Profiles of Forbes’ Top-Earning Supermodels

Wednesday, January 9, 2008 at 1:46am by Site Administrator

Don’t hate them because they’re beautiful. Hate them because they’re rich and beautiful. Just when we’re starting to feel pretty good about ourselves, Forbes likes to burst our bubbles each year with its annual lists of the world’s wealthiest individuals, most powerful celebrities and of course, the highest paid supermodels. This list is especially unfair, yet somehow tantalizing, because for once, our everyday sloppy selves are allowed to peek into the glammed-up worlds of the most beautiful creatures on the planet. Do they deserve the millions they’re worth? Maybe not, but that doesn’t stop us from wanting to know as much as much possible about the photo shoots, television ventures, campaigns, and of course runway shows, that keep these women at the top.

  1. Gisele Bundchen: $33 million: Just when exactly did Gisele Bundchen sneak into the fashion industry and start to dominate American pop culture? Was it in 1999 when Vogue heralded her as bringing sexy back by naming her entrance into the fashion world as "The Return of the Sexy Model?" Or was it when she began dating Leonardo DiCaprio and became one of the most recognizable Victoria’s Secret Angels? None of it matters anymore, as Gisele has ditched Leo, moved on from Victoria’s Secret after a disagreement over salary, and now tops Forbes’ 2007 list after making a whopping $33 million due to campaigns including Dolce and Gabbana and Roberto Cavalli, plus an appearance in last year’s The Devil Wears Prada.
  2. Kate Moss: $9 million: International style icon Kate Moss has been a model for nearly two decades, a career that has survived everything from pregnancy and childbirth to a much-publicized cocaine scandal. Those who thumb their noses at the too-skinny trend have Kate to thank, who ushered in heroin-chic with her Calvin Klein ads in the 1990s. No longer an androgynous-looking teenager, Kate is still a modeling force to be reckoned with, as she makes more money today from campaigns and design stints than she did before that nasty coke habit got her fired from companies like H&M and Burberry.
  3. Heidi Klum: $8 million: Forget supermodel, Heidi Klum is a modern-day superwoman. As a mother of three, Victoria’s Secret powerhouse, television producer and jewelry designer, this German-born glamazon is a fashion magnate. Despite having a difficult time breaking into the industry (which at the time was obsessed with waifs a la Kate Moss), the curvy Klum is now the producer and host of Project Runway and continues to make millions in her campaigns and runway shows for brands like Victoria’s Secret and Jordache.
  4. Adriana Lima: $6 million: Take one look at this Brazilian beauty, and you’ll understand why she’s more than just your everyday model. Her seductive eyes, gorgeous hair and sexy pout have won her coveted spots with Victoria’s Secret and Maybelline, making her one of Forbes’ highest paid supermodels. She was also named "The World’s Most Voluptuous Virgin" by GQ after pledging, "sex is for after marriage…[Men] have to respect that this is my choice."
  5. Alessandra Ambrosio: $6 million: The Brazilian trend in the modeling world isn’t fading anytime soon, thanks in part to Victoria’s Secret Angel Alessandra Ambrosio. Not just another sexy Angel, Ambrosio has racked up contracts with The Limited, Armani Exchange, and Next U.K., and is also the National Ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
  6. Carolyn Murphy: $5 million: Carolyn Murphy’s quiet but sexy elegance has lent itself to Tiffany & Co., Estee Lauder, Versace and other prestigious fashion and beauty clients, earning her a top spot in the industry. Winner of the 1998 VH1/Vogue Model of the Year award, Murphy has worked almost continuously since the age of 16. After high school, though, she famously bleached her hair so blonde that it began to fall out. According to an interview with Murphy on BellaSugar, "many photographers took notice of her brave, boyishly short haircut and she began getting work in high profile magazines" like Harper’s Bazaar. The rest is history.
  7. Natalia Vodianova: $4.5 million: She’s only 25, but the Russian beauty Natalia Vodianova is already a modeling veteran. Forbes.com reports that this fashion chameleon "has been a Calvin Klein muse for longer than any other model, including Kate Moss." But just ten years ago, Vodianova was on the streets of her Russian town selling fruit to help support her family. Once she started modeling, however, Vodianova won campaigns with Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs and of course, Calvin Klein. She is also married to the Honorable Justin Portman and has two children.
