While a handful of the nineties hottest models still have careers in fashion, many have moved on to new walks of life. Forging paths as real estate agents, beauty entrepreneurs, actresses, and authors, these women prove that reinvention doesn’t begin and end on the catwalk. Catch up with twelve of the decade’s most recognizable faces here.
Originally from: Kokstad, South Africa
First Vogue cover: May 1997
Big break: Grenville rose to prominence after winning the South African round of Elite Model Look in 1990. It wasn’t long before she was walking for the decade’s power brands—Versace, Christian Dior, and Valentino included.
Known for: Grenville credits Tom Ford with taking her career to the next level. “Becoming the Gucci girl was a defining moment,” she says. “The fashion industry in the nineties was decadent and fun. There was so much going on. It was a creative and liberated moment in fashion.”
Where she is now: Stepping away from fashion in 2000, Grenville first traveled back home to South Africa. These days she lives in Paris with her husband and three children, balancing life as a wife and mother with the occasional bit of modeling work. “I now concentrate on sharing our incredible world with my children. We travel as much as possible. I try to teach them all the things I’ve learned because I feel like I really am one of the luckiest people ever.”
Originally from: Montreal
First Vogue cover: April 1992
Big break: Ghauri was spotted by a scout while working at McDonald’s. Her mixed heritage and dramatic features made her a refreshing change from the bubbly blondes who ruled the modeling scene in the 1980s.
Known for: Though Ghauri was a favorite of famous photographers like Patrick Demarchelier and Steven Meisel, her true domain was the catwalk. Gianni Versace, Karl Lagerfeld, and Thierry Mugler counted on her to bring their collections to life. Victoria’s Secret took note and enlisted Ghauri as one of the label’s earliest spokeswomen.
Where she is now: In the mid-nineties, Ghauri chose family over fashion, marrying lawyer Ralph Bernstein and retiring from modeling. They live in Bedford, New York, with their daughter, Maia, and son, Victor. Today, Ghauri focuses her attentions on fundraising for environmental causes and breast cancer research.
Originally from: Philadelphia
First Vogue appearance: “Couture Clash” by Peter Lindbergh, April 1997
Big break: Shaw was discovered while studying fashion design at an arts high school; her first fashion experiences came from staging her own shows for classmates.
Where she is now: Shaw preps young models for life on the catwalk as a Paris-based fashion consultant and runway coach. A multi-instrumentalist since childhood, she plays violin, cello, and piano, and has toured Europe with her jazz quartet, the aptly named Debra’s Dream.
Originally from: Hasselt, Belgium
First Vogue appearance: “Independents’ Day” by Annie Leibowitz
Big break: Emerging at the end of the nineties, Knuts presaged the aughts fashion obsessions. Androgynous, austere, and fearless in front of the camera, she became a favorite of the Belgian duo Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin.
Where she is now: Knuts curated an exhibition of photographs of herself, “UltraMegaLore,” that ran at Belgium’s Hasselt Fashion Museum in 2010. A new mother, she also keeps busy posing for the painter Michaël Borremans; appearing in films by her husband, Nicolas Provost; and even starring on a season of Belgium’s Dancing with the Stars.
Esther De Jong
Originally from: Amsterdam
First Vogue appearance: “Fashion’s New Establishment” by Steven Meisel, July 1996
Big break: Working as a babysitter to photographer Anette Aurell, De Jong was introduced to Marilyn Agency founder Marilyn Gaultier, who signed her on the spot. Almost immediately Steven Meisel selected De Jong for an Italian Vogue cover story. “At that point I was so new that I didn’t realize what an amazing opportunity it was, and what it meant for the rest of my career,” says De Jong. “I was an untraveled farm girl from rural Holland, then all at once my career took off.”
Where she is now: Balancing independent film projects, a lucrative racehorse breeding business, and raising her son, De Jong makes runway appearances for special occasions, like Prada’s star-studded fall 2013 show.
Originally from: Northern Florida
First Vogue appearance: “Paris Couture: In the Grand Tradition” by Steven Meisel, October 1994
Big break: Though she was scouted at 15 and modeled for the likes of Chanel and Chloé, Goff says her career kicked into high gear the moment she appeared in Vogue. “American Vogue and the Versace campaign by Richard Avedon were huge for me,” says Goff. “It put me on the map.”
Known for: Wide-eyed and delicate-featured, Goff stood in sharp contrast to the nineties glamazons and heralded a fresher, more youthful aesthetic. She fronted ads for everyone from Jil Sander to the Gap.
Where she is now: As a real estate agent, Goff has proven herself as skilled at navigating New York’s housing market as she once was at marching down the runway. Her son, Nyima, made his runway debut at Anna Sui’s Fall 2015 show.
Originally from: Dallas
First Vogue appearance: “The Cocktail Party” by Ellen von Unwerth, September 1995
Big break: During a night out with friends, North was approached by a male model who encouraged her to check out his agency in Texas. Signed shortly thereafter, North soon left the Lone Star State, heading to Paris and New York for modeling jobs. Working with many of the decade’s biggest designers gave North an insider’s appreciation of the nineties fashion scene and its glamour. “I think of shows like Isaac Mizrahi, Marc Jacobs, Anna Sui, Todd Oldham, and of course, Galliano’s—they were complete spectacles,” she says. “The energy was insane, but at the same time they were intimate.”
Where she is now: With a son headed for high school and a burgeoning career as a contributor to the Dallas Morning News’ fashion glossy, FD Luxe, North has her plate full. “I’ve been married for 22 years to the foxy guy in Steven Meisel’s iconic grunge pic with Kristen McMenamy! I’m a mom, so it’s less about me, which is a great thing!”
