From Linda Evangelista's abuse allegations against her ex-husband to Naomi Campbell's fight for equal pay
For decades, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford and Christy Turlington have dominated our magazine covers, runways and TV screens. But thanks to Apple TV+'s new four-part documentary series The Super Models, for the first time, fans have been given the opportunity to go past just the iconic images of these '90s legends and learn about all the struggle, heartache and personal triumphs that got them to where they are today.
While these four women have lived so much of their lives in the public eye, there's still much that transpired in private that has not been brought to light before now. Here's just a handful of the biggest bombshell moments from the documentary that will make audiences see these models as not just supers, but superhuman.
Linda Evangelista Accuses Her Ex-Husband of Abuse
In the third episode of the series, Evangelista makes shocking claims about her relationship with ex-husband, Gérald Marie, the former head of Elite Model Management's Paris office.
"It's easier said than done to leave an abusive relationship. I understand that concept because I lived it," Evangelista, now 58, claims in the documentary. "It wasn't a matter of just saying, 'I want a divorce, see ya.' It doesn't work that way."
She continues, "He knew not to touch my face, not to touch the money maker, ya know? I married him when I was 22 and I got out when I was 27, and he let me out as long as he got everything. But I was safe and I got my freedom."
Marie's lawyer tells PEOPLE: "Gérald Marie firmly objects to the defamatory and false allegations made against him."
In 2021, Marie was accused of rape and sexual assault by at least 15 women, including American model Carré Otis and '90s supermodel Karen Mulder. In February 2023, French prosecutors announced they had closed their criminal investigation into the accusations against Marie as they all allegedly took place during the '80s and '90s, which exceeds the country's statute of limitations.
Marie maintains his innocence, categorically denying the accusations via his lawyer and claiming that he "has never committed the slightest act of violence," and that these women "intend to frame" him "as a scapegoat for a system, for an era, that is now over."
However, several alleged victims have said they will continue to pursue their claims against Marie in civil court and intend to appeal the French criminal prosecutor's decision.
Naomi Campbell Discusses the Racism She Faced in the Fashion Industry
In the third episode of the documentary, Campbell lays bear the racism she faced in the fashion industry and how advocating for equal pay wound up costing her years of employment.
"It was hard to be an outspoken Black woman and I definitely got the cane for it many times," she says, adding that she earned the reputation of being "difficult" as a result. When Campbell left Ford Models for Elite Modeling Agency, the founder John Casablancas took her to a meeting at Revlon, who wanted to offer her a contract that paid substantially less than her white peers. She rejected the offer outright, having been told by her fellow models with similar beauty deals how much she should be paid, embarrassing Casablancas. So the agent went to the press and told them that she was "difficult" and he had fired her, the documentary shows.
Throughout the series, Campbell also brings up numerous examples of the casual racism she faced, like cabs refusing to stop for her to the point that Turlington had to flag them down, her first editorial in America being set on a slave plantation in the South, and designers refusing to cast her in shows until Turlington and Evangelista threatened not to walk if she wasn't included.
Cindy Crawford Explains Why She Posed for Playboy Against Everyone's Wishes
While everyone in her life thought shooting for Playboy would be the death knell of her career, Crawford saw it as an opportunity to take ownership over her own image, calling the entire experience "empowering."
The model admits in the doc that while it "was definitely outside the normal trajectory for a Vogue model at the time," there was "something about it that intrigued" her. Crawford shot the editorial with famed fashion photographer Herb Ritts, taking the photos at the same time they were doing another editorial for French Vogue in Hawaii.
She says, "You almost couldn't tell which pictures were for FrenchVogue and which pictures were for Playboy." Her one stipulation for the photoshoot was that they didn't need to pay her a lot to do it.
"As long as I [could] have control of the images and I wanted the right to kill the story if I don't like it," she says of her stipulations, adding, "I never felt like a victim of that decision."
Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford Thought Modeling Was Not a Real Career
Despite finding unprecedented success and longevity in the field of modeling, both Turlington and Crawford confess in the documentary that it was not something they ever considered to be a real career when they first got started.
In the first episode of the series, Crawford admits, "I never even thought about modeling. I didn't even know it was a real job. I didn't know how I would get from DeKalb, Illinois, to a magazine."
She adds, "My dad really didn't understand that modeling was a real career. He thought modeling was like another name for prostitution." Even once her career began to take off, Crawford was still more interested in pursuing academics and going to college than landing the cover of a magazine.
Raised just outside Oakland, California, Turlington likewise didn't see modeling as a viable career path. Although, growing up in a small town, she admits that she always thought there had to be something better out there for her. Turlington was ultimately discovered while riding at a horse stable in Miami, but admits that as a teenager, "modeling was not cool at all."
