As we draw closer to the end of the decade, it's fun to start looking back and guessing who was relevant in the fashion world over the past ten years. It's a difficult task, as we are still living in the time we are trying to analyze; what may seem important culturally now may not be so in the future. Only time will tell which figures in fashion really helped define this first difficult decade of the twenty-first century.
That being said, I have compiled a list of ten fashion models who I think made an impact on the look and styles of the last ten years. They are a diverse group: some are bombshells, some are quirky, and some challenge our cultural standards of beauty. I hope you enjoy my list and please post any models you feel I have left out!
1. Natalia Vodianova
In my opinion, Natalia Vodianova is to the Naughties what Kate Moss was to the Nineties; she was the face of the decade. Her story reads like a fairytale: she was discovered at age 15 selling fruit in a market in Russia, travelled to Paris to model, met a British artistocrat and married him, shot to the top of the modelling world, and managed to have three babies all before the age of 27. Her feline good looks combined with her dramatic ability before the camera have made her a fashion superstar. She is best known as the face of Calvin Klein early in the decade, but has left her mark across the fashion world.
2. Gisele Bundchen
The sultry Brazilian rose to fame early in the decade as the antithesis of the Nineties waif. Gisele was curvier, more toned and tanned than most Nineties models, and in possession of a lion's mane of sexy hair. After conquering the high fashion runways of the world, Bundchen signed a multi-million dollar contract with Victoria's Secret and became an international sensation.
3. Karen Elson
British-born Karen Elson possesses a strange, haunting beauty. Her alabaster skin and flame red hair make her look like a figure out of a 1920s Parisian cabaret. She first gained recognition in the late Nineties as a gangly, quirky teenager who shaved her eyebrows off at the request of photographer Steven Miesel. Over the past ten years she has grown into her beauty, and continues to be a highly sought after model. A singer as well, Elson married White Stripes frontman Jack White and now lives in Nashville raising their two children.
4. Agyness Deyn
Agyness Deyn (aka Laura Holland) is relatively new to the fashion world, but is a superstar none the less. She has graced the pages of almost every international fashion magazine and runway and is instantly recognizeable for her platinum blonde hair and lithe frame. Deyn's quirky and fun personal style has garnered as much attention as her modelling work; she is a truly unique fashionista, and a unique beauty.
5. Anouck Lepere
Belgian model Anouck Lepere also began her career in the late nineties; her angular face and beautiful eyebrows made her a star early in the decade. She is a very natural beauty who often looks better without any makeup, but her work for fashion houses like Prada and Jeremy Scott have made her an important figure in the fashion world over the last ten years. Lepere is also a designer (she makes beautiful jewelry), and a sought after DJ.
6. Alek Wek
Sudanese born Alek Wek challenges our conceptions of what modern beauty is. In the fashion world, where most models today are white and of eastern-European descent, Wek stands out from the crowd. With her impossibly long limbs and her beautiful ebony skin, Wek redefines beauty, and is a truly unique character in the fashion world. A successful handbag designer, Alek Wek has also published memoirs on the hardships of growing up in Sudan, of being a young poor immigrant in London, and eventually becoming a fashion star.
7. Gemma Ward
Australian model Gemma Ward is instantly recognizeable for her doll-like features, gamine physique, and huge wide set blue eyes. She is a complex beauty; she can look innocent and childlike one moment, and a glamourous vixen the next. She has graced the cover of almost all major fashion magazines of the past decade, and has been a regular figure in Prada, Gucci, and Dolce and Gabbana ad campaigns. She is otherworldly; she looks like she descended from outerspace- more of a beautiful alien than an Aussie beach girl.
8. Lily Donaldson
This British beauty has catapulted to fame both for her exquisite good looks and her effortlessly cool demeanor. Donaldson is a regular figure in Burberry and Gucci ad campaigns, and is romantically linked to the son of Paris Vogue editor Carrine Roitfeld. Expect to see much more of Donaldson in the coming decade; she is at the top of her game right now, and models almost monthly for American, British, and Paris Vogue.
9. Sasha Pivovarova
Russian model Sasha is another star of the late Noughties. She is a chameleon, able to change her look at the drop of a hat for the camera. She is sophisticated, haughty, and elegant; she reminds one of models from the 1950s. Sasha is also an accomplished painter, and regularly shows her work in galleries onboth sides of the Atlantic. In 2009, Sasha also signed a very lucrative contract with Biotherm skincare products.
10. Irina Lazareanu
Of Rumanian descent, Irina Lazareanu recalls the fashion models of the 1960s with her heavy fringe and large doll like eyes. Lazareanu was trained as a ballet dancer, but gained international recognition as Kate Moss' choice to model her first collection for TopShop. Since this big debut, Lazareanu has been an in demand model both for runway and editorials. She has stepped back a bit recently to concentrate on her music career; her collaborators include both Pete Doherty and Sean Lennon.