Next Generation Supermodels
Photographed by Elizabeth Robinson of Cheveney Koski, Melanie Do, Isabelle DeMers
Styled by Melanie Do
Directed by Melanie Do
Hair and Makeup by Isabelle DeMers
Photography Assist: Arylon Wilks
By Jaedyn Merimee and Lily Howland
As the original ‘Big 5’ supermodels begin to leave the runway, and more fresh faces appear in the industry, it is vital to recognize who we think will take those spots as the next ‘Big 5’ supermodels. The fashion industry is one that is ever-changing, and with these changes, the faces of the industry must evolve accordingly. In our opinion, here are the next ‘Big 5’ supermodels of our generation:
From Sudanese refugee to one of fashion’s most sought-after models, Anok Yai has been proving naysayers wrong for all 25 years she has been alive. From becoming the first black model after Naomi Campbell to open a Prada show at Milan Fashion Week, just 4 months after being discovered to being featured on the cover of W’s 50th anniversary issue last year. Yai’s list of accomplishments certainly sets her apart and earns her most-established first place on our list of up-and-coming next generation supermodels. Yai was discovered at Howard University’s homecoming after a photograph of her went viral just 6 years ago and since then has walked for numerous top fashion houses like Valentino, Versace, Burberry, Chanel, Givenchy, Tom Ford, Dior and many more. She has also been nominated for Model of the Year by Models.com consecutively for the last 4 years. With a large following on social media and magazines like Vogue referring to her as one of the most expensive and best dressed supermodels, Yai is certainly nowhere near her peak success. As she herself affirms, “The journey of truly finding yourself is life-long. I do not believe there is an arrival; just the slow inching towards spiritual fulfillment.”
One of the most well-known supermodels, Bella Hadid is rising to the title of one of the next generation’s ‘Big Five.’ With her super chic style and effortless catwalk, Hadid was named “Model of the Year” in 2022 from both the industry polls and readers’ choice, based on Models.com. Before that, Hadid had won the industry’s "Model of the Year" in 2016 and readers’ choice in 2017. By the time Hadid was 16, she made her debut at New York Fashion Week in the Autumn of 2014, and her career has taken off since. Hadid is an American model who is now one of the highest-paid supermodels in the world, according to Wion News. Following in the footsteps of her mother, Yolanda Hadid, Bella Hadid is amongst a family of supermodels. She has walked in multiple fashion shows, including Victoria's Secret, was the face for Dior cosmetics, and made a debut in acting for Hulu’s series ‘Ramy.’ After undergoing intensive treatment for her battle with Lyme disease, Hadid mentions on TikTok that she is back modeling, captioning it “First day on set in 5 months!” Bella Hadid has made a big name for herself, and excitement rises for what this hit supermodel will pull out of that gorgeous sleeve of hers next.
Earning herself a bronze medal on our podium for the “Next Top 5” is Precious Lee, one of few black curve models to work with longstanding fashion houses. As an advocate for race and size diversity, Lee has been working hard to encourage and promote positive change in the fashion industry since she began modeling at age 18 in 2007. After making her runway debut 10 years later walking for Christian Siriano, Lee’s career has taken off quickly with her working with brans like Versace, Miu Miu and Marc Jacobs. This summer she was named the new face of Savage x Fenty and affirms, “taking ownership of your body is hot,” a bold and fierce reminder we all should take into consideration. For the past two years, Lee has been nominated for Model of the Year by Models.com, which proves she is not going anywhere anytime soon. Without a doubt, she earns a spot on our podium as Precious Lee really does live up to her name, defying stereotypes and tradition with grace.
With a style so hot it will melt your eyes; this supermodel balances a variety of talents. Starting with dancing on the stage to walking the runways to now acting on set, Alton Mason is an American model who holds the male model standard high. Mason has been named the industry’s model of the year for 4 consecutive years and is in the running for a 5th. He has gone on to make history by being the first black male model to walk for Chanel in the 2018 Métiers d’art show. Mason was first discovered on Instagram in 2015. “I thought it was a joke,” he told WMagazine. Since then, his first big show was for Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 2 collection at New York Fashion Week, and his first big acting debut was in 2022 Baz Luhrmann’s film Elvis, playing Little Richard. What is next for this supermodel and actor? Well, besides turning the heads of his audiences, he plans to turn his own in the direction from influencing eyes to ears. “Music is next,” Mason tells Grazia. “I truly admire the career of Naomi Campbell and Grace Jones.”
Our next place belongs to the breathtaking and talented South Korean model, Sora Choi. Currently listed as one of the Industry Icons on Models.com for the past two years, the 31-year-old is certainly established in the fashion world. This idol won Season 3 of Korea’s Next Top Model and has not turned back since. Paving the way for future models, Choi was the first Asian model to walk for Saint Laurent in 2016. Three short years later, Choi walk the most shows of any model that year when she walked 89 shows in the 2019 season. This repertoire included Prada, Gucci, Miu Miu, Chanel, Hermès, Dior, Celine, Burberry, and Balenciaga. Choi is not singularly involved either. Besides her impressive experience in runway walks during top fashion weeks, she has been featured in more than 90 international campaigns. In 2023, the sky is the limit for Choi as her spunk, beauty, and energy are far from ceasing.
Rianne Van Rompaey
With fiery locks, piercing blue eyes and a freckled complexion, Rianne Van Rompaey ignites the runways with her