  8. Karolina Kurkova: $3.5 million: Karolina’s bombshell beauty has made her a favorite with both high fashion magazines and the Victoria’s Secret camp. According to Forbes.com, Kurkova was one of the youngest models to ever appear on the cover of American Vogue: she was just 16 when she landed the spot in 2001. In addition to modeling and supporting several youth-oriented nonprofits, Kurkova also has a part in the upcoming movie My Sexiest Year.
  9. Daria Werbowy: $3.5 million: Daria Werbowy’s name might not be recognizable outside the fashion industry, but her enchanting looks have graced the covers of Vogue Italia and other top magazines. In 2003, the hardworking Canadian "appeared in more shows…than any model had ever walked in a single season," according to Supermodels.nl. Her current campaigns include Versace, Chanel, Lancome and many others.
  10. Gemma Ward: $3 million: Don’t let Gemma’s babydoll face fool you. At only 20 years old, this Australian supermodel is a pro at winning over clients, marching down the runway and causing fashion heavyweights and the general public to fall in love with her. Designer Karl Lagerfeld calls her “a great model,” claiming “she has the look of the moment, the attitude of the moment. She is really the model of the moment," as reported by AskMen.com, and many industry insiders credit her with issuing in the new look and standard for ethereal beauty. Open any fashion magazine, and you’ll see Gemma in ads for Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Swarovski and more, not to mention shots of her commanding the runways at Celine, Prada and Jean Paul Gaultier.
  11. Liya Kebede: $2.5 million: Liya Kebede makes fashion history as the only black model on this year’s list and as the first black model ever for beauty giant Estee Lauder. In addition to working with clients like Anne Taylor, Gucci and H&M, the Ethiopian-born Kebede is a powerful activist and Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.
  12. Hilary Rhoda: $2 million: For many in the modeling and fashion industries, Hilary Rhoda symbolizes a return to the American ideal: classic, elegant sexiness. Often compared to Brooke Shields, Rhoda, 20, just landed her big money-making contract with Estee Lauder, as well as staying busy shooting campaigns for Donna Karan, Zara, Gucci and others. Supermodels.nl reports that "in the Fall of 2006, Models.com announced that Hilary was one of the most sought after Top Ten New Faces," after dominating ads for Balenciaga and appearing in editorial shoots for magazines like American and French Vogue, W and Harper’s Bazaar.
  13. Shalom Harlow: $2 million: Shalom Harlow’s statuesque figure and feline looks have kept her at the top of the fashion industry for nearly 15 years. Besides her modeling work, Harlow has appeared in movies like Melinda and Melinda, Vanilla Sky, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and In and Out. Forbes.com believes that "she is making a comeback this year with new contracts with Chanel and Tiffany & Co.," but we’re not sure if she ever really left.
  14. Doutzen Kroes: $1.5 million: If Brigitte Bardot came back as a Dutch-born supermodel stomping down the runway at Michael Kors or Yves Saint Laurent, we bet she’d do it in the form of Doutzen Kroes. Doutzen’s pouty lips and curvaceous figure give her an edge over some of the wan, malnourished-looking models in the pack, and top designers have noticed. In 2005, Style.com named her its Model of the Year, and this year alone, Doutzen "bagged contracts with Calvin Klein’s Eternity fragrance and L’Oreal."
  15. Jessica Stam: $1.5 million: Simply known as Stam, this Canadian farm girl-turned-supermodel has a look that combines ferocity and provocative allure with an innocent sweetness. One of fashion’s new cool girls, Stam dated a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, was discovered by legendary photographer Steven Meisel, and is known for having an edgy-luxe personal style that inspires fashionistas everywhere. Seen on the runway and in shoots for Carolina Herrera, Marc Jacobs, Dior and Bulgari, we predict that Stam will shoot up to a higher spot on next year’s list.

If you could be rich or beautiful, which would you be? How about both? For these 15 ladies who book contracts with top designers, hosting gigs with successful TV shows and appearances in popular films, making millions just comes with the gorgeous territory.


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