The only upside for a teen? "It gave me money," she says with a laugh.
Naomi Campbell Shares How Designer Azzedine Alaïa Protected Her from Predators in the Fashion Industry
Campbell may have never had her father in her life, but she found her forever "papa" in legendary French fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa. The model explains that, when she was 16 and traveling alone in Paris, she got her purse and all of her money stolen. A fellow model took pity on her and invited her out to dinner that night where she met Alaïa and there was an instant father-daughter bond between them.
"He gave me an outfit and he asked me to put it on to see what his clothes look like on me," she says. "I put it on and he liked how it looked and then he asked me where I was staying, and I told him at the Hôtel Lenox. He then said to me, 'Where's your mother?' and I said, 'My mother's in London, my mother speaks French.' So he said, 'Call her.' So I called my mum and they spoke, and he told my mum that he would take care of me, that I would stay under his roof, and that I would be safe to stay there. My mother did not know who she was talking to, never met him, but trusted him. And so, two days later, I moved into Rue de Parc Royale."
Campbell says the designer introduced her to "so much in the world."
"I met so many amazing people, I learned about art, architecture, design, most importantly I got to watch him work, I got to be part of his work, and he really treated me like a daughter," she adds.
He also protected her from the more nefarious side of the fashion industry. "Once, an art director felt the need to tell me that he thought my breasts were perfect, but he felt the need to have to touch them," Campbell reveals. "I called papa immediately. I called papa right away, and papa called him up and read him. He never came near me again. It served that I opened my mouth and would speak my truth because I believe that protected me, as well as who I was surrounded by."
She concludes, "When he passed away, it was a shock to the system. My life would've definitely been different without him. He protected me in this business. He guided me."
Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington Didn't Know the Lyrics to George Michael's "Freedom! '90"
While they both gave incredibly memorable lip-sync performances in George Michael's "Freedom! 90" music video, Evangelista and Turlington confess that they were very much still learning the song's lyrics while on set that day.
Evangelista, who initially was not interested in doing the video at all (as it wasn't fashion), says, "When I got to the set and they wanted me to lip-sync, I didn't know the words. I had to learn them very quickly in the trailer while they were doing my hair and makeup."
Turlington likewise was learning on the fly, admitting, "My very first scene that I shot was where you just see my eyes through, like, this cutout. You see my mouth, then you see my eyes, you see my mouth, you see my eyes. And anytime I dip down it's because I don't know the words yet. I'm not that great with lyrics."
Cindy Crawford Reveals Why She Will Never Have Short Hair Again
Crawford reveals that a traumatic haircut early on her career is responsible for a lifelong aversion to short hair. She explains in the first episode of the series that she got her first big break when she booked a shoot in Rome with famed fashion photographer Patrick Demarchelier. However, the photographer wanted her to cut her hair very short before they worked together, but both she and her agency decided it wasn't worth it and told Demarchelier she wouldn't do it. He agreed to take her on the shoot anyway.
Once she arrived in Rome, it was a different story.
"The very first night, they send the hairdresser to my room to give me a 'trim.' They comb my hair, put it in a ponytail, and chop my ponytail off without asking," she says. "I was in shock and I just sat there in a hotel in Rome crying. And people wonder why I've never really cut my hair since then — that's why. I was so traumatized."
The whole ordeal was so harrowing it make Crawford reconsider modeling entirely.
Linda Evangelista Speaks Candidly About Her Many Health Scares and Depression
Evangelista bravely spoke to People in 2022 about her nightmare experience with fat-freezing procedures that left her "permanently deformed" and "brutally disfigured" and living in seclusion for almost five years. In the final installment of the documentary, she once again addresses those dark times, as well as her battle with breast cancer.
"As long as I'm going to live, it's okay. I've just been dealt so many blows that I feel like this is just another one and I'll get over it because what am I going to do? I have to get over it."
The model adds, "Had someone told me, you're going to grow fat, hard fat that we can't remove, I would've never taken the risk. I wish we could just really see ourselves in the mirror non-distorted without ever having seen ourselves with a filter or retouched. That is what has thrown me into this deep depression that I'm in. It's like a trap, you're trapped with your self that you hate. It's been years since I worked and years of hiding."
On top of that, in 2018, Evangelista was also diagnosed with breast cancer. "The decision was very easy to make to have a double mastectomy, but it came back," she says in the documentary.
In July 2022, Evangelista found a lump on her breast. She explains that because of a genetic disorder she's had since childhood, Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome, she's has countless surgeries over the course of her life that have led her to think of scars as "trophies."
