Charting the long-standing history of models in music videos, from Naomi to Gigi

models-in-music-videos

Models and music videos have had strangely intense relationships since the ’80s. Hair bands, pop idols and rappers all have a history of using leggy ladies to straddle their wind-blown stages and wind up their poolsides for the sake of airplay. The way we saw supes in song started changing when feminism kicked into high-gear in the mid 90s and glamazons like Linda, Iman, Helena and, later, Kate, Gigi and Karen Elson, reflected the zeitgeist. Many of these beautiful women got beyond fashion-famous by starring in music videos and serving the kind of ferocity that went on to inspire drag queens and fashion fanatics everywhere. To celebrate models in fashion and music, we’ve rounded up some stand-out model/music-vid combos for your viewing pleasure.

Christy Turlington in “Notorious” by Duran Duran.
Serving up serious fierce face, Christy heated up DD’s ‘86 hit with her glances and prances. Vogue UK went on to put her on the cover that summer and the band loved her look so much they used her image for the back of the Notorious album.

Helena Christensen in “Wicked Game” by Chris Issak.
Scorching hot musician meets scorching hot model. They tumble around in the sand in a beach in Hawaii. They do not need Netflix to chill in this Herb Ritts-directed classic.

Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford and Tatjana Patitz in George Michael’s “Freedom! ’90”
The video that made supermodels into superstars. All inspired by Peter Lindbergh’s classic cover of Vogue UK, featuring the supes. Directed by Gone Girl’s David Fincher, this vid exemplifies flawless fierceness at full capacity.


Tyra Banks in “Love Thing” by Tina Turner
Before T.Banks was screaming at young, irresponsible posers on America’s Next Top Model, she got her big break trying to keep up with Turner in a leopard catsuit.

Stephanie Seymour in Guns N’ Roses’ “November Rain”
Who could forget la Seymour walking down the aisle with her real-life bf at the time, Axl Rose, in this thigh-high cut wedding dress designed by Carmela Sutera.

Iman in “Remember the Time” by Michael Jackson.
MJ wanted to remind everyone that Iman is the one true free leader of the supermodel world, so he cast her as his Cleopatra-esque love interest and blew our mind into smithereens.

Naomi Campbell in Michael Jackson’s “In the Closet.”
Madonna is rumored to be singing vocals in this song but the video is eclipsed by Naomi’s legs—which go for miles and make you forget that MJ is wearing an awkward-fitting V-neck tank.

Eva Herzigova, Linda Evangelista, Nadja Auermann, Emma Sjöberg, Estelle Hallyday, Shana Zadrick, Tyra Banks, Beverly Peele, Emma Balfour in “Too Funky” by George Michael.

On Michael’s Barbarella-meets-Valley of The Dolls runway struts a sashaying cast that tries to out-shade each other with hair flips, cut-eyes, hand gestures and outfits by Thierry Mugler. The looks embodied the mythical “I don’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day” attitude.

Cara Delevigne in “Ugly Boy” by Die Antwoord
Before she quit modeling, Delevigne redefined her position as rebel rousing runwayer by starring in this blood-soaked, Keith Harring-meets-Marilyn Manson-inspired mini movie.

Karlie Kloss, Cindy Crawford, Cara Delevingne, Gigi Hadid, Martha Hunt and Lily Aldridge “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift
The birth of the squad. Although this video is about females fighting against each other, its aim was to present models as allies, not backstabbing competitors. It’s like the anti- “Too Funky.” For some, it worked.

Lara Stone in “Night & Day” by Hot Chip
Ms. Stone is cast as a Sci-Fi 3D queen that snuggy-wearing geeks worship and get down to…in a library.

Karen Elson in “Blue Orchid” by The White Stripes
The song is rumoured to be about Renee Zelwegger but the video is where Elson and Jack White first met (they later married). Floria Sigismondi directs the video in an old-world horror way and at the end of it, Elson is about to be trampled on by wild horses.

Andrej Pejic and Saskia De Brauw in “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” by David Bowie
Bowie loved models and featured many of them in his previous videos. This one, however, has Pejic and De Brauw assault a suburban grocery store with their beautiful gender fluidity. Tilda Swinton spends most of the video looking disturbed.

Gigi Hadid “Pillow Talk” by Zayn
Bringing her One Dimensioner boyfriend to the fourth dimension, Ms. Gigi hit the internet hard by lip locking Zayn in this green-screened-to-the-hilt vid.

Alek Wek in “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See” by Busta Rhymes
Filmed like a goddess, Wek hovers over Busta’s crazy stage with the ferocity of X-Men’s Storm and a Tom Ford-ian makeup palette that is hotter than lava.

Kate Moss in “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself” by The White Stripes
Only The White Stripes could get Kate Moss—indie model gang leader—to move the most she has in years. Here, she pole dances and still looks like she gives zero fucks while doing it.

Emily Ratajkowski “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke ft. T.I. & Pharrell
It may not be the most tasteful or PC of hit songs but Em Rata brings a jaunty sense of energy to an otherwise totally creepy Terry Richardson video. Even here, she seems as unapologetic about her sexiness as she does in her series of Kardashian selfies.

Winnie Harlow in “Freedom” by Beyoncé (featuring Kendrick Lamar)
Although Bey has used a few models in videos before (Jourdan Dunn & Joan Smalls in Yonce), nothing compares to the masterminded move of including Canada’s own Winnie Harlow—who hails from Toronto and represents the future of beauty as we know it. Harlow has a skin condition called vitiligo but that hasn’t stopped her hustle or her fame. Harlow’s striking cameo in this video is a reminder to us all that models can also be part of great change.

Amber Valetta, Gemma Ward, Devon Aoki, Alessandra Ambrosio, Tara Lynn, Angela Lindvall, Isabeli Fontana and Natasha Poly in “M.I.L.F. $” by Fergie
Pronounced “Milf Money,” Fergie’s latest video features a star-studded roster of our favourite runway mavens from years (and decades) past. Also part of the mommy squad are Chrissy Teigen, Ciara and, of course, Kim Kardashian West. Watch your back, Taylor Swift.