In a world full of models (short models included) and insta-celebrities, is there still such a thing as a supermodel? With the fashion industry being so hectic, it is worth taking a minute to just stop and wonder: who is a supermodel? What does it take to become a supermodel? Is being blonde and tall mandatory in order to be a supermodel? Is there such a thing as a petite model?
Throughout the decades both models and supermodels have done more than advertise dresses and whimsical shoes, as they have challenged the society’s norms and beauty standards, as a result changing the way we perceive fashion. Whether it was with the heroin-chic era of the Nineties or with the doe-eyed Twiggy-inspired beauties of the late Sixties, supermodels, whether short models or average ones, have never missed a chance to influence the way we perceive fashion, while at the same time portraying our society’s ever-changing beauty standards.
Although the early ‘00s body-positive movement mostly focused on plus-size models, in order to understand the importance of such figures, we must take a few steps back, focusing on petite models. It was, in fact, with the shortest supermodels that our society ultimately took its first step in body positivism, opening its doors for all kinds of models.
Before jumping into the careers of the most successful short models, let’s point out the concept behind the so-called supermodel phenomenon.
Most Successful Shortest Models of All Time: Contents
- Supermodels 101 – Where Do Supermodels Come from?
- How to Become a Petite Model?
- 25 Most Successful and Famous Petite Models of All Time
First things first, the term ‘supermodel’ refers to a high-fashion model who works with the world’s leading fashion designers and, due to her influence, is able to make an impact when it comes to the society and contemporary culture. For obvious reasons, supermodels, whether they are petite or plus-size, tend to have imposing portfolios and even more head-turning modeling contracts, with several agencies around the world being more than eager to represent them.
As for the evolution of the term, we should add the fact that, in order to be an actual supermodel, one should keep bearing on the society even after the retirement (hi Gisele Bündchen, do you feel ringing in your ears?).
It was English fashion designer Charles Frederick Worth who brought forth modeling as a profession back in 1853, when he made his wife model his haute couture creations. Later the concept was adopted by many Parisian fashion houses as well, and photo modeling also emerged as a profession.
In 1946, the world’s oldest and first-ever modeling agency, Ford Models, was founded by Eileen and Gerard Ford, who were also the first to start scouting and organizing supermodel competitions.
As for when the term “supermodel” was coined, we have to go back in time to the Sixties, with petite supermodel Twiggy being one of the first models to be referred to as such. With the very first models being kind of voluptuous and rather pin-up, petite supermodel Twiggy was considered as an anomaly in the industry, yet her innate charm, one-of-a-kind style and iconic attitude helped her become the face of the equally iconic Swinging Sixties.
Twiggy was not only one of the most famous and successful petite models, but she also paved the way for many short models to come, forever changing the course of the fashion history and transforming models into walking legends. After her, models like Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, and Kate Moss, quickly became the next supermodels everyone was (and still is) obsessed with.
Due to the growing number of models today, becoming a supermodel is extremely tough, much more when you want to become a petite model. It is no secret, in fact, that the desirable measurements for female models are anything but short, as they should be at least 5’8”, with the safe range commonly standing at 5’9” to 5’11”. Long story short, having a petite figure is not what one could call getting off to a good start.
As you will shortly see, however, some of the most successful petite models of all time were (very) short indeed, yet their short height was easily balanced by their personal and extremely iconic characteristics. In order to become a successful petite model one should take the following things into consideration:
• Typically no taller than 5’7’’, but above 5’1”, a petite model needs to know her strength and best features, and make them work. Take for instance Twiggy, whose characteristic pixie cut and big eyes are still vivid in everyone’s imagination.
Do you have anything characteristic that only you possess, like a specific feature of the face, which could make you unforgettable and instantly recognizable? Well, rock it and accentuate it! Finding one’s uniqueness is a must in the fashion industry in general.
• Physical appearance aside, it is important to find your own style, namely your signature look. Since Twiggy is probably the best example when it comes to supermodels (whether short or tall), I am going to use her as an example once more. Big eyes and long lashes aside, Twiggy became the face of ’66 (which is also the title of a documentary about her) thanks to her iconic London-approved swinging style, which everyone is still trying to copy. If you want to become a successful petite model, you’d better work on your wardrobe!
• Here there’s a piece of advice many often underestimate or do not think about when it comes to a career in the fashion industry, i.e. posture. Having a good posture is mandatory if you want to become a successful short model, so our advice is to start practicing sitting with a straight spine and, more importantly, keeping your shoulders back when walking even down the street, or at home.
