Move over Kim and Kylie: The IT girls of the 70s and the 80s were the real trailblazers, and here's what they're up to now
A look at the supermodel 'It' girls of the 70s and 80s and why they did not meet the fate of the first 'It' girls including Clara Bow and Marilyn Monroe
There are different ways to identify a decade and "It" girls have often been an epitome to mark an era. As of today, the word 'It' has evolved to be used interchangeably in the fashion world.
If you happen to carry the latest bag of the season or wear the right accessory with the trendiest of apparels then you'll likely hear someone nonchalantly address you as the 'It' girl or refer to your bag as the 'It' of the season.
The two-letter slang is the title many crave for and it is awarded without much filter. Today's bearer of the title include supermodels such as Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid, Cara Delevigne and latest asset into the fashion world, 16-year-old Kaia Gerber.
The 2018 etymology of the word has ample connotations from bags to people to mobile games, but the early literary usage of ‘It’ in this sense may be traced to a 1904 short story by Rudyard Kipling; "It isn’t beauty, so to speak, nor good talk necessarily. It’s just ‘It’."
Then came Elinor Glyn British novel 'It' and lead to the screenplay which entitled the actress, Clara Bow, as history's first 'It' girl. Glyn described 'It' to be; "With It, you win all men if you are a woman and all women if you are a man. It can be a quality of the mind as well as a physical attraction."
The first 'It' girl introduced was all about physical attraction and sex symbol as Bow was discovered while in her teens. Bow's rival in the movie is equally young and comely rich and well-bred woman, who despite, lacks the 'It' factor. Bow was succeeded by the platinum blonde Jean Harlow as the silver screen's sexual 'It' girl. Then by the 1950s 'It' girl crown was bequeathed to the ultimate blonde bombshell -Marilyn Monroe.
Till the time, it was maintained that 'It' girl was a quality of an ingenue and a femme fatale, with a touch of Madonna's “Material Girl” incarnation. But in the 1990's, 'It' girl started referring to a wealthy, normally unemployed, young woman often pictured in tabloids attending many parties in the company of other celebrities, receiving media coverage in spite of no real personal achievements.
The writer William Donaldson observed that, having initially been coined in the 1920s, the term was applied in the 1990s to describe “a young woman of noticeable ‘sex appeal’ who occupied herself by shoe shopping and party-going.”
But the original 'It' girls are the now un-faded ones, who have held on to their throne by venturing into various opportunities, the wild and notorious bunch of the 70s and the 80s supermodels who established 'It' beyond silver screen and turned it into a movement. The 00's 'It' girls have willingly followed the OG girls of the 70s and 80s, skipping the 90s. Let us remember the OGs who redefined 'It' girls and see where are they now.
1. Janice Dickinson
In the 70s, Janice won a modeling competition as a teen and headed to NYC to chase her dreams of stardom. By 1978, she earned a whopping $2,000 a day in contracts, during that time and appeared on several Vogue covers throughout her lengthy career. The world knows as the self-proclaimed "world's first supermodel," and she has been on the news lately after testifying at Bill Cosby's retrial.
Today at the age of 63 she has maintained a high profile in the fashion industry, appearing for several seasons on Tyra Banks's hit reality show America's Next Top Model and releasing a number of memoirs detailing her "wild days" as a supermodel, where she talks about her experience with plastic surgery; and her battles with anorexia, bulimia, and alcoholism.
2. Lauren Hutton
With a record of appearing on the cover of Vogue a remarkable 40 times, the model was initially told to conceal the gap between her two front teeth. Discarding the suggestion, she went on to flaunt her "imperfection," which later became one of her most distinguishable and iconic features.
The 73-year-old still flaunts her gap and grin. At the ripe age of 73 years and 11 months, Hutton became Vogue's oldest cover star in October 2017 for all three covers of Vogue Italia's "Timeless Issue," which is the publication's first ever issue dedicated to women over 60. Hutton has continued to model into her seventies, appearing in numerous advertising campaigns for H&M, Lord and Taylor, and Alexander Wang, and walked the runway for Tom Ford's spring 2012 collection, as well as for Bottega Veneta at the 2016 New York Fashion Week.
