Models are everywhere, and it can be a tough go. There are constantly new runway shows, ad campaigns, and magazine issues, but only a select few models break through and really make it big. For these top models, the sky is the limit. From major endorsement deals to TV shows, best-selling books, and more, the ladies on this list use their influence to become true icons. Their careers are perfect examples of how to seize opportunities and think creatively to achieve the most possible success.
All of these world-famous models go about their image and career in different ways. Some love using Twitter and Instagram to connect with their fans, while others aren’t afraid to share TMI personal deets that some people might be embarrassed by. In this age of social media, it’s all about personality — and these top models have really figured it all out.
16. Karlie Kloss
Karlie Kloss started out as a pretty, tall girl from St. Louis, but she quickly became one of the biggest names in fashion of the early 2010s. After dominating couture runways and magazine covers, Karlie has since transformed herself into a business titan. She’s passionate about getting girls interested in coding, and has also been on the cover of Forbes magazine. She’s a brand ambassador for Adidas, and she still models basically whenever she feels like it. Karlie is also part of Taylor Swift’s iconic “squad,” though there have been rumors of a feud in recent months.
15. Chrissy Teigen
We can’t lie, we’re more than a little jealous of Chrissy Teigen. She’s gorgeous, absolutely hilarious, and has one of the cutest relationships in Hollywood. Seriously, John Legend is so lucky. Chrissy was once best known as a swimsuit model, appearing on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, but now she’s known as a genuinely awesome person who connects with her fans all the time on social media. In addition to having 15 million Instagram followers, she’s also a best-selling cookbook author and the cohost of Lip Sync Battle. And did we mention she’s hilarious? Because her Twitter is amazing.
14. Kate Upton
Much like Chrissy Teigen, Kate Upton got her start as a swimsuit model before moving on to bigger things. She’s been the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover model three times, in addition to being featured on the 100th anniversary cover of Vanity Fair. Kate has also dabbled in acting, appearing in several movies including the underrated rom-com The Other Woman. Kate recently married pro baseball star Justin Verlander, and their wedding was just as beautiful as you’d imagine. How is she only 25?
13. Cara Delevingne
Cara Delevingne is a multitalented style chameleon who really makes things exciting. She rose to prominence as a high fashion model, but always had an edgy personality that shone through. She’s transitioned effortlessly to film, starring in Paper Towns and Suicide Squad, among others. If the modeling and acting weren’t enough, she has a great singing voice, which we’ll hopefully get to hear more of as she continues to branch out in the entertainment industry. Bonus points for looking awesome with a buzzcut, because most people don’t.
12. Tyra Banks
Tyra Banks is great as a model, but she was truly meant to be on TV. Since her start as one of the OG Victoria’s Secret models, Tyra has become a media mogul. We all love America’s Next Top Model, which has been on since 2003, and although Tyra took a brief hiatus for one season, she recently returned to host the show again. But don’t forget that Tyra also had a successful talk show for five years, dealing with a wide range of topics including racism, homophobia, and general family drama. She’s also the current host of America’s Got Talent, where she turns out glamorous looks week after week. Tyra’s got a lot on her plate, but she makes it look oh-so-easy.
11. Heidi Klum
German-born Heidi Klum became a Victoria’s Secret Angel in 1999, and she didn’t hang up her wings for good until 2010. Like Tyra Banks, Heidi has become a force in the television industry, hosting the German version of Top Model and, of course, Project Runway. She’s been nominated for over a dozen Emmys for Project Runway, winning one in 2013 for her hosting duties. Since 2013, she’s also been a judge on America’s Got Talent, so we have a feeling she and Tyra Banks probably still get along. Our life goal is basically to be as good at one thing as Heidi is at everything.
10. Emily Ratajkowski
Emily Ratajkowski’s rise to fame is truly impressive. She was relatively unknown until 2013, when she got cast as a topless model in the music video for a little (problematic) song called “Blurred Lines.” Robin Thicke’s video caused a lot of controversy for its alleged sexism, but Emily’s career completely skyrocketed. She has since appeared in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue twice, in addition to numerous other major modeling gigs. In addition to modeling, Emily has made the jump to acting, appearing in Gone Girl and Entourage.