She adds, "[It's] like I overcame something and I won. I battled something and I survived. So I can celebrate a scar, but to be disfigured is not a trophy. I can't see how anybody would want to dress me, I just can't. Now, to lose my job that I love so much and lose my livelihood, my heart is broken."
Christy Turlington Reveals She Hemorrhaged After Childbirth
Turlington explained where her interest in women's health, specifically reproductive health, and her charity Every Mother Counts originated from in the final episode of the documentary.
In the '90s, the model was outspoken about the devastating effects that smoking can have, and during that period of advocacy, a report on women and tobacco was released, which she says "pissed me off" that it hadn't been done until now.
"It opened the door for the kind of work I do now with maternal health and do more than I ever imagined I would do," she adds.
She says that when she got pregnant with her first child, she and her husband were "super excited" and she was "so ready for this next adventure and phase of my life."
"After I delivered, I hemorrhaged. It became a complication that had to be managed, which was painful and I lost a lot of blood, but my child was born, she was healthy."
The experience, though, made her want to do something to help other women in similar situations.
"I was so informed and I had so many resources, why did I not know this was possible and why did I not know that so many women die from similar complications around the world? I just sort of dove in and started this organization called Every Mother Counts."
Naomi Campbell Admits She Turned to Drugs to Cope with Grief After Losing Close Friend Gianni Versace
Campbell touches on her close relationship with famed fashion designer Gianni Versace — the creator of the Versace fashion house. After working together for years and growing close both professionally and as friends, Campbell was devastated by his murder in 1997.
She reveals in the documentary that between the pain from that and trauma from her early life led to drug use.
“When I started using, that was one of the things I tried to cover up, was grief. Addiction is such a — it’s just a bulls--- thing, it really is,” Campbell says. “You think, ‘Oh, it’s gonna heal that wound.’ It doesn’t,” she continues. “It can cause such huge fear and anxiety. So I got really angry.”
The fashion icon says that she had learned about “chosen families” thanks to Versace and Alaïa, in particular, and so Versace’s murder hit her hard.
“He was very sensitive to feeling me, like, he pushed me. He would push me to step outside and go further when I didn’t think I had it within myself to do it. So, when he died, my grief became very bad,” Campbell recalls.
However, she said that situation led her to check into rehab, which she called “one of the best and only things I could have done for myself at that time.” She says it has helped her deal with her emotions from her past.
“It’s taken me many years to work on and deal with,” she added. “And it does still come up sometimes. But I just now have the tools how to deal with it now when it comes up.”
Cindy Crawford Shares Rare Comment About Marriage to Richard Gere
Before Crawford was married to Rande Gerber, she was married to actor Richard Gere — and in the docuseries, she offers a few rare comments about the relationship from her 20s.
"I think I was 22 when we met," the supermodel says as she reflected on the relationship. "In the beginning of a relationship, when you're a young woman, you're like, 'You like baseball? I like baseball. Oh, you're really into Tibetan Buddhism? I might be into that. I’ll try that,'" she adds of the religious practice Gere is known for.
Crawford adds, "You’re willing to kind of mold yourself around whoever you are in love with."
Crawford also mentions in the series that her career was changing during that time. "He was older, so I just was, like, in a different circle and not doing some of those same fashion-y things anymore," she explains.
The two married in 1991 and split in 1995.
Christy Turlington Gets Surprised by Her Topless Photos Showing Up on a Magazine Cover
Turlington recalls a photoshoot with Demarchelier where the two were working together on a project for British Vogue that turned into a casual session. She says she was topless and wearing hair extensions covering her breasts and Demarchelier, as he was taking photos, asked her to continue lowering her arms to reveal more and more skin.
Turlington opens up about her thought process at the time and how she wavered about how she was feeling.
"I remember being self-conscious, but I didn't feel necessarily bad. I felt good from that shoot, I felt pretty in that moment," Turlington says. "Patrick didn't give me the creeps, per se, but I do remember being like, 'Oh my gosh, I shouldn't be doing this.'"
The supermodel got the shock of a lifetime, though, when her nude photos turned up on the cover of PHOTO magazine — without her knowledge.
"Eventually, that image came out on the cover of PHOTO magazine… it was still like, 'Oh gosh.' I don't know what I thought it was for, but I definitely didn't think it was for a cover of a magazine," she says. "I don't think there was any age that you were supposed to be in order to have a nude picture. I don't think there was anyone monitoring or regulating any of that."
The Super Models four-part documentary series, spotlighting the extraordinary careers of Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington, debuts Sept. 20th exclusively on Apple TV+.
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