The fashion industry icon opens up about how a traumatizing experience on set changed how she approached her career in the new documentary 'The Super Models'
Over the last 40-plus years, Cindy Crawford's beauty mark, strong brows and shoulder-length wavy locks have become her signature look. However, she reveals in Apple TV+'s new The Super Models documentary that her iconic hairstyle is actually a trauma response to a negative experience she faced early on in her career.
In the first episode of the documentary series, Crawford recounts her slow rise to fame after being discovered in rural Illinois and catching her first big break booking a shoot in Rome with famed fashion photographer Patrick Demarchelier. However, the trip turned out to be more of a nightmare than a fantasy for the young model.
The photographer's one stipulation in booking Crawford was that she cut her hair very short, but both she and her agency decided it wasn't worth it and told Demarchelier she wouldn't do it. He agreed to take her on the shoot anyway. "I was so excited, it was just a great opportunity," she says.
But when they got there, Crawford continues, "The very first night, they send the hairdresser to my room to give me a 'trim.' They comb my hair, put it in a ponytail, and chop my ponytail off without asking. I was in shock and I just sat there in a hotel in Rome crying. And people wonder why I've never really cut my hair since then — that's why. I was so traumatized."
She adds that, at that time in her career, "I really felt I was not seen as a person who had a voice in her own destiny. It wasn't that I didn't like my hair short, it was that I hadn't voted myself in to having short hair." She recalled thinking that, "If this is what it means to be a model, I'm just not ready for this."
As Pulitzer Prize winning author Robin Givhan puts it in the documentary, "There's so much mythology that surrounds models and the job of that mythology is to kind of hide their humanity. When you look at the history of the model, the model's role was to basically be a living hanger. They were referred to as mannequins. Models are typically silent and their job is to make everything look effortless."
She concludes, "I think the fashion industry has created an illusion of glamour and sex because you're not supposed to know that perhaps that model who is supposed to represent this idealized woman is only 17 years old."
But while Crawford was traumatized by her short cut, for Linda Evangelista, a spontaneous decision to crop her hair wound up taking her career to all new heights.
The model explained that after living in Paris for three years, she felt like she was finally making headway and was working with the industry's top photographers, but it still remained her ultimate dream to land any international cover of Vogue. While on a trip with Peter Lindbergh, the photographer urged her to cut off her hair in order to go further in her career.
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So Evangelista asked her mother what she thought she should do and she told her, "But why? You'll be the only girl with short hair." And the model thought, "Well, that's not a bad thing." So she did it,
The response, however, wasn't initially positive.
"After that, I went to Milano to do the fashion shows where I was booked for 20 shows," Evangelista explains, "As I was doing my fittings, and as they were seeing me, they all started cancelling. I only did four shows. And the next day, instead of doing the shows, Franca Sozzani [the late editor-in-chief of Italian Vogue] put me on the Concorde to Steven [Meisel] who photographed me and like two weeks later, I'm on the cover of Italian Vogue. And then I was doing all the Vogues. This is the moment I thought I made it after three years. I think that's where I really gained confidence and it just kept going from there."
The Super Models four-part documentary series, spotlighting the extraordinary careers of Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington, debuts Sept. 20th exclusively on Apple TV+.
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