3. Beverly Johnson
As the first African-American model to appear on the cover of American Vogue in 1974, Beverly Johnson paved the way for models of color in the fashion industry. Prior to Johnson, black models were rarely seen in fashion and after her Vogue cover, designers began casting models of color.
Now at the age of 65, Johnson has authored a book on modeling called Beverly Johnson's Guide to a Life of Health and Beauty. She also served as a celebrity judge on The Face, a reality show where contestants compete for a modeling contract. Johnson also launched a successful wig and hair extensions collection.
The Somali-American fashion model Zara Mohamed Abdulmajid, mononymously known as Iman, rose to fame with her tall, slender figure and striking bone structure that ultimately made her a massive hit in the fashion world from the mid-1970s onward, where Yves Saint-Laurent described her as his "dream woman."
After almost two decades of modeling, Iman started her own cosmetics firm in 1994 focusing on difficult-to-find shades for women which instantly had a net-worth of $25-million-a-year by 2010 and till date continues to be one among the top-selling foundation brands on Walgreens' website. The 52-year-old is also noted for her philanthropic work and is currently a spokesperson for the Keep a Child Alive program, and works closely with the Children's Defense Fund.
5. Naomi Campbell
One of the most sought-after and also reputably notorious supermodels of the '80s and '90s, Naomi made history as British Vogue's first black cover model in over two decades, in 1987. Campbell was part of the original model "Trinity" with Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista, which eventually became the "Big Six" with the additions of Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, and Kate Moss.
Now at the age of 47, she has embarked in other ventures, besides her modeling career, which include an R&B-pop studio album and several acting appearances in film and television, such as the modeling competition reality show 'The Face' and its international offshoots.
Campbell is also heavily involved in charity work for various causes. In September 2017, Campbell appeared in Versace's Spring/Summer 2018 show celebrating the late Gianni Versace, alongside Schiffer, Crawford, Christensen and Carla Bruni and also featured in the campaign for the collection. This month, she graced the cover of British GQ alongside rapper Skepta.
6. Kate Moss
Kate Moss was discovered in 1988, when she was just 14 years old. Arriving at the end of the "supermodel era", Moss rose to fame in the mid 1990s as part of the heroin chic fashion trend. Her collaborations with Calvin Klein brought her a fashion icon status and she was known for her waifish figure and soon enough joined Campbell and others in the "Big Five" group of supermodels, growing it to the "Big Six."
She received an award at the 2013 British Fashion Awards to acknowledge her contribution to fashion over 25 years. Moss is also a contributing fashion editor for British Vogue.Her waifish figure and "heroin chic" look into a fashion movement.
In 2007, Times named her one of the world's 100 most influential people and she has inspired cultural depictions including a £1.5m ($2.8m) 18 carat gold statue of her, sculpted in 2008 for a British Museum exhibition. In recent years she received media scrutiny for her party lifestyle and drug use, but she cleaned up and resumed modeling. In 2012, she came second on the Forbes top-earning models list, with estimated earnings of $9.2 million in one year.
On 30 April 2014, Moss launched her second collection for Topshop that resulted in a long-lasting relationship with the brand. The new collection is inspired by Moss's own wardrobe and is being sold in 40 countries. As a 44-year-old today, Kate Moss was spotted attending a royal wedding in Peru with Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie on April 22.
We can mark the 70s and the 80s as a decade epitomized by the 'OG' 'It' girls who took their super model prowess and built and empire instead of reeling in the temporary fame. So Rudyard Kipling did interpret the 'It' correctly; "It isn’t beauty, so to speak, nor good talk necessarily. It’s just ‘It’." The 'It' being the present and how the 70s and the 80s still uphold the 'It' today.