The term supermodel (also spelled super-model, super model) refers to a highly-paid fashion model who usually has a worldwide reputation and often a background in haute couture and commercial modeling. The term became prominent in the popular culture of the 1980s. Supermodels usually work for top fashion designers and famous clothing brands. They have multi-million dollar contracts, endorsements and campaigns. They have branded themselves as household names and worldwide recognition is associated with their modeling careers. They have been on the covers of prestigious magazines such as French, British and Italian Vogue. Claudia Schiffer stated, “In order to become a supermodel one must be on all the covers all over the world at the same time so that people can recognise the girls.
Criticism of the supermodel as an industry has been frequent inside and outside the fashion press, from complaints that women desiring this status become unhealthily thin to charges of racism, where the “supermodel” generally has to conform to a Northern European standard of beauty. According to fashion writer Guy Trebay of The New York Times, in 2007, the “android” look is popular, a vacant stare and thin body serving, according to some fashion industry conventions, to set off the couture. This was not always the case. In the 1970s, black, heavier and “ethnic” models dominated the runways but social changes since that time have made the power players in the fashion industry shun suggestions of “otherness”.