Originally from: New York City
First Vogue appearance: “Gypsy Soul” by Bruce Weber, April 1992
Big break: Spotted in a record store as a teen, Mason went from a LaGuardia High School student to a superstar model seemingly overnight.
Known for: Mason’s sensual good looks made her appealing to a variety of clients, including Revlon, which tapped her for the now-iconic Richard Avedon Unforgettable campaign. Mason also counts her work for Vogue as an especially memorable period—particularly when it had her working alongside Bruce Weber and Grace Coddington. “Creativity was high in the nineties,” she says. “There was more freedom of expression due to the fact that it was before the digital age took over, and that is what people are nostalgic for, I believe.”
Where she is now: Mason has just finished up her first book, Finding the Supermodel in You: The Insider’s Guide to Teen Modeling. It’s scheduled to hit bookshelves in November.
Originally from: Essex County, New Jersey
First Vogue appearance: “Independents’ Day” by Steven Meisel,
Big break: Hicks made her runway debut at Dolce & Gabbana, just as the model look shifted from glamazon to waif. Selected for the corresponding Dolce campaign, she quickly became a well-known face in Steven Meisel’s photographs and on the catwalks, particularly those of John Galliano, which she considers career-defining. “You knew you were part of something completely new and incredibly creative doing his shows.”
Known for: Hicks appeared in countless editorials, especially in Vogue. “One of my first Vogue shoots was with Steven Meisel and Grace Coddington,” Hicks shares. “They were double-page group shots, some in Central Park and some in the studio. Trish Goff, Lucie de la Falaise, Bridget Hall—so many different faces of the nineties were included in that series. It really felt special to be included in that group, and I love the pictures.”
Where she is now: Though she still appears on the runway via exclusive turns for Givenchy and Louis Vuitton, Hicks is now focused on her acting career, which took off with 1999’s Twin Falls Idaho. Working with auteurs like David Lynch and Michael Polish, she’s built a not-insubstantial résumé. “I have been working on a couple of different TV series,” she says. “Public Morals on TNT is airing August 25, and I am very excited about that.”
Originally from: Detroit
First Vogue appearance: “An American in Paris” by Bruce Weber, January 1991
Big break: Originally from Detroit, Webb headed to New York to study animation at Parsons The New School for Design. While at college, Webb was encouraged by a makeup artist to try her hand at modeling. Success came quickly, and Webb relocated to Paris, where she became a muse to both Azzedine Alaïa and Karl Lagerfeld.
Known for: Webb broke boundaries as the first black model to garner a Revlon contract, an experience commemorated with a special Vogue story. She still recalls the day of the shoot: “I cherish the portrait of myself in a top hat and tails, taken by photographer Dewey Nicks,” says Webb. “Elizabeth Saltzman was the editor, and the picture was inspired by a famous photograph of Judy Garland.”
Where she is now: Spending the last few years in Florida with her husband and children, Webb is now focusing on a new role: businesswoman. With her own line of hair products set to launch next year, Webb once again hopes to shake up the industry. “I think about health and wellness before everything else,” says Webb. “I’ve used all the skills and contacts I acquired through modeling to invest and partner in businesses related to fashion and beauty.”
Originally from: Thames, New Zealand
First Vogue appearance: “Silk Cuts” by Pamela Hanson, January 1996
Big break: Scouts in a New Zealand shopping mall first spotted Bax, but long before setting foot on the runway, she was a fashion fanatic. Her knowledge of fashion and enthusiasm for the industry impressed Karl Lagerfeld—who would encourage her to cut her hair into her signature platinum pixie—and Steven Meisel, who took her under his wing as a protégé.
Known for: Bax’s combination of edge and sex appeal made her a versatile commodity in the nineties, swapping stints on the runway at Prada and McQueen for sittings with Helmut Newton. For Bax, the high points came via work with her heroes. “The defining moments were the ones where I found myself traveling on the Concorde to shoot with big-name supermodels,” says Bax. “To be working alongside and being embraced by my idol Linda Evangelista. Working with Karl Lagerfeld was life-defining. He gave me an incredible sense of what it meant to be a top model.”
Where she is now: Bax now successfully breeds horses while occasionally modeling and raising her three girls. “My horses have always been my passion,” she shares. “The first contract I got with Escada, I bought a horse farm in Kentucky. I built a house there and attended the Kentucky Derby. It was my investment. Something my father told me to do when I earned money was to invest wisely.”
Nadège du Bospertus
Originally from: Montfermeil, France
First Vogue appearance: “Nude Study” by Peter Lindbergh, November 1989
Big break: Spotted by a photographer while studying economics at school, Du Bospertus initially planned to model only intermittently, but when she met photographer Herb Ritts while shooting a commercial, those plans changed. Ritts loved Du Bospertus’s unique look and energy in front of the camera. She soon found herself photographed by the likes of Bruce Weber, Steven Meisel, and Patrick Demarchelier.
Known for: At the height of her career, Du Bospertus was the face of Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Versace, and several other luxury mainstays. With her cropped hair and bright smile, she was a distinctive addition to the supermodel lineup, frequently working with close friends like Carla Bruni.
Where she is now: Though she stepped away from the spotlight after the birth of her first son, Du Bospertus never completely left the fashion scene. She was a judge on Italia’s Next Top Model for three seasons, and she can occasionally be seen in the front rows at fashion shows, covering Milan Fashion Week for the Italian magazine Amica.
The post ’90s Models: A Look Back at the Faces—Famous and Slightly Less So—That Defined a Decade appeared first on Vogue.