Nigel Barker On What Makes a Model a Legend

Nigel Barker, the debonair photographer-turned-TV host/judge of such shows as America's Next Top Model and The Face just launched his new book, Models of Influence: Fifty Women Who Reset the Course of Fashion. It's a real walk through fashion history with legendary names like Gia Carangi, Christie Brinkley, Jean Shrimpton and Penelope Tree. We chatted with Nigel to find out what it took to make it into the pages of his book.

Was it difficult to choose the 50 most influential models? What were the criteria?

When I first drew up my initial list of models who spoke to the specific looks of each generation over the past 75 years I came up with a list of over a hundred names. However as the name of the book states I was looking for models who more than epitomized a moment but rather women who transcended the modeling business and helped shape the times too. I decided to focus on models who were trailblazers and pioneers as well as the most successful.

From the research did you find that there were eras when the models were more legendary? 80s supermodel? Swinging 60s?

Every generation had legendary models and certainly as time has gone on women appear to become more daring. The fact of the matter is you have to look at what was happening in every time period to appreciate how hard it was for women. The Sixties had models like Twiggy who stood for authenticity and individualism as well as Naomi Sims known for not taking no for an answer and pushing ethnic boundaries in both magazines and advertising. Yes the 1980s were particularly intoxicating with the famous "Trinity" of Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington and their legendary status can never be challenged, but it may never have been possible without the ladies who came before them.

Is there something that all the models in the book have in common?

The common denominator has to be everybody's strength of character, drive, determination and confidence, which added to their allure and of course inspired the designers, photographers and world at large. Diversity is such a topic in the fashion world today. Do you find today the modeling scene is more or less diverse than it was in the past?

Without a doubt the modeling world is far more diverse than it was in the past. Never before has there been models of all ethnicities and varying degrees of height and size working at the highest level. Sure there is still a long way to go and the majority of models are still Caucasian and probably too thin but with social media playing a large part in who is in vogue, we the people have never had a stronger voice to demand who we want to see in the pages of a magazine and on billboards in Times Square.

Could there be a male version of the book in the future? I'd buy ten copies!!!

Anything is possible, Mr. Mickey, and now that I know I can sell ten copies I'll get right on that!

Nigel Barker Photos

Nigel Barker Photos

Nigel Barker Photos

Nigel Barker Photos

Nigel Barker Photos

Nigel Barker Photos

Nigel Barker Photos

Nigel Barker Photos

Nigel Barker Photos

Nigel Barker Photos

Nigel Barker Photos

Nigel Barker Photos

Nigel Barker Photos

Nigel Barker Photos

Nigel Barker Photos

Nigel Barker Photos

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