• Once you have worked on your look, you have to acknowledge all of your modeling opportunities, which, thanks to the social media, have increased exponentially. If becoming a runaway short model DAL GIORNO ALLA NOTTE is actually hard, modeling for catalogs, magazines and ads is way easier. Invest your time in looking for modeling opportunities in both your local area and internationally, as well as for various categories.
Modeling for specific parts of the body such as hands, teeth, eyes and faces is a good way to start implementing your portfolio with successful jobs. Investing in a good portfolio is also extremely important, as it is a model’s business card. For this reason, believe in your worth and invest in a good and professional photographer and art director, because one really gets what one pays for!
• After investing your money in a good portfolio, you should start investing your time looking for agencies that have signed short models and supermodels before, too. Sign only with the agency that fits your needs the most, and don’t forget to review your contract carefully! It may be harder for a short model to succeed in the industry, but don’t get discouraged, there are plenty opportunities out there, just go catch them!
• Last but not least, the best way to become a successful petite supermodel is choosing the petite (super) role model that suits your personality and style the most. To make things easer for you, we compiled a list of the 17 most successful short models of all time, so that you just have to find the one that matches your attitude, and just let inspiration overwhelm you!
So the most successful and famous shortest models that have made it big in the fashion industry are:
1. Lily-Rose Depp (5’3”/ 1.60 m; 47 kg/ 103 lbs)
One of the youngest and shortest models hitting it big in the fashion industry is Lily-Rose Depp, the daughter of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis. Not only is she Karl Lagerfeld’s muse, having walked for Chanel runway shows multiple times and starred in the house’s beauty and eyewear ad campaigns, but also she has graced many a magazine cover and is also an aspiring actress.
Lily-Rose may be just 5’3” and 18 years old (born in 1999), but she’s shining bright like a star both in the movie and fashion industries.
2. Devon Aoki (5’5”/ 1.65 m; 50 kg/ 110 lbs)
Shout out to one of the shortest models that made it to the catwalk, Devon Aoki! Born in 1982, Devon Aoki was scouted at only 16, and quickly became one of Versace’s most iconic brand ambassadors.
Aside from being extremely talented, one of Aoki’s strengths is surely her unique appearance and astounding facial features, which surely have to deal with her multi-ethnic heritage. Our beloved petite model Devon Aoki is, in fact, of Japanese, German and English ancestry!
So far, she has been the face of such high-end fashion houses as Hugo Boss, Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Moschino, and Fendi.
3. Marilyn Monroe (5’5” 1⁄2/ 1.66 m; 53 kg/ 117 lbs)
Of course, we had to add the one and only Marilyn Monroe to our list of the most successful short models! Throughout her tormented yet artful life, Marilyn Monroe worked as an actress, singer and model, and is still righteously considered as the pinnacle of femininity and attractiveness. She took the industry as well as everyone’s hearts by storm, and her innate charm and gentle soul will never go forgotten.
4. Twiggy (5’6”/ 1.67 m; 51 kg/ 112 lbs)
Since we mentioned her so much throughout the first part of this article, we felt like we had to make our list of the best short models complete with Twiggy leading it, a.k.a. Lesley Lawson née Hornby, a.k.a. the queen of the petite models. Born in London in 1949, Twiggy became a British cultural icon in her teenage years, as she became a prominent teenage petite model during the Swinging Sixties.
Known for her androgynous look, her fame quickly spread worldwide thanks to various magazine covers such as for Vogue, and she is still considered the supermodel par excellence. After retiring from her modeling career, she enjoyed her career as an actress and singer, and even wrote an autobiographic book, Twiggy in Black and White.
5. Lottie Moss (5’6”/ 1.68 m; 52 kg/ 115 lbs)
Younger sister of supermodel and it-girl Kate Moss, Lottie Moss made her modeling debut at the age of 14, and her short height was never an obstacle for her to reach new heights in the fashion industry.
One of the most successful short models of the modern era, Lottie has walked for the runway shows of such iconic fashion houses as Chanel and Sonia Rykiel among others, has graced a myriad of magazine covers, has starred in fashion campaigns for Topshop Unique, Red Valentino and Bulgari, to name just a few.
6. Sofia Richie (5’6”/ 1.68 m; 58 kg/ 128 lbs)
It seems like if you are the daughter of a famous personality, you are already born as a supermodel, regardless of your height and weight. Lionel Richie’s younger daughter Sofia is among the ones born under a lucky star, as she scored a modeling career at the age of 14. No wonder she is talented enough to be considered one of the best short models in the industry, which is proved by her collaborations with Chanel, Tommy Hilfiger, Dolce & Gabbana, Michael Kors, Adidas and others.
