Becoming a runway model isn’t something that happens within a few months, as it actually requires strong work ethics along with an unconditional love for fashion. Compared to other kinds of models, such as lingerie or bikini models, runway models need stricter measurements and overall requirements, as they represent a certain brand or fashion house during the industry’s most pivotal weeks (meaning that a good deal of professionalism is required).
Formally, a runway model is a person who not only wraps herself in fancy clothes, but who also struts them out on the catwalk in front of an audience. Someone could also fairly state runway models are more performers than actual models, as certain runway shows are closer to performance art than fashion.
Not for nothing, the best runway models of all time still have a huge influence both inside and outside of the industry, resulting in runway modeling being held in great fascination and consideration by most outside observers. So, what does an aspiring model need to do to become a runway model? Let’s see the requirements after checking out the list of 76 best runway models of all time to overwhelm ourselves with a great dose of inspiration.
Best Runway Models of All Time: Contents
Whether you want to become a runway model and are looking for your role model for inspiration or not, these are the top 76 runway models that have made history in the fashion industry!
1. Naomi Campbell
Diva Naomi Campbell might (allegedly) be not one of the easiest models to work with, but is surely one of the most legendary runway models of all time. In the Nineties, she was declared the “reigning supermodel of them all” by Interview, and we couldn’t agree more!
2. Kate Moss
From one icon to another, Kate Moss is still considered as one of the best runway models of all time. Her fresh-faced beauty charmed us back in the Nineties, and her heroin-chic look still makes us dream of one of the industry’s most glorious times.
3. Tyra Banks
Mentioning Tyra Banks is mandatory when speaking about runway queens, such as Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss. Now ANTM’s host, Tyra Banks has never really stopped playing a huge role in the industry, and will surely be forever remembered as one of the most creative runway models in history.
4. Milla Jovovich
Born in 1975 in Kiev, Milla Jovovich easily conquered the Western world, ultimately reaching the sci-fi movie fields with Resident Evil in 2002. She still exudes her ultra-cool early ‘00s sophisticated vibes, and never stops charming us with her ethereal beauty even if she doesn’t work as a runway model any more. She is a living legend who, besides walking the most prestigious runway shows of all time, has also landed over 100 magazine covers throughout the past two decades.
5. Natasha Poly
Unpronounceable Natalya Sergeyevna Polevshchikova established herself as one of the most in-demand runway models of all time in the mid and late ‘00s, setting the bar higher for anyone who came afterwards.
6. Gigi Hadid
Ever since walking her first runway show a few seasons ago, Gigi Hadid has appeared in prominent high-fashion shows, quickly becoming one of the industry’s currently leading runway, bikini, and lingerie models.
7. Kendall Jenner
Since her breakout year in 2007 alongside her family with “Keeping up with the Kardashian,” everyone knew her career wouldn’t just be that of the average reality show star. Kendall Jenner has, in fact, soon revealed her passion for photography and modeling, and is currently excelling at both.
8. Hailey Baldwin
Along with Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin is the living proof being an A-list runway model is still a thing even after the glorious Nineties, which was the ultimate supermodel era. A habitué of the Tommy Hilfiger runway shows, Baldwin is a rising star for sure!
9. Karlie Kloss
Dubbed ”the panther,” Karlie Kloss is the one who enjoys theatrical runway shows the most, as often proved by her standard Jean Paul Gautier catwalks. Aside from her unforgettable runway modeling skills, she often shares her impressive coding knowledge with equally talented young girls.
10. Gisele Bündchen
Also known as the highest paid model in the world, Bündchen is not only one of the industry’s most renowned bikini and lingerie models, but also one of the runway supermodels whose iconic walk gets copied the most by the newest aspiring runway models.
11. Pat Cleveland
One of the first runway models of the fashion industry, Pat Cleveland is also the one that made theatrical moves a thing during the shows, as we all still vividly remember her legendary “twirl” move.
Known by the nickname Twiggy, Lesley Lawson set the bar high for being the perfect image of the Sixties and Seventies, with her ultra-long eyelashes, and waif-like figure that made her a legend.
13. Gemma Ward
From one legendary model to another! Runway supermodel Gemma Ward is the one behind the “baby doll/ alien” model look, which has been hitting it big in the movie industry lately, too.
14. Karolina Kurkova
Blessed by Anna Wintour’s seal of approval, as she called her “the next supermodel,” Kurkova has been trying her hand at acting as well, and we won’t be surprised to see her star in an award-winning film very soon.
15. Christy Turlington
Representing Calvin Klein for over 20 years was a hard job, but someone had to do it! Runway model Turlington is also one of the most renowned brand ambassadors for the charity project Every Mother Counts.
