Victoria’s Secret models who are unrecognizable today
When the first Victoria’s Secret store opened, its founder, Roy Raymond, had been in search of a place where he — and other men — would be comfortable buying lingerie for their wives, as opposed to being made to “feel like a deviant just for being there,” according to Slate. The company’s first brick and mortar opened in 1977 in Palo Alto, Calif., and, a few years after a $1 million buyout from The Limited’s Leslie Wexner, Victoria’s Secret had boomed into a multi-billion dollar industry leader.
In 1995, we got our first-ever Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. As the years have passed, it evolved into a huge live televised event, featuring elaborate winged costumes, huge musical talent like The Weeknd and Lady Gaga, and the “Fantasy Bra,” quite possibly the most expensive jeweled piece of lingerie ever created.
The show has also acted as a career high for countless supermodels. But wearing wings isn’t a forever thing. So where do those models go when they’ve reached the end of the runway? You won’t believe what these former Victoria’s Secret models look like today.
Helena Christensen still has it
Helena Christensen began her career as a Victoria’s Secret model in 1997, but her days as an angel were fairly short-lived. According to Insider, she was only with the company for two years. That doesn’t mean her only success existed on the catwalk — it’s quite the opposite, in fact. According to a 2018 interview with MEAWW, Christensen has graced the cover of over 600 magazines throughout her 30-year career. She’s also the most memorable part of Chris Isaak’s music video for his 1989 single “Wicked Game.”
These days, Christensen has managed to create a hugely successful career for herself outside of modeling. After the runway, Christensen turned to photography. By 1999, she was working as the creative director for Nylon magazine. Not long after, she and artist/designer Camilla Stærk founded New York design studio Stærk&Christensen. She told MEAWW, “I had the best teachers in the world as part of my career, it was like having the most wonderful photography education anyone could have.”
Christensen is still incredibly comfortable in front of the camera, though. In 2018, she posted a photo of herself in the same Thierry Mugler metal outfit she wore in 1991.
Marisa Miller is healthy, happy, and down-to-earth
In 2009, Marisa Miller donned one of the “most memorable Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show looks of all time,” according to E! News. By 2013, she had made her feature film debut in R.I.P.D. While not the most well-received film ever, it did give the former FHM “Sexiest Woman in the World” a chance to stretch her wings (so to speak), both with acting and stunt work. The self-described “tomboy” told Interview Magazine that year that the physical aspect of filming R.I.P.D. was her favorite part because it came naturally.
But acting isn’t the only industry Miller has dabbled in post-runway. Forbes reported on her business endeavors in 2010, which included an endorsement deal with Harley Davidson and a couple of collaborations, one a paddle board line for Surftech and the other a sneaker line for Vans.
As she’s gotten older and started a family, Miller has made it a point to be honest about herself and her body, particularly on social media. She told Interview Magazine, “There are more important things in life than a six-pack, I realized. It was just so much more important to take care of my baby and take care of myself in a healthy way.”
Molly Sims: from catwalk to the big screen
Molly Sims may have only walked in a single Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show — in 2001 — but the former model has transformed a career on one stage to another… a soundstage. In 2003, she landed a starring role in Las Vegas as Delinda Deline, the entertainment/food and beverage manager for a casino. Afterwards, she appeared in several comedic films, including 2006’s The Benchwarmers and 2008’s Yes Man.
Sims hasn’t relegated herself to just work on the big and small screens, either. She’s created an affordable and chic jewelry line for HSN, and has collaborated on a bag collection for Rachel Miriam. She’s also an author, having penned two books by 2019: 2015’s The Everyday Supermodel and 2017’s Everyday Chic.
Sims has made it a point to be honest about the pressures of aging. In 2015, she spoke with Elle about being a spokesperson for CoolSculpting, a non-invasive fat-freezing procedure. She said, “So many people don’t admit everything they’ve done. They’ve had face lifts and Botox and Juvederm and Restylane and lasers and liposuction and all these things. Listen, for me it was an easy thing to do.”
Veronica Webb is aging gracefully
Appearing on the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show runway in the ’90s, Veronica Webb enjoyed a career with the retailer for two years, but her impact on the fashion industry has been everlasting. Vogue described her as “one of the original ’90s supermodels,” who’s gone on to do work as a spokeswoman, columnist, and entrepreneur.
In 2017, Webb launched her own website, WebbOnTheFly.com, where she shares tips and personal stories on all things beauty, fashion, and lifestyle. She told Vogue that her motivation for creating the site stemmed from wanting to show others that age has nothing to do with confidence: “To share everything I’ve learned in three decades as a model and how that translates beautifully into everyday life as a wife and a mother.”
And although Webb has done some incredible things post-VS, including having run in three New York City Marathons, she’ll be the first to say that her greatest accomplishment has been as a wife and mother.
