They spark inspiration, controversy and sometimes even confusion: Models are a breed not only hypnotizing with their good looks, unreal bodies and skin, but also influential in terms of fashion trends — especially now thanks to the ubiquitous presence of street style.
The best models transcend simple photo shoots and become part of the cultural zeitgeist — influencing styling, photographers, and fashion itself even long after they’ve gone. Here, we’re highlighting 50 of the most influential models, both past and present, to spark some inspiration.
Who’s your favorite model of all time? Tell us in the comment section – we want to know!
Click through to see fifty of the most inspiring models to date!
Twiggy has forever set the bar for being the perfect image for the '60s teenager. Her large eyes, waif-life figure and long eyelashes have made her a legend.
Karlie Kloss is the newest up and coming supermodel for the high fashion world. Her runway walk is dubbed the "moody gait"and caused quite the ruckus for her racy Italian Vogue shoot earlier this year.
Billy Farrell/BFAnyc/Sipa USA/Billy Farrell/BFAnyc/Sipa USA
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley began her career as an actress in the film Transformers, but shortly thereafter, nabbed a deal with Burberry.
Gemma Ward might be the single-hand influence behind the "baby doll/alien" model look. She became fashion's sweetheart in a matter of months, landing campaigns for Calvin Klein and Valentino.
Elle Macpherson is well-known for her record five cover appearances on Sports Illustrated. Check out that body!
Anna Wintour called Karolina Kurkova the "next supermodel." Need we say more?
Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
Milla Jovovich has landed over 100 magazine covers and the coveted title of Miuccia Prada's muse.
Francesco Carrozzini/Francesco Carrozzini
Arguably today's most well-known Victoria's Secret Angel, Miranda Kerr has taken the fashion world by storm. Maybelline granted this model campaign success, also ranking among the world's highest paid models to date.
Yeh/McMullan/Sipa Press/Sipa Press
Kate Moss is known as one of the greatest supermodels of all time. Her heroin-chic look became highly publicized with a well-known ad campaign for Calvin Klein Jeans only to follow with more of her personal drama between boyfriends and drug use.
Christy Turlington is best known for her 20 years of representing Calvin Klein. She's also given back in many ways, such as her campaign Every Mother Counts.
Tyra Banks is one of the most well-known supermodels in the world. She was the first African American to be on the covers of Sports Illustrated and GQ, as well as Victoria's Secret.
Isabella Rossellini became a hit during her fourteen year run as a model for Lancôme. The Italian beauty then went on to become an actress, filmmaker, philanthropist and author! Not too shabby.
Claudia Schiffer is not only know to be beautiful for this cover of Vogue, but she has been on over 700 others!
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Selita Ebanks has been everywhere from Neiman Marcus and Ralph Lauren to Sports Illustrated and Victoria's Secret as an infamous angel. This girl is a go-getter!
GIULIO MARCOCCHI/GIULIO MARCOCCHI
Cheryl Tiegs was on the cover of Glamour when she was 17 years old. What isn't to love about her innocent school-girl look?
Naomi Campbell has been declared the "reigning supermodel of them all" by Interview. She has been featured in campaigns of the world's greatest supermodels for Vogue and Vanity Fair.
Laetitia Casta is known for both her modelling and political involvement. While she was modelling for Guess? and Victoria's Secret, she was also demonstrating in non-violent protests for the French Republic and the French President. She has appeared on more than 100 magazine covers.
Janice Dickinson is known as the world's first supermodel. Still need more info?
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Linda Evangelista has been featured on over 600 magazine covers and is the muse of famed fashion photographer Steven Meisel.
Brooklyn Decker has been a Sports Illustrated and Victoria's Secret swimsuit model and most recently starred in three films. Check out What to Expect When You're Expecting to see her latest!
Krista Kennell/Krista Kennell
Iman got the ultimate start in the fashion world: a cover for American Vogue. She quickly became the muse for designers like Yves Saint-Laurent, Halston and Donna Karan.
Kate Upton was named Rookie of the Year in 2011 and 2012 for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. At just 20 years old, she's also been named the cover model for 2012. Watch out for this girl!
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Beach Bunny
Jean Shrimpton is considered to be one of the world's first supermodels. She also starred with Paul Jones in the 1967 film Privilege. This woman has it all!
Being half Korean and half African American, Chanel Iman captured the eyes of fashion's elite designers and editors. She remains on top of the field with deals as a Victoria's Secret angel, starred in a huge amount of editorials and fronted numerous magazines.
Neil Rasmus/BFAnyc/Sipa USA/SIPA USA
Lauren Hutton is best known for her playful-like attitude as a Playboy Bunny, as well as the face of Revlon Cosmetics. Her slight gap tooth only furthered her career as she embraced this imperfection.
