By Monica Vallejos
As an “ordinary” teenager she entranced photographers by being so photogenic, and then she entranced the entire world with her beauty.
With those attributes Cindy Crawford, tall at 170cm, with brown eyes and hair, forged a career that allowed her to become the highest-paid model on the planet. She later passed the honour on to other supermodels, but has continued to be an advertising icon.
Crawford holds the record of having been featured on the covers of over 1,000 magazines.
She walked down the runways for all the major designers in the late 1980s.
Her smile, different because of the beauty mark just above her lip, and her shapely form helped to sell countless products ranging from cosmetics to watches and including soft drinks and of course clothes.
Her likeness was plastered all over cities on posters, billboards. The press turned Crawford into a household name even in the most remote corners of the world. Crawford was a part of the “supermodel” story in the mass media 25 years ago.
She became an international celebrity whose fame surpassed by far the relatively muted role that models usually have away. Her main activity was not to show off garments. It was to show off everything.
People wanted to know every detail of the lives of the supermodels, what they did privately and whom they dated. It was not by chance that Crawford married film star Richard Gere, that Naomi Campbell had love affairs with pop stars and boxers and that Claudia Schiffer was magician David Copperfield’s eternal girlfriend.
Cynthia Ann “Cindy” Crawford was born in Illinois in 1966 and her career began at 17 when she took part in the “Look of the Year” contest. Both that beauty contest and the organiser, the Elite agency, played key roles in the careers of top models in the 1980s.
After a short stint at Northwestern University studying chemical engineering Crawford quit school and moved to New York to continue a modelling career. Crawford’s trademark mole immediately began to cause problems for her.
It was seen initially as a defect and on her first cover shoot the agency had her cover it up with makeup.
The only other time when Crawford covered her mole was years later when, fabulously famous, she worked on a television commercial for chocolate milk and, in an illusion, licked the mole off with her tongue.
The mole added another dimension to her beauty as happened with Marilyn Monroe.
Crawford performed as a television presenter starting in 1989 with House of Style on MTV. Crawford hosted the show for six years and became a model with a voice. The show gave the public a more tangible understanding of Crawford not just based on her spectacular looks.
MTV announced in October 2012 that House of Style is set to return with current models Karlie Kloss and Joan Smalls as hosts.
Forbes magazine listed Crawford in 1995 as the world’s best-paid model earning an annual income of $6.9mn. Her long-term contracts with Omega watches, Revlon and Pepsi, some spanning over a decade, guaranteed constant income and the continuity of her public image.
Crawford also produced exercise videos and authored a makeup book: Cindy Crawford’s Basic Face that shared her beauty secrets.
Perhaps the most sensual appearance Crawford ever made was on a Pepsi commercial in 1992 to launch a new can design. Wearing denim shorts and a sleeveless white t-shirt Crawford drove up to a petrol station in the old Wild West and took a Pepsi from a fridge.
The commercial aired during the Super Bowl, watched and admired by 80mn people.
Crawford went even further, posing nude for Playboy and hosting a programme for ABC television in the US called Sex with Cindy that dealt with such topics as sexual attraction, monogamy and sex in the media.
“At the peak of her modelling career in the 1990s, Cindy was cover gold,” said Linda Wells, editor in chief of Allure, as quoted in Crawford’s official biography on the Internet.
“She managed to appeal equally, though differently, to women and men as a friendly, sexy, thoroughly American beauty,” Wells added.
New York designer Michael Kors is quoted as saying that “Cindy changed the perception of the ‘sexy American girl’ from classic blue-eyed blonde to a more sultry brunette with brains, charm, and professionalism to spare.”
Despite her success on the runways and in advertising, Crawford bombed on the silver screen.
Her acting debut in Fair Game together with William Baldwin earned her three Golden Raspberry Award nominations for worst new star, worst actress and worst film couple with Baldwin.
But she kept on trying appearing in movies such as Catwalk (1995), Unzipped (1995) and Beautopia (1998).
Endowed with considerable business acumen Crawford became her own boss after retiring from modelling and the end of the supermodel era in the late 1990s.
Her beauty product lines include facial creams called “Meaningful Beauty”; household articles in “Cindy Crawford Home” as well as furniture, bedclothes and bathroom furniture in “Cindy Crawford Style” with JCPenney.
Crawford still enters into strategic alliances to advertise products and co-design shoes and garments, for example as with German footwear firm Deichmann and the European C&A.
Her marriage to Gere from 1991-1995 was headline news as the gossip magazines speculated about why they failed to have children. In 1998 Crawford married former model and restoration expert Rande Gerber and they had two children, Presley in 1999 and Kaia in 2001.
Her pregnancies were also opportunities for Crawford to become a spokesperson for healthy causes.
She learned about motherhood, read up on natural births, yoga and meditation and then gave birth to her children in her own bed. In 1999 at age 33 and very pregnant, Crawford posed nude on the cover of W magazine for men.
Shortly afterward the press once again gave Crawford star status: “Cindy, from Supermodel to Supermom.” — DPA
Cindy Crawford ... a role model for supermodels