Laetitia Casta's refusal to be moulded
Laetitia Casta has never been one for following the crowd. Having been “discovered” on a beach in Corsica when she was 15, Casta only took four years to make it to the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show runway. According to the Daily Mail, she went on to appear on over 100 magazine covers, easily transitioned to a career in French film after her first child, and has been the model for the country’s national emblem, Marianne. And she’s incredibly outspoken — about life, motherhood, and her career.
She refuses to have her children (she has three) define who she is, saying, “It’s far more important and interesting for women to talk about their work, their thoughts, their creativity and their individual identity.” At the same time, Casta has a certain understanding of the difficulty involved with raising women in a society dominated by men. She told the Daily Mail that you have to be “tougher” with girls, in order for them to be strong and successful.
Karen Mulder's struggle with mental health issues
Karen Mulder has widely been recognized as one of the first fashion supermodels, who walked the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show runway between 1996 and 2000. But she had struggled with depression and issues regarding her own self image for years. According to the Evening Standard, Mulder told an interviewer fairly early on in her career, “It’s only been in the last few years that people said I was pretty,” adding, “I never felt like I was a pretty girl.”
By the early 2000s, her mental health seemed to be on a steady decline. In 2001, Mulder appeared on a French talk show and accused several police officers, agency employees, and politicians, including Prince Albert of Monaco, of having raped her. After a three-month stint in a psychiatric hospital, she issued a formal apology to Prince Albert. A year later, Mulder nearly overdosed.
In 2009, The Telegraph reported that Mulder had threatened to attack a former plastic surgeon over a previous procedure she wanted to have reversed. Since the incident, Mulder has managed to remain out of the limelight.
Petra Nemcova's journey to humanitarianism
In the early 2000s, Petra Nemcova had a hugely successful career that included landing the cover of Sports Illustrated and modeling for Victoria’s Secret. Everything changed in 2004, however, when the model and her fiancé, photographer Simon Atlee, were caught in the Boxing Day tsunami in Thailand. Atlee lost his life in the disaster, but Nemcova survived, having hung onto a palm tree for eight hours.
In a 2018 interview with Buro 24/7, Nemcova described how she came out of the tragedy with a new perspective. “The most amazing gift we can give to anyone is the power of intention and the power of focusing on positivity,” she said. “When I was in the hospital, I didn’t know whether I was going to walk. I said, ‘If I cannot walk, I still have my arms, I have my eyes, I can see, I can hear, there are so many things to be grateful for.'”
These days, Nemcova is focused on her own non-profit organization, the Happy Hearts Fund, whose goal is to help support communities that have faced disaster. Since 2006, it’s rebuilt over 162 schools in ten countries, including the U.S., Thailand, and the Philippines.
Bridget Hall continues to shine in front of the camera
In 2013, the Daily Mail revisited Bridget Hall’s illustrious modeling career and described her ’90s heyday by saying, “By 18, she was listed in Forbes as one of the top ten moneymaking supermodels, along with Cindy Crawford and Christy Turlington.” She appeared in the 1998 Victoria’s Secret catalogue and walked the runway between the years 1998 and 2002. Hall famously dated Leonardo DiCaprio back in 1994, a pairing that Elle said featured the actor’s first (of many) model girlfriends.
Although no longer considered to be the moneymaker she once was, Hall’s modeling career has seen a resurgence. In 2013, Hall became the face of two separate ad campaigns: one for Rag & Bone’s DIY campaign and the other for Prabal Gurung’s fall collection. The designer told The New York Times that he wanted a model to represent his customer, saying, “We’ve grown up with this fantasy about supermodels,” adding, “I felt personally it was the right moment to celebrate women of that age.”
Josie Maran said no to Botox
Josie Maran started her modeling career at 12, and it wasn’t long before she was modeling for Victoria’s Secret and Sports Illustrated. By 18, she had landed a ten-year contract with Maybelline. She went on to try her hand at acting, but, according to an interview with Into the Gloss, she just wasn’t about it.
“My dream was to change the world, and Maybelline had invested millions of dollars in my name — it was high leverage,” she said. She wanted makeup that was healthy, but she came up against makeup artist after makeup artist who told her it couldn’t be done. In 2007, Maran started her own cosmetics line that focused on high-end and healthy products, celebrating the process of aging. “It’s about embracing who you are and getting better with age,” she told Into the Gloss. She also learned about argan oil, which has become a signature ingredient of her Josie Maran Cosmetics line.
For Maran, getting older is about embracing the journey, as well as the lines it leaves. “I’m not going to get Botox — I’m going to gut this one out,” she said. “I’m pretty hardcore, so I’m going to see what life is like without all that stuff.”