9. Naomi Campbell
Before there was Gigi, or Karlie, or Bella, it was all about Naomi Campbell. This British beauty led the pack of ultra-famous supermodels of the 1990s, and she hasn’t gone anywhere in the 21st century. Naomi hasn’t aged a day, and her modeling career is still completely enviable, but that’s not all. She’s an actress too, with recurring roles on Empire and Star exposing a whole new generation to her gloriousness. Naomi also has a legendary feud with Tyra Banks, but we can save that for another time.
8. Hailey Baldwin
Like many of the younger crop of top models, Hailey Baldwin comes from a famous family. Her uncle is actor Alec Baldwin, but Hailey went for modeling instead of acting. It paid off. She’s walked in runway shows for many of the top fashion brands, and been featured in multiple international editions of Vogue. In terms of fame, her brief relationship with Justin Bieber certainly didn’t hurt, either. Hailey has become a major new face in the fashion industry, and we have a feeling we’re going to be seeing a lot more of her in years to come.
7. Gisele Bündchen
Another one of the old school Victoria’s Secret models, Gisele Bündchen just doesn’t go away. She’s consistently been one of the world’s highest-paid models for well over a decade, and she looks as young and beautiful as the day we first heard about her. She married New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in 2009, and they’re probably one of the most idolized couples in the world. If you’re not sure how big of a deal Gisele is, the Olympic opening ceremony in Rio had a whole segment dedicated to her, where she walked across the entire stadium alone. That’s major.
6. Sofia Richie
Sofia Richie may be the younger half-sister of Nicole Richie, but that hasn’t stopped her from making a name for herself. She’s just 19 years old, but she’s already been featured in ad campaigns for Adidas, Dolce & Gabbana, and Chanel. Sofia made tons of headlines last year when she started dating Scott Disick, who has developed a strange interest in younger women. They seem to be happy together, which is really all that matters. This beauty is so young, and we’re excited to see where her promising career takes her in the future.
5. Gigi Hadid
Not only is Gigi Hadid the daughter of a model, but she’s also descended from actual royalty on her father’s side. She shot to stardom after beginning her modeling career in 2013, quickly becoming one of the biggest personalities on social media, in addition to countless runway shows and print campaigns. With major collaborations with Tommy Hilfiger, Vogue Eyewear, and Maybelline all happening currently, you could say she’s kind of a big deal. She’s also been dating ex-One Direction member Zayn Malik for over two years, and everyone loves a power couple. Gigi has been unstoppable the last few years, and it doesn’t look like she’s slowing down anytime soon.
4. Bella Hadid
We couldn’t talk about Gigi without mentioning Bella Hadid, her younger (but just as famous) sister. She’s conquered the fashion world just as thoroughly as her sister, with campaigns for Nike, Dior, and Marc Jacobs under her belt, just to name a few. She’s also made her own romantic headlines, due to her on-again, off-again relationship with The Weeknd (currently off). Bella and her sister are both pals with Kendall and Kylie Jenner, and their mom Yolanda Hadid spent four seasons on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. This is a family with amazing genes and an amazing marketing team.
3. Miranda Kerr
Aussie bombshell Miranda Kerr captured everyone’s hearts as a Victoria’s Secret Angel, and we’re still obsessed with her. Her marriage to Orlando Bloom didn’t work out, but she’s now remarried to Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel, who happens to be the world’s youngest billionaire. In addition to writing a self-help book, Miranda has her own skincare line, which makes sense because her skin is so flawless it makes us angry. She just seems like one of the most genuine, approachable models, and in a business where you’re trying to sell things, that makes a difference.
2. Kendall Jenner
Kendall Jenner is a unique case. Sure, she may have had some help from her famous family and Keeping Up With The Kardashians, but having a reality show doesn’t get you booked for every top runway show in Paris and Milan. Kendall’s modeling has given her something to stand out from her crowded family, and she’s immensely popular because of it. Kylie Jenner has her lip kits, Kendall Jenner has her catwalks. Sorry everyone, but you’ll probably never have 86 million followers on Instagram.
1. Rosie Huntington Whiteley
Best known for her time as a Victoria’s Secret Angel, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley has done it all. She’s had her own lingerie line. She’s been in major blockbuster movies like Mad Max: Fury Road. She’s been voted the hottest woman in the world. She’s engaged to Jason Statham. This British beauty might not be as viral as a Jenner or a Hadid, but a successful business woman who has a clear brand. I don’t think there’s anyone who wouldn’t want to be a little more like Rosie.