7. Jenny Shimizu (5’6”/ 1.68 m; 50 kg/ 110 lbs)
Calvin Klein, Jean Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler, Banana Republic, and Donna Karan are just some of the fashion houses and brands that wanted Jenny Shimizu to be featured in their ads in the late Nineties/ early ‘00s! Along with Kate Moss, she started the whole heroin-chic aesthetics, although in her case it was spiced up with an ultra-cool androgynous style!
Aside from being undeniably petite, Shimizu is unapologetically unconventional and never afraid to stand for her rights, which include same-sex marriage and the freedom to love whoever she wanted to.
8. Laetitia Casta (5’6” 1⁄2/ 1.69 m; 57 kg/ 125 lbs)
Those who lived in Europe, specifically in Italy, during the Nineties, have at least once dreamt of meeting French petite model Laetitia Casta. Ethereal and with an unapologetically chic Parisian allure, Casta has appeared on a grand total of 100 fashion magazine covers and became one of Victoria’s Secret’s most successful lead models during the Nineties, starting out the whole “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show craze”.
9. Eva Pigford (5’6” 1⁄2/ 1.69 m; 56 kg/ 124 lbs)
Winner of the third season of America’s Next Top Model, Eva Pigford is an internationally acclaimed short model, a TV host, and an actress who, despite her extremely petite figure, managed to walk some of the most prestigious runways, as well as fronted some of the industry’s most covetable campaigns.
Being a petite woman of color is not always something that the fashion industry (unfortunately) celebrates, but Pigford fought against all the stereotypes and is now one of the most successful examples one could possibly follow!
10. Kate Moss (5’7”/ 1.70 m; 55 kg/ 121 lbs)
Is there a way to describe how important Kate Moss’ career has been for the industry? Probably not! Often dubbed as “too short” and even “odd” for being a supermodel, Kate Moss surprised everyone becoming the ultimate supermodel of all time, setting the rules for the generation of (petite) models who came after her. Heroin-chic, enigmatic and iconic, as well as one of the best runway models of all time, Kate Moss is a living legend!
11. Camille Rowe (5’7”/ 1.70 m; 54 kg/ 119 lbs)
French-American model and occasional actress Camille Rowe is what one could describe as the astounding beauty next door that one cannot help but hopelessly fall in love with. Like in a film, she was spotted in a café in Le Marais in Paris, where she was studying at university back in 2008, and since then has never missed a chance to flaunt her petite figure to front campaigns such as those of Chloé, H&M, Louis Vuitton, Victoria’s Secret, Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Tommy Hilfiger.
12. Emily Ratajkowski (5’7”/ 1.70 m; 54 kg/ 119 lbs)
Unpronounceable Ratajkowski was signed by Ford Models at the age of 14 and has quickly become one of the world’s most followed and desired short models of all time. Although thriving for a successful career in the film industry, petite sex bomb Ratajkowski is always somewhere on the cover of a magazine or in a fashion ad campaign striking her best poses, and we bet she will keep on getting captured by the world’s leading photographers for many years to come.
13. Georgia May Jagger (5’7”/ 1.70 m; 56 kg/ 124 lbs)
Being 5’7’’ is not considered as being “petite” by many, but we all know the fashion industry follows its own rules. Iconic and legendary, Georgia May Jagger instantly became one of the world’s most successful short models as soon as she walked the first runway, following in her mother Jerry Hall’s footsteps. Being only 25 years old, we expect great things from her!
14. Lydia Hearst (5’7”/ 1.70 m; 50 kg/ 110 lbs)
If her surname comes as familiar to you, that’s because not only is Lydia Hearst one of the world’s most notable short models, but also because she is a member of that Hearst family, a.k.a. one of the most powerful American mass media and business information conglomerates in the publishing industry.
Neither too petite, nor tall enough to be considered an average supermodel, Lydia Hearst has covered many fashion magazines, such as Vogue, Marie Claire, and Elle, and was even chosen as the mentor for Naomi Campbell’s modeling reality competition, The Face.
15. Yamila Diaz-Rahi (5’7”/ 1.70 m; 56 kg/ 124 lbs)
Petite model Yamila Diaz-Rahi has been living the fashion dream ever since she was discovered in 1996 in Uruguay. Although hitting in big in 1999, making it onto the Sports Illustrates Swimsuit Issue, it was with CoverGirl’s ad that she became legendary, as she was the first Latin spokesmodel in CoverGirl’s history. Needless to say, she appeared in a Victoria’s Secret catalog, too!
16. Charlotte Free (5’7”/ 1.70 m; 53 kg/ 117 lbs)
A short, delicate figure and ethereally pink hair can apparently be the key to success, or so it seems like if you happen to be Charlotte Free. One of the world’s most eclectic short models, pink-haired Charlotte Free is an habitué both at Chanel and on social channels, like Tumblr and Instagram, as she is probably one of the ultimate icons of the millennials when it comes to alternative fashion.