Heidi Klum is most recently the host of Project Runway, but that's not all. This woman is a model, actress, businesswoman, fashion designer, television producer and occasional singer. Is there anything she can't do? We sure don't think so.
DUPUY FLORENT/SIPA/1205250253 /
Grace Kelly is the epitome of classic style and grace. Upon becoming the Princess of Monaco, she was the poster for elegance with admirers located globally.
Howell Conant/Howell Conant
Candice Swanepoel is best known for her work with Victoria's Secret. She was No. 10 on Forbes' list of The World's Top-Earning Models between 2010 and 2011.
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Cindy Crawford is an iconic supermodel best known for her trademark mole above her upper lip. The red Versace gown she wore to the Academy Awards in 1991 is known as one of the most influential moments in fashion history.
Agyness Deyn was featured on Vogue's cover for 2007's new crop of supermodels. She has landed campaigns with Blumarine, Anna Sui and Armani while bringing back the androgyny trend.
SIPA Press/SIPA Press
Being a muse to fashion designer, Rudy Gernreich in the 1960s and hair cut by Vidal Sassoon himself, Peggy Moffitt became an emblem of the 60s look with a face painted to perfection and the original five point hair style.
Brooke Shield's thick eyebrows, dazing gaze and controversial Calvin Klein Jean's ads from the 80s pushed her to the top of the modeling tier.
A strong advocate against eating disorders, Coco Rocha put a new spin on the term "model." Since then, she has become the face of many top ad campaigns, runways and magazine covers.
Billy Farrell/Billy Farrell
Beverly Johnson made history by becoming the first black model to grace the front cover of Vogue. Her first agent was among many who told her she could never make it, but Beverly went on to author two books, a record, Hollywood cameos and a goodwill ambassador honor from former President Bill Clinton. This inspirational model showed the world that there is no color to true beauty.
Francesco Scavullo/Francesco Scavullo
Caroline Trentini was scouted by the same person as Gisele, as if that wasn't enough to be confident of a killer career, Marc Jacobs made her the face of one of his top campaigns proving her staying power.
Billy Farrell/Billy Farrell
Sophia Loren is famous for her voluptuous figure, sultry gaze and her classic Hollywood look. Being one of the most famous actresses of all time, she graced the covers of all of the top magazines.
Having served as the face for Burberry, Lily Donaldson has stolen hearts and acted as a muse for many different designers.
Paul Zimmerman/Paul Zimmerman
Alessandra Ambrosio is the first model to be the face of Victoria's Secret's Pink brand. She got her start with the Millenium Guess Campaign and hasn't slowed down since.
Jessica Stam was named #15 on the top 15 if the world's grossing supermodels by Forbes. She has graced the covers and runways of fashion's elite (and Marc Jacobs has even named a bag and campaign after her).
Brian Zak/Brian Zak
Stephanie Seymour is known as one of the first Victoria's Secret models and was also dubbed as one of Vogue's "Modern Muses." She has also been the face for Salvatore Ferragamo and The Gap.
Estelle Lefebure is known as one of the top models of the 80's and 90's, scoring nationally spread campaigns for Guess, Revlon and Cartier.
Bar Refaeli is on top of men's hot lists, from Maxim to Sports Illustrated. She has received the "World Style Award" from the Women's World Awards and is the face for Subaru and Garnier International.
Scouted on the streets of Prague, Petra Nemcova has appeared in campaigns for Cartier, Bulgari and La Perla. She is also one of the most well-known Victoria's Secret Angels today and is no stranger to the Sports Illustrated scene.
Walter Iooss Jr./Walter Iooss Jr.
One of the most famous women of all time, Marilyn Monroe is the largest influence of a sex symbol to date.
Penelope Tree was one of the first 'alien' inspired faces that hit the pages in the 1960s offering a more unique appearance to the girl-next-door peers.
Crystal Renn caused quite a stir as she broke into the mainstream modeling world, which is almost unheard of for a plus sized model.
Helena Christensen is a Danish fashion model and former Victoria's Secret Angel. She's appeared on many high fashion magazine covers and is well-known for her support of breast cancer fundraising and other charities. At the age of 43, she still continues to model.
Matt Carasella/Patrick McMullan/Matt Carasella/Patrick McMullan
A shift away from the popular California girl look in the late 1970s and 80s, Gia Carangi was both unexpected on set and infamous for her movement in front of the camera.
With her slight frame and hypnotizing stare, Veruschka became an icon of the 1960s and immortalized with her brief but mesmerizing appearance in the classic film, Blow Up.