16. Laetitia Casta
Both a runway and lingerie model (she was a prominent Victoria’s Secret Angel), French beauty Laetitia Casta is also involved in politics, as you may often find her protesting with non-violent human rights movements.
17. Claudia Schiffer
Like Kate Moss, Turlington, Campbell, and more, Schiffer is one of the most renowned runway models of the Nineties, whose astounding modeling skills scored her more than 700 magazine covers.
18. Linda Evangelista
Photographed by the world’s most iconic photographers and featured on the covers of more than 600 magazines, Linda Evangelista’s runway shows were some of the most anticipated back in the late Eighties and Nineties (along with Campbell and Turlington she was part of a triumvirate dubbed “The Trinity”).
19. Heidi Klum
What’s left of a runway model, once she retires from her modeling career? Ask Heidi Klum! Host of Project Runway, businesswoman, fashion designer, and actress, Heidi Klum has it all under her belt!
20. Cindy Crawford
When not busy walking the industry’s trendiest runway shows, Cindy Crawford spent her time creating memorable fashion moments. The iconic red Versace gown she wore to the Academy Awards back in 1991 is still referred as one of the most influential fashion moments of all time.
21. Beverly Johnson
When a runway model makes history by becoming the first black model to grace the cover of Vogue, you know she won’t go forgotten any time soon. Now busy writing books and campaigning for politicians such as Hillary Clinton, Beverly Johnson changed the industry’s strict beauty standards for the better.
22. Agyness Deyn
Among all these A-list runway models, Agyness Deyn is the one that probably stands out the most due to her legendary androgynous look. A habitué at Blumarine, Anna Sui, and Armani, Agyness Deyn is now an actress who occasionally still models, too.
23. Candice Swanepoel
Often on the Forbes Top-Earning Models lists, Candice Swanepoel is the one that inspired the new generation of runway supermodels to start their career, and is currently best known for her amazing work with Victoria’s Secret.
24. Bianca Balti
Italian rebel girl Bianca Balti was busy living a nonconformist life before becoming Dolce & Gabbana’s muse, as well as one of the best runway models of all time, indeed. Having been captured by iconic photographers such as Annie Leibovitz, she also advocates for various charity programs.
25. Coco Rocha
Canadian beauty Coco Rocha is probably one of the most talkative runway models of all time, as besides walking the industry’s most glamorous catwalks, she spends most of her time advocating for charitable associations and trying to make a change when it comes to eating disorders. She also often helps promote Photoshop-free campaigns.
26. Cara Delevingne
London-born Cara Delevingne is the face of the new generation of the millennial runway models, and even won the prestigious “Model of the Year” award at the British Fashion Awards back in 2012. Now busy working on a promising acting career, she is the ultimate trendsetter for sure.
27. Bella Hadid
If Cara Delevingne is the face of the millennial generation, Bella Hadid is her heiress. Chosen as the “Model of the Year” in 2016, Bella Hadid is also one of the most acclaimed Victoria’s Secret models, and is destined to leave a mark on the industry, indeed.
28. Jourdan Dunn
Runway model and actress, Jourdan Dunn made her debut in the industry when she was just 16 years old, then becoming the first solo black model to grace the cover of British Vogue in 12 years. She advocates for diversity in the industry, and has been so far lensed by the most renowned photographers of all time.
29. Mariacarla Boscono
Born in Rome, Mariacarla Boscono lived everywhere since a very young age, due to her father’s work. One of the industry’s most cosmopolitan and one-of-a-kind runway models of all time, Mariacarla Boscono is one of creative designer Riccardo Tisci’s muses, and often mentors young runway models, too.
30. Sasha Pivovarova
Best known as the longest appearing runway model for Prada, Sasha Pivovarova has starred in countless ad campaigns, too, officially becoming one of the busiest runway models of all time. She is also a visual artist whose artistic studio is based in New York, and whose artwork has been displayed in Paris, New York, and published in French Vogue.
31. Joan Smalls
One of the world’s highest paid runway models, with tons of both luxury and ready-to-wear brands reaching out to her when it comes to either ad campaigns or catwalk shows, Joan Smalls spends her time either studying (she majored magna cum laude in psychology), or helping various nonprofit organizations (such as Project Sunshine) reach visibility.
32. Imaan Hammam
Like Joan Smalls, Dutch fashion model of Egyptian and Moroccan descent Imaan Hammam is trying to open doors to more Arabic/ African girls in the industry, trying to raise more awareness of the lack of diversity both on the catwalks and in ad campaigns.
