It’s Stockholm Fashion Week—and the sight of pretty young things flitting through the city’s tree-lined streets offers a fresh reminder of the shrewd sartorial sense and all-around impossibly good genes of the Swedish people. Which got us thinking: For a country of less than 10 million people, they’ve certainly supplied their fair share of beauty icons.

Long before Linda, Christy, and Naomi demanded thousands to get out of bed, after all, Lisa Fonssagrives’s cool, Nordic allure captured the imagination of photographers like Richard Avedon and Irving Penn—landing her on countless covers of Vogue and Vanity Fair throughout the thirties, forties, and fifties and earning her the unofficial title of the world’s first supermodel along the way. Fellini muse Anita Ekberg’s voluptuous cascade of platinum waves was as hypnotizing as her zaftig curves as she waded through the Trevi Fountain in 1960’s La Dolce Vita. And who could forget Sweden’s answer to the Swinging California beach babe, Britt Ekland? She went from pageant queen to Bond girl in 1974’s The Man With the Golden Gun with the help of her fresh-faced good looks.

Of course not all of the country’s beauties were of the tow-headed variety. With her dramatically arched brows and heavy-lidded gaze, the Stockholm-born, Hollywood-bred brunette Greta Garbo (née Gustafsson) could project a devastatingly aloof sensuality without uttering a single word, while Ingrid Bergman’s pillowy sensual features transfixed everyone from Alfred Hitchcock to Ingmar Bergman. Here, a look at a few of our all-time favorite Swedish models and leading ladies.

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