A History of Modelling

Fashion Modelling is considered to have originated in the mid-nineteen century in Paris. The first ever fashion model is believed to be Marie Vernet Worth in 1892 who was married to fashion designer Charles Worth. The trend towards fashion modelling did not seem to increase immensely considering the success of the Worth’s. This was mainly due to the fact that models in the early 20th century were not seen as respected individuals and were not considered to have an acceptable profession. However, this view in society began to change in 1924 when Jean Patou selected only American white woman to model his clothes. This use of selectiveness allowed Patou’s clients to identify more with his designs but more importantly allowed the model profession to become more socially acceptable in those less politically correct times. The openings of the first modelling agencies in London and the US shortly after further emphasized the acceptance of modelling as an appropriate job within society. At this time model types were also evolving and it was not just the typical tall and slender models that were being employed.

Short And Stocky Models

Fashion designers such as Cristobal Balenciaga were using models that were deemed to be short and stocky. Also, during World War II ordinary looking and cheerful models were used because designers wanted their smiles to enlighten the mood that was present at the time. Therefore, with all these various types of models being used the modelling industry grew in stature once again.

Male Models

Models started to develop into super models where they received incredible amounts of money. For example, Lisa Fossagrives, who some people claim as the first ever supermodel, appeared in numerous high fashion magazines throughout the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Janice Dickinson in the 1960s who is more widely respected as the first ever supermodel became the highest paid model, earning $2,000 per day. She was on the cover of several European magazines including Vogue and Cosmopolitan that were also well established fashion magazines. During the 1960s and the 1970s more and more supermodels became apparent due to their growing popularity with society. Namely – Twiggy (London – born) and Cheryl Tiegs (Minnesota).

The prominence of the supermodel era continued to grow well into the 1980s and 1990s with models such as Claudia Schiffer, Elle Macpherson, Cindy Crawford, Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell. Men also got their turn, with the likes of Mark Wahlberg, Joel West and Markus Schenkenberg, who was hailed as the world´s first male supermodel, becoming household names. All of these models became the elite in the modelling industry and to some extent still are.


However, at the turn of the 21st century there seems to be a slight decline in the number of high fashion models mainly due to the increased number of pop singers, actresses and other celebrities. Thus, becoming far more popular with the general public and appearing in numerous fashion magazines and advertising campaigns.

In moving into the 21st century it has also become apparent that there are greater opportunities in the modelling industry. For example, there has been a notable increase in the number of hip-hop artists throughout the world. This trend has resulted in many artists requiring hip-hop models to appear in their videos and in their merchandise. It is also interesting that to be model in the 21st century you do not need to have the ultra slim and slender look that is personified. For instance, if you have an exceptional body part it is possible to only model that one distinguishing feature.

Thus, the future of modelling looks promising for all different types of individuals.