17. Rose Bertram (5’7”/ 1.70 m; 63 kg/ 139 lbs)
Belgian model Rose Bertram was cast as a model at the age of 16, and since then has scored major collaborations with Agent Provocateur, H&M, L’Oréal and many others. Not only is she a young, aspiring short model, but also she was the first-ever Belgian model to appear in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
18. Hailey Baldwin (5’7” 1⁄2/ 1.71 m; 54 kg/ 119 lbs)
Yet another Hollywood family member has made it on our list of the most famous short models of all time! Daughter of actor Stephen Baldwin and BFF of Kylie and Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin signed with Ford Models and made her runway debut in 2014 walking for Topshop Unique.
In March 2016, she signed with IMG Models, and has been featured on various magazine covers, including LOVE Magazine, American Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. She has walked the runways for Moschino, Elie Saab, Dolce & Gabbana, Prabal Gurung and many others, and even has been tapped as the face of L’Oréal Professionnel!
19. Sara Sampaio (5’7” 1⁄2/ 1.72 m; 54 kg/ 119 lbs)
Green-eyed beauty Sara Sampaio is not an average short model, but one of the best bikini models and a Victoria’s Secret Angel that took wing when she was discovered at the age of 15. She was the first Portuguese model to be featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue back in 2014, winning Rookie of the Year.
Sara is one of the most successful (short) models of all time, constantly landing fashion magazine covers, walking for the major fashion houses, including Elie Saab, Miu Miu, Balmain, Marc Jacobs, Tommy Hilfiger, and Moschino among others, and promoting Victoria’s Secret around the world.
20. Cara Delevingne (5’8”/ 1.73 m; 51 kg/ 112 lbs)
Not only petite models but also petite millennials are taking over the fashion industry, and Cara Delevingne is here to prove it. A trendsetter, a style icon and a fashion revolutionary figure, Cara could be considered, without further ado, Twiggy’s millennial-approved counterpart, with her career moving toward the film industry, too. Petite, British and proud, whatever Cara Delevingne wears or does becomes an instant diktat.
21. Adwoa Aboah (5’8”/ 1.73 m; 56 kg/ 124 lbs)
British fashion model and feminist Adwoa Aboah is a designer favorite not only because of her eccentric appearance and posture, but also her rebellious spirit. Standing tall enough at 5’8’’ to be considered one of the tallest among the famous short models, Adwoa has appeared on the cover of American Vogue, and has modeled for Alexander Wang, Versus Versace, Fendi, Calvin Klein and DKNY, constantly adding new names to her CV.
22. Marisa Miller (5’8”/ 1.73 m; 55 kg/ 121 lbs)
Blonde bombshell Marisa Miller was scouted at the age of 16 and is best known for her appearance in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and her collaboration with Victoria’s Secret. She was even chosen to wear the Victoria’s Secret Fantasy Bra back in 2009!
Marisa has appeared in a handful of international fashion publications, has worked for A-list brands and designers, and is rightfully considered one of the best short models in the fashion history!
23. Yaya DaCosta (5’8”/ 1.73 m; 56 kg/ 124 lbs)
From one petite model to another, please meet Harlem queen Yaya DaCosta, a short model who, when not fronting celebrated campaigns such as those for Garnier Fructis, Oil of Olay, Radioshack, Seda, Sephora, and Dr. Scholl, is busy fighting stereotypes and being creative. Not falling in love with her style, attitude, and personality is basically impossible.
24. Isabella Rossellini (5’8”/ 1.73 m; 59 kg/ 130 lbs)
Not only did Isabella Fiorella Elettra Giovanna Rossellini break the industry being an extremely successful petite model, but also starting her career later in her life, at 28, which is when most models usually retire from the catwalk. She appeared in basically any magazine from British Vogue to Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, and ELLE, and is probably one of Lancome’s most iconic brand ambassadors. She is now an actress, whose beauty apparently never fades away.
25. Selita Ebanks (5’8” 1⁄2/ 1.74 m; 55 kg/ 121 lbs)
When thinking about Victoria’s Secret Angels, many picture super tall models with super long, blonde hair, as the industry of lingerie and beachwear is a sector often perceived as super standardized. Well, that’s actually not the case, as VS has always promoted diversity and petite figures as well.
Also one of the best lingerie models in fashion history, Selita Ebanks is just one of the most remarkable petite models that managed to walk the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, even becoming the 12th highest paid supermodel in 2008. Who says short models cannot be successful?
Photos via Instagram