Stephanie Seymour experienced ups and downs in the spotlight
As one of the most iconic Victoria’s Secret models, Stephanie Seymour enjoyed all the perks of life as a supermodel during the early ’90s. In 2014, Harper’s Bazaar revisited her early days, which included a starring role in Guns N’ Roses’ “November Rain” music video, as well as a brief dating stint with the band’s frontman. “The thrill of the whole rock ‘n’ roll thing wore off,” Seymour said of that time in her life. “I saw the worst of that world and it soured me.”
After retirement, she enjoyed a seemingly picture-perfect family life with billionaire husband Peter Brant and their kids, including sons Peter Jr. and Harry who’ve followed in their famous mom’s modeling footsteps. Her life looked to be idyllic until a 2016 DUI charge led to speculation that things weren’t as glamorous as Seymour would have hoped for them to appear. Page Six also reported on the model’s alleged history of drug and alcohol abuse, as well as the couple’s alleged infidelity throughout the course of their marriage.
Everyone deserves a comeback story, though, and for Seymour that happened in 2019 when she was chosen to close the Versace runway.
Claudia Schiffer is still an industry force
Even in 2019, People described Claudia Schiffer as the biggest model of the ’90s. She walked in only one Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show runway, in 1997, but has modeled for countless others, including Chanel (she once told People, “Karl [Lagerfeld] was my magic dust”).
Three decades after she began her modeling career, Schiffer is still a force in the industry. In 2017, she spoke with Vogue about the release of her book, Claudia Schiffer, as well as her thoughts on the current state of the modeling world. She described today’s “faster pace,” saying, “I’ve read some interviews where models are described as ‘supermodel of the moment.’ You have to work so much harder, I think, in comparison.”
Two years later, she became the face of fashion line Ba&sh, of which she told People she’s admired for years. She’s also one for trying new things, at least as far as fashion goes, which probably has a lot to do with her ability to remain relevant.
Karen Elson is fighting demons through music
Karen Elson appeared in only the 2001 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, a turn that seemed a little out of character for the model/musician, who described herself to Vogue UK in 2019 as “that off-kilter beauty that nobody would think was beautiful but then you see it in that magazine and it’s something.” Her atypical looks have allowed her to morph into so many people, she said, but modeling isn’t the thing that’s fed her soul over the years.
In 2010, Elson released her debut album, The Ghost Who Walks. It was a critical success, and, by 2017, she released the EP Double Roses, which featured collaborative work by Laura Marling, Father John Misty, and Pat Carney, the drummer for the Black Keys. It was heavy and emotional, something Elson told Elle was easily — and incorrectly — attributed to her 2013 divorce from Jack White.
She’s also been one of many voices heard in the #MeToo movement. According to People, Elson posted her own traumatic experience dealing with Ryan Adams, who, at the beginning of 2019, was at the center of a harassment scandal, led in large part by his ex-wife, Mandy Moore.
Olga Kurylenko reinvented her life
In an interview with Wylde, former Victoria’s Secret model Olga Kurylenko said she remained in the industry for ten years, just long enough for her to star in her first feature film, The Ring Finger, and to achieve the acting success that would allow her to quit the modeling world.
By 2008, she was a bonafide Bond Girl, having appeared in Quantum of Solace. From there, the actress landed lead roles in two separate, decidedly non-Bond films, Oblivion and To the Wonder. She also produced 2011’s Land of Oblivion, a Chernobyl disaster film that she described to Fade In Online in 2013 as “amazing, a work of real poetry and beauty.”
Kurylenko later used her own experience in poverty as fuel for her contributions to Hope and Homes, a non-profit that works with moving children out of orphanages and into loving homes, regardless of their level of wealth.
Rebecca Romijn traded modeling in for film and family
Rebecca Romijn also walked the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show during her modeling career. She began the transition to acting in the late ’90s, but her role in 2000’s X-Men catapulted her into film fame. In a 2002 interview with IGN, Romijn said she prefers to pass on typical pretty face roles. “I mean, playing somebody who’s perfect holds no allure for me, whatsoever,” she said. “It’s just boring. I’d rather play somebody who’s a little broken.”
After a failed marriage to everyone’s favorite Uncle Jesse, John Stamos, Romijn found true love with Jerry O’Connell in the 2000s… but it took some serious “flexing” on his part. According to People, a shirtless O’Connell impressed Romijn at a Maxim Hot 100 party in Las Vegas by showing off his bod. Two kids later, Romijn and O’Connell are still madly in love. Or they’re keeping it together for the kids, a thing they joked about with Closer Weekly in 2019, when O’Connell said having twins keeps them from divorcing. “Because then one of you will be stuck with them,” Rebecca said. “So you decide to stay together so one of you doesn’t end up with them!”
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