Claudia Schiffer walks the red carpet at Cannes Film Festival in 2006 ... ageless beauty.

By Almudena de Cabo


No-one has been able to outshine the top international fashion models so famous in the 1990s. And German beauty Claudia Schiffer continues to be, 14 years after she stepped down from the runway, an iconic figure from the golden age of modelling in which fashion divas earned huge amounts and the whole world watched them.
With her blond hair and graceful figure, at 1.82m tall, Claudia Schiffer became the best-paid model in the 1990s, earning roughly $10mn annually.
Versace, Valentino, Ralph Lauren, all the big names in fashion, wanted their designs to be shown off by the stunning model.
“It was an amazing experience and a very special time in the history of models,” Schiffer herself would say years later.
As frequently happens with models, Schiffer was discovered at a young age. She was 17 when Michel Levanton, with the Metropolitan Model agency, laid eyes on her at the Checkers discotheque in Dusseldorf where she had gone with friends. Her beauty and her height made him quickly invite her to a trial photo shoot in Paris.
Schiffer was able to convince her parents to let her go, packed her bags and left her three younger siblings and Rheinberg, her home town in western Germany, behind to become the undisputed catwalk queen.
She abandoned her dreams to study law as her father had, exchanged her ballet and piano classes and tennis matches with friends for instead learning how to walk down a runway and attend endless hairdressing and make-up sessions.
Initially Schiffer became known as the “German Brigitte Bardot” and her first major job was with Guess jeans, turning her into one of the most sought after models.
“In my early years as a model I used to think about how I was becoming a sexual fantasy for men. I found it amazing to see the effect the photos had on men. Nowadays I think my job is, quite simply, to look sexy,” Schiffer was quoted as saying.
Aware of her power, she was able to make many men fall in love with her. But the most influential man in her career was Karl Lagerfeld who catapulted Schiffer in 1988 to the summit of the fashion Olympus when he chose her as his muse and model for Chanel.
Schiffer remained loyal to her mentor until she withdrew from modelling in 1998, at age 28.
“She needs no touch-ups of any kind. She is far better than any other,” Lagerfeld said about Schiffer when he worked with her. In an interview in 2008 Lagerfeld could still say confidently that “Claudia Schiffer is better than ever” although the kind of fashion scene she had dominated had become “demode.”
In contrast to other supermodels such as Naomi Campbell, Schiffer never became grist for the gossip magazines with scandals, whims or excesses.
She described herself as a “normal, simple woman, with nothing special.”
A bit of an understatement for a woman who in a decade graced the covers of 600 magazines all over the world, signed huge advertising contracts, flirted with acting and even shot her own gymnastics video.
Her private life also provided no great excitement for the media. The only hint of a scandal was her two-year relationship with US magician David Copperfield.
Some saw their engagement in March 1994 as a publicity stunt to make her better known in the US and for him to reach the European market.
Some years later in 2002, Schiffer met and wed British film producer Matthew Vaughn. They have three children: Caspar, Clementine and Cosima Violet.
Her life as a mother is demanding and Schiffer spends most of her time with the family in Notting Hill in London and also travels to her home town in Germany and a vacation home in Camp de Mar, in Mallorca.
Schiffer still misses Germany and thinks it would be wonderful to live there, although she has built up a circle of German friends in London. She has done goodwill work for Unicef and was a spokesperson for Make Poverty History, appearing in the Click advertisement.
At 42, Claudia Schiffer seems ageless.
Twenty-three years later she once again donned a pair of jeans for Guess in the 30-year anniversary publicity campaign.
“As long as I am able to I will continue to be linked to the world of fashion,” Schiffer told Elle magazine recently. She has developed her own brand business and launching a cashmere line in the autumn/winter 2011 season.
Currently Schiffer continues to make small appearances for L’Oreal, Bulgari and Citroen and a couple of years ago was featured in the Dom-Perignon campaign by Karl Lagerfeld.
Perhaps the best description of Claudia Schiffer comes in her own words, in a conversation she had with the media and experts on how fashion affects human culture.
Asked what the role of an icon is in fashion, Schiffer replied: “An icon is a constant beacon in the ever changing face of fashion.” — DPA

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