Modeling isn’t just about walking down a runway anymore. In today’s world, models are able to earn money through sponsorships, social media, endorsements, and public appearances. Not to mention, many models also devote their time and money into developing product lines for things like makeup, fragrances, and apparel. Modeling is a highly profitable field, if you play your cards right. So, who are the highest paid models in the world? In this article, I’ll list the top ten highest paid models in 2016.
Top 10 Highest Paid Models in 2018 – Richest Models
#10 – Candice Swanepoel ($5 Million)
Candice Swanepoel is a 27-year-old woman born out of Mooi River, South Africa. The natural blonde has an extensive acting portfolio, having done covers for Vogue, Elle, Lush, GQ, and many more. Swanepoel has also walked the runway for a huge amount of different clothing designers, from Victoria’s Secret to Chanel. Although she has been modeling for several years now, she caught her “big break” in 2010 when she was made a Victoria’s Secret Angel. In 2013, she served as the cover model for Victoria’s Secret Swim Catalogue, which is a very high honor. In 2014, Swanepoel placed #1 on Maxim’s Hot 100 List. Her popularity has only grown since then, and she has the money to prove it.
#9 – Alessandra Ambrosio ($5 Million)
Alessandra Ambrosio was born in Erechim, Brazil in 1981. Her parents were of Italian and Polish ancestry, and she was raised in a fairly modest upbringing. Ambrosio enrolled in modeling classes when she just 12 years old, and by the time she turned 15, she began modeling for Dilson Stein. Her first major gig was a cover job for Brazil’s Elle. Since then, she has appeared on covers for Cosmopolitan, GQ, Vogue, among others. Ambrosio doesn’t just model, either. In 2004, she released a line of swimwear called Alessandra Ambrosio by Sais, which proved to be a highly profitable pursuit for the woman. Not only that, but she has made appearances on television shows like New Girl and Entourage. In today’s world, models have the luxury of being able to have highly diversified portfolios, and Ambrosio has taken advantage of that.
#8 – Lara Stone ($5 Million)
Lara Stone is a Dutch model whose career started early. When she was 12 years old, she was discovered in the Paris Metro, which eventually led to her being signed by Elite Modeling Agency. She developed a bit of a professional portfolio during her time with the agency, but her career really didn’t take off until she signed with IMG Models in 2006. From there, a lot happened for the young woman very quickly. In April of 2007, she scored the cover of Vogue Paris. At the time, she turned a lot of heads by being a somewhat unconventional model. Stone has a prominent gap between her front teeth and a Lurch walk, which was seen as endearing and authentic. Today, she continues to grace the cover of various fashion publications and serves as an inspiration for aspiring models.
#7 – Joan Smalls ($5.5 Million)
Joan Smalls is somewhat new to the modeling world, but she has established herself as one of the most promising young women in her field. Smalls was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She studied psychology at Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, graduating magna cum laude. After she graduated, she decided to move to New York City to begin a career as a model. In 2009, she signed with IMG Models, which led to her being signed as a Givenchy exclusive for Ricardo Tisci’s Spring/Summer Haute Coutore show in 2010. Since then, she has modeled collections for Gucci, Prada, Marc Jacobs, and many more. To this day, she serves as one of the first Puerto Rican models to head advertising campaigns for places like Gap and Ralph Lauren. Smalls is thought to be one of her generation’s most prominent supermodels.
#6 – Miranda Kerr ($5.5 Million)
Miranda Kerr was raised in a very humbling household. She was born in Sydney, Australia, and raised in Gunnedah, New South Wales. She grew up on the Australian countryside, which she cites as one of the most formative experiences of her life. When Kerr was just 14 years old, she had won a major photo shoot with Dolly magazine. (This was a bit of a controversial win at the time, with many people saying that it was inappropriate for an underage girl to be so glorified in the fashion industry.) Kerr has gone on to walk the runway for places like Neinam Marcus and Levi’s. She has also been featured in music videos alongside artists like Kanye West and Beyonce. Not only that, but the young woman also fancies herself to be a bit of an entrepreneur, having launched her own brand of organic skincare products in 2009.
#5 – Natalia Vodianova ($7 Million)
Everyone loves an underdog story, and Natalia Vodianova possesses perhaps one of the most compelling underdog stories I’ve ever seen. Raised in the Soviet Union, Vodianova’s father walked out on her family when she was just a toddler. As a teenager, she helped her mother sell fruit on the side of the street to keep her family from falling into poverty. When she turned 15, she enrolled in a modelling agency. When she was 17, she moved to Paris and signed with Viva Models. Today, Vodianova holds the honor of having graced the cover of every major international magazine. In December of 2015, she was recorded as having appeared in 70 International Vogue covers. Seeing as she was raised in poverty, it’s no surprise that Vodianova is also such an active philanthropist. She is the founder of Naked Heart Foundation, which looks to help support families raising children with disabilities.
#4 – Doutzen Kroes ($7.5 Million)
Doutzen Kroes had never even heard of Victoria’s Secret when she first moved to New York. The Dutch girl thought of herself as somewhat of a tomboy, and she didn’t really grow up thinking that she would become a model. However, the fashion industry embraced Kroes whole-heartedly, whether she liked it or not. In 2005, she was featured on the cover of Vogue Italia. In 2008, she became an Angel for Victoria’s Secret. Kroes had a fantastic year in 2013, appearing on a total of 9 Vogue covers in that one year alone. This drastic increase in visibility resulted in her seeing an explosion of popularity (in 2014, she was the second highest paid model in the world), which she has been able to effectively sustain over the course of the last couple of years. Although she may have never envisioned herself to have been a supermodel, Doutzen Kroes has certainly reached that status today.
#3 – Adriana Lima ($9 Million)
You may have noticed that there are quite a few Victoria’s Secret Angels on this list. It’s true– being an Angel is something of a rite of passage for any majorly successful model. Adriana Lima currently holds the honor of being Victoria’s Secret longest running model, having been an Angel since 2000. The Brazilian was also a spokesmodel for Maybelline between the years 2003 and 2010. Lima’s extensive portfolio also includes work with fashion brands like Versace, H&M, and Prada. She earned the bulk of her paycheck this year by becoming the face of Vogue Eyewear and of Marc Jacobs’s Decadence fragrance. It’s easy for any kind of celebrities to be a flash in the pan, but Lima owes her impressive career to her persistence, and to her loyalty to certain brands.
#2 – Cara Delevingne ($9 Million)
Cara Delevingne is, by far, the youngest model on this list. Born in London in 1992, this 23 year old woman has taken the world by storm in recent years. Delevingne struggled immensely with depression and anxiety as a teenager, and she thought of drama as a source of escape. Her first catwalk appearance was in 2011, during London Fashion Week. She continued (and was highly praised for) her work as a runway model for the next couple of years. In 2013, however, she began to model less frequently as she began to shift focus onto her acting career. I think that Delevingne’s hefty salary this year can be attributed to this shift. She co-starred alongside Nat Wolff in Paper Towns in 2015, which was a hit at the box office. Not only that, but later this year she will appear as Enchantress in the highly-anticipated Suicide Squad comic book movie.
#1 – Gisele Bundchen ($44 Million)
No, that isn’t a typo. The difference between #1 and #2 on this list is $35 million. To put it very simply, Gisele Bundchen has completely dominated the fashion industry since the early 2000s. Making her modeling debut in the late 1990s, Bundchen was one of the first Brazilian models to become successful. In 1996, she caught her first big break by appearing in New York Fashion Week. In 2000, she signed a record-breaking contract with Victoria’s Secret. In that same year, she wore the most expensive Victoria’s Secret Fantasy bra of all time. The key to Gisele’s astronomical success was that, during the peak of her career, she leveraged every opportunity available to her. She had roles in films like Taxi and The Devil Wears Prada. She appeared on magazine covers, she walked the runway, she was the face of various advertising campaigns, and so on. By 2009, she was regarded as one of the greatest stars in fashion history. Today, she is still very highly-regarded. She doesn’t really walk the runway anymore, but she is still a very prominent figure in international pop culture.