33. Anja Rubik
Captured by Karl Lagerfeld in the 2011 Pirelli Calendar, Anja Rubik is actually one of Lagerfeld’s most favorite top models, not to mention the fact that she is one of the most renowned runway models of all time. She has walked for any luxury brand you may ever think of, from Atelier Versace to Alexander Wang.
34. Binx Walton
Officially dubbed as Instagram’s best bad girl, Leona Binx Walton is the industry’s coolest kid, and we expect a lot from her regarding future trending aesthetics.
35. Anna Ewers
Often compared to Kate Moss and Claudia Schiffer, German Anna Ewers is a rising runway model who has appeared in more than 100 editorials and fashion campaigns, and whose iconic presence on the main social media is definitely helping re-define the industry’s beauty and marketing standards.
36. Liu Wen
One of China’s brightest fashion stars, Liu Wen is one of the world’s highest paid runway models of all time. She is also the first East Asian model, who made her way to the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, winning the hearts of many!
37. Jessica Stam
Considered to be part of the supermodels described as “doll faces”, Canadian beauty Jessica Stam was so popular and successful during the early ‘00s, Marc Jacobs named a bag after her in 2005. Needless to say, the “Stam bag” is still one of Jacobs’ most famous creations.
38. Alessandra Ambrosio
Alessandra Ambrosio is taking the fashion industry by storm, indeed! Known for her work with Victoria’s Secret, runway model Alessandra Ambrosio now mainly works as an actress and is extremely inspirational on her social media pages (we recommend taking a look at her Facebook account!).
39. Adriana Lima
We could fairly state Adriana Lima is one of the best known runway models of all time, as she entered the industry in the late ‘90s and has been on top ever since. She is one of the most prominent Victoria’s Secret Angels, as well as one of Maybelline’s most remarkable brand ambassadors. Whoever hopes to follow in her footsteps, surely has big shoes to fill.
40. Sara Sampaio
Aside from being one of the world’s most promising lingerie models, Portuguese Sara Sampaio is an acclaimed runway model, as well as one of the industry’s most talked-about it-girls.
41. Lily Donaldson
British Runway model Lily Donaldson was scouted at the age of 16 while she was shopping in Camden, and has been hitting it big ever since. She walked some of the industry’s most important shows, and is BFF with runway models Gemma Ward and Irina Lazareanu.
42. Isabeli Fontana
One of the most acclaimed lingerie models of the Victoria’s Secret Lingerie Catalog back in 1999 (when she was just 16 years old, causing controversy), Isabeli Fontana is now often on Forbes’ The World’s 15 Top-Earning Models lists, and is extremely active on Instagram and Facebook.
43. Ming Xi
Chinese Ming Xi is not only one of the world’s most in-demand runway models, but also one of Givenchy’s most iconic brand ambassadors. Also a Karl Lagerfeld favorite, Ming Xi is leaving a deep mark on the fashion industry.
44. Abbey Lee Kershaw
Actress, runway model, and musician Abbey Lee Kershaw has it all! Now mostly focused on her acting career, Kershaw notably landed big campaigns for fashion houses, such as Gucci, Chanel, and Alexander Wang.
45. Vanessa Moody
Relatively new to the industry, Vanessa Moody instantly became one of the world’s most acclaimed runway models after starring in a Michael Kors campaign back in 2016. She’s young, she’s cool, and she has it all to be remembered as one of the best runway models in the fashion industry.
46. Raquel Zimmermann
Included in Vogue Paris’ list of the top 30 runway models of the ‘00s, Raquel Zimmermann is now busy doing campaigns for various brands, as well as acting in music videos such as Lady Gaga’s Born this Way.
47. Aya Jones
Parisian belle Aya Jones is one of Prada’s current favorite runway models, and when not walking the runway, she is busy promoting ethnic diversity and a healthy body image for models. Way to go!
48. Lineisy Montero
Montero has been hitting it big ever since making her catwalk debut a year ago at Prada, which seems to be a hotbed for runway talents, indeed. Creative and often seen in i-D’s editorials, Montero is often regarded as the ultimate it-girl of the moment.
49. Grace Hartzel
Discovered at the age of 15, Grace Hartzel is now a 21-year-old runway model with an astounding resume. Besides her modeling skills, she is also a manga and anime aficionado, and you could very likely find her devouring a manga while waiting for the next casting!
50. Lexi Boling
Often dubbed as the Bad Girl with good habits (she is said to follow a very healthy beauty and diet regimen), Lexi Boling is one of the most sophisticatedly unconventional runway models of all time, although she entered the industry only a few years ago.
51. Greta Varlese
A favorite of Riccardo Tisci, Greta Varlese began her career after participating in an Elite Model Look Italia competition and is now one of the fashion industry’s most acclaimed talents. Captured by many prominent photographers, she has even worked with the likes of Harley Weir, namely the current most in-demand photographer.
52. Maartje Verhoef
Netherlands native Maartje Verhoef has so far walked countless runway shows, and has been even nominated as the most popular model of the season by WWD in 2014. She was cast by Prada for their spring/ summer 2013 show, and is now often seen in the industry’s most glamorous campaigns.
53. Irina Djuranović
Born in Australia, Irina Djuranović had been living in Montenegro almost all her life up until she was scouted a few years ago. One of the industry’s most promising runway models, we will hear from her more and more in the seasons to come.
54. Alexandra Elizabeth Ljadov
Meet Victoria’s Secret’s muse Alexandra Elizabeth Ljadov, who was scouted at a meat festival in Estonia, where she was born and still lives (when not walking New York’s best shows). A milkshake lover, Ljadov is changing the fashion game, for sure!
55. Tami Williams
The talk of the fashion world, Tami Williams is a relatively new runway model, whose talent is undeniably more and more visible season after season. The Jamaican beauty has walked for such big names as Valentino, Alexander Wang, and was actually the first Caribbean model to work with Calvin Klein.
56. Sasha Luss
Instagram-star Shasha Luss spends her time either modeling or looking for all things creative, which inevitably led her to the entertainment industry and encouraged her to try out a thrilling acting career, too.
57. Anna Selezneva
Renowned for her jaw-dropping cheekbones, Selezneva was scouted in 2007 and has never stopped working as a successful runway model ever since. Summing up her career, among all those editorials, shows, and campaigns, is almost impossible!
58. Valery Kaufman
A habitué at the Paris, Milan, and New York fashion weeks, Kaufman is ranked as one of the Top 50 ‘Rising Star’ Models in the world by models.com and is one of Russia’s praised runway models of all time.
59. Taylor Hill
A former gymnast, American runway model Taylor Hill is now one of the youngest, yet most promising Victoria’s Secret Angels, as well as one of the industry’s most gossiped models. Two of her siblings are currently following in her footsteps.
60. Lindsey Wixson
Supermodel and Karl Lagerfeld muse, Lindsey Wixson has now retired from the industry, as she decided to stop her modeling career to focus on interior design and ceramics. She has, however, left a bright mark on the industry walking for the A-list designer shows.
61. Lily Aldridge
Now often busy spending quality time with her young daughter, Lily Aldridge is still one of the best runway models of all time, with her style choices being some of the most copied both inside and outside of the industry.
62. Irina Shayk
If you inexplicably fell in love with Intimissimi ever since 2007, it’s because of Irina Shayk, now a mother and an iconic runway model. As for her role in the film Hercules in 2014, we expect her acting career to rise alongside her modeling one, too.
63. Edie Campbell
An accomplished horse rider, Edie Campbell is part of U.K.’s next generation of supermodels, with well-known fashion houses such as Chanel, Burberry, and Hermes always looking up to her when it comes to their seasonal shows.
64. Arizona Muse
Ever since her breakout season thanks to Prada in 2010, Arizona Muse has never stopped surprising us with her mesmerizing modeling skills and genuineness. She is never afraid to speak her mind, as well as reminding us that even successful runway models that apparently have it all, may have a hard time when it comes to the private area.
65. Catherine McNeil
Declared by Vogue Paris as one of the top 30 models of the ‘00s, Aussie McNeil makes grunge sexy season after season, which usually coincides with a new tattoo for the model, too.
66. Josephine Skriver
Danish runway model Josephine Skriver has walked over 300 fashion shows ever since she was discovered in 2011. She was actually discovered at the age of 15, but decided to leave high school before pursuing her successful modeling career.
67. Doutzen Kroes
Victoria’s Secret stunner Doutzen Kroes is probably one of the industry’s most inspiring runway models when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle, as she loves exercising, having fun outdoors, and swimming!
68. Freja Beha Erichsen
When not on the catwalk proving that a runway model can easily sport shaggy hair at the industry’s most glamorous shows, too, Danish model Freja Beha Erichsen is usually busy either reading a good classic or listening to one of Bjork’s albums.
69. Karmen Pedaru
One of Estonia’s highest paid runway models, Pedaru was also one of Estonia’s top goalkeepers, as she played in Estonia’s national soccer team before she was discovered in 2008.
70. Frida Gustavsson
Swedish runway model Gustavsson is a girl with many passions, which will very likely lead her either to a designing or acting career once she retires from her busy modeling schedules.
71. Natalia Vodianova
Nicknamed Supernova, Vodianova is an acclaimed runway model best known for her talked about eight-season, seven-figure contract with Calvin Klein. When not modeling, she spends most of her time advocating for the Naked Heart Foundation, a philanthropic organization Vodianova founded.
72. Magdalena Frackowiak
A runway model on a mission, Magdalena Frackowiak is an inspiring accessory designer, whose first creations became a huge must-have array of it-items back in 2015.
73. Daphne Groeneveld
Best known for appearing on the cover of Vogue Paris alongside Tom Ford in 2010, Dutch model Groeneveld has walked for countless shows, among which the ones for Carolina Herrera, Marc Jacobs, Chanel, Emilio Pucci, Max Mara, Dior, and Gucci are just a few to single out.
74. Erin Wasson
Now designer and stylist (although she still models, occasionally), Wasson is one of the world’s best runway models of all time, for sure, and her iconic walk is still one of the most copied ever!
75. Miranda Kerr
Australian sweetheart Miranda Kerr began modeling when she was just 13, and rose to prominence especially after her debut as a Victoria’s Secret model back in 2007. Having walked a multitude of runway shows for high fashion brands, she’s definitely one of the most famous runway models in the industry, and also a great businesswoman with her own skincare line, KORA Organics.
76. Bette Franke
Discovered by iconic Dutch modeling agent Wilma Wakker while shopping with her mother at 14 (such things happen for real!), Bette Franke has so far walked the industry’s most glamorous shows, as well as has been featured in print advertisements for luxurious fashion houses, such as Oscar de la Renta, Celine, Yves Saint Laurent, and Stella McCartney.
Although runway models may not meet the typical measurement requirements depending on the type of the show or designer they are about to work with, they do usually need to comply with certain conditions. It is always important to remember that the clothes will always be the real protagonists of a fashion show, and they have to be showcased at their best during the entire runway show.
For this reason, female runway models usually need to be at least 5’9” (175 cm) with slight builds, small busts (cup A – B), and narrow hips, and weight indicatively around 110 to 125 lbs (50-57 kg) (although the weight may definitely vary depending on the person and the fashion house, and it is therefore always more important to focus on the build).
Typically a runway model should be 16 to 21 years old, and if you are under 18, be ready to be accompanied by a parent or a legal guardian. Although by 23 you may be considered too old to become a runway model, you still can be lucky to start it late if you are fit enough and with interesting facial features. Once you build a successful modeling career, you can keep walking the runway for far more years than you can imagine, just like Gisele Bündchen or Naomi Campbell.
Another requirement/ piece of advice is that it’s important to always eat healthy, which is not to be intended as “be on a diet 24/7”. Drinking a lot of water, exercising and eating regularly and healthy, with tons of vegetables on a daily basis, is mandatory in order to have all the energies required to work as a runway model, not to mention the fact that a glowing, healthy-looking skin is a must-have requirement when you are about to be photographed on the catwalk with the seasonal must-have pieces of clothing on.
And when we say healthy-looking skin, we mean it! To become a runway model, you should have a flawless skin, which means updating your skincare regimen, knowing your skin and treating it right. Always put on sunscreen as you walk out the door to prevent premature aging and any sunspots on your face. Give up any bad habits that may cause harm to your skin, such as smoking, drinking or partying too hard too often.
The next requirement is advice many do not take into consideration. Since you have to strut down the catwalk, looking for modeling classes is mandatory. A runway model that is 5’9’’ tall but doesn’t know how to properly rock that catwalk, is not going to be called to any show.
On the other hand, a runway model shorter than 5’9” can also have the chance to become successful as long as she is a bright personality, self-confident and charismatic enough to win the admiration of the fashion designers and the audience. After all, there are so many famous short models that have made it big in the fashion industry!
Once you feel you meet all the requirements to become a runway model, do your research to find a good fashion photographer, one who has already worked with runway models and can thus create a professional portfolio for a good modeling agency. Look for the ones that sponsor internationally famous runway models, whether they are alternative or more conventionally high fashion.
Boost your self-confidence level, brand yourself (social media can be a powerful medium for this as well), and know how to introduce yourself the best way possible during the interview. Give preference to a minimalist style with just a touch of makeup on your face to help the modeling agency evaluate your natural beauty during the interview. Be ready to answer their questions intelligently, smile often, and make sure you read that contract carefully before signing it!
Last but not least, if you want to become a runway model, make sure you are ready to meet demanding schedules and a chaotic timing. Fashion shows are, in fact, slated for specific dates and times, and showing up late (no matter how traffic congested Milan or London can be that day) is never an option.
Work on your discipline before contacting a modeling agency!
Photos via Instagram, Vogue