photographer Herb Ritts who took this portrait, “You knew you were going to look gorgeous. Herb photographed you the way you wanted the world to see you.”
Ritts undoubtedly captured Crawford at her best in what has become her most famous photo. Showing her all-American glam at its peak, the portrait was taken for Playboy in 1988, when Crawford was 22. By then, Crawford had already been modeling for five years. She was runner-up at leading modeling agency Elite’s amateur Look Of The Year contest, after which they snapped her up.
But Crawford’s early life wasn’t entirely trouble-free. When she was eight her two-year-old brother Jeff died from leukemia. She said, “That fuelled me. I learned at a young age not to take life for granted.”
Party-animal photographer Sante D’Orazio took Crawford to bed for this 1990 masterpiece. She began dating Richard Gere around this time, marrying him in 1991.
Crawford’s parents divorced when she was six and her own marriage to Gere only lasted until 1995. “We all want to believe in the movie version of love,” Crawford has said about the relationship. “What happened with Richard was crushing. It made me look at relationships more realistically.”
Rumors of Crawford’s bisexuality began after she snogged fellow supermodel Christy Turlington outside New York club Roxy in 1991. It led to her and Gere taking out a $27,000 full-page ad in The Times denying rumors of affairs. Tabloid gossip linked Gere with Uma Thurman and Crawford with soap actor John Enos. The advert stated, ‘We are heterosexual and monogamous and take our commitment to each other seriously.’
Celebrity photographer Helmut Newton took this stunning photo for Vogue in 1991. Even though Crawford was then at the height of her career, she claimed she lacked confidence. Crawford said, “When I was 25, I thought I’d last another five years at most.”
Although Crawford diversified into successful cosmetic and furniture ranges her attempts to make it into acting didn’t come off.
Having starred in videos for George Michael and Bon Jovi, Crawford’s film debut was as an attorney in 1995 cop drama Fair Game with William Baldwin. It cost $44.7 million to make but made just $9.5 million. The New York Times bitched, ‘As an attorney, Crawford makes a pretty jogger’.
That was pretty much it for Crawford’s big-screen ambitions. But she returned to acting in the video for Taylor Swift’s hit Bad Blood. She played a headmistress to a ‘school’ of a new generation of supermodels including Cara Delevingne and Karlie Kloss.
Another scorching Herb Ritts photo, this time from 1993. Ritts also photographed Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Tom Cruise before he died from Aids in 2002 aged 50.
While Ritts and Crawford had a successful relationship, she fell out with fellow celebrity photographer Bruce Weber. He said of a photoshoot for Revlon in the late 1990s, “Cindy was the only model I ever sent away.” He accused her of being rude to extras on the shoot and demanding Weber ignore them and focus solely on her when she announced, “I’m ready now.” Weber said Crawford was in tears as she left on his orders.
The ‘MILF next door’ days
Crawford still looks sensational now. Any on-set diva behavior seems years behind her and she appears to be happy running the business of being brand Cindy since she married Rande Gerber. As well as daughter Kaia, the couple has a 16-year-old son Presley.
The former supermodel admitted she doubted she and Gerber would last when they met, saying, “I loved Rande, but I kept wondering when the drama would start. But my relationship therapist helped me appreciate the solidity and foundations I felt with Rande. Now he’s my soulmate.”
She was also on this cover of Loaded
Crawford graced the cover of Loaded in March 1997 in an issue Bob Mortimer reckoned was worth “at least an hour’s read”. Plus there was a chat with indie band Spacehog.
Cindy Crawford’s book Becoming is available at Amazon.
International supermodel Cindy Crawford chronicles her life and career, sharing stories and lessons learned, and featuring her most memorable images in this New York Times bestseller. Cindy Crawford was the cornerstone of the golden age of the supermodel in the 1990s. She blazed a trail during that decade, seamlessly moving between the runway to unconventional outlets, such as cutting-edge MTV, Super Bowl commercials, and even Playboy magazine.
On the eve of her fiftieth birthday, Crawford looks back, photo shoot by photo shoot, on a remarkable career and various life lessons she absorbed. She discusses her earliest modeling years and learning how to become less self-conscious in front of a camera; trusting her own instincts about creating positive messages about a healthy and strong body image that she knew would reach women of all ages; her feelings about becoming a wife and a mother; and her thoughts about turning fifty and what she would tell her younger self if she had the chance. The photographs span her entire career, beginning from the mid 1980s, and feature unpublished images from Crawford’s personal archive in addition to images by every top name in fashion photography, including Annie Leibovitz, Arthur Elgort, Helmut Newton, Herb Ritts, Irving Penn, Patrick Demarchelier, and Richard Avedon, among others.
A beautifully illustrated series of stories, Becoming is a smart and engaging book that sheds light into the life and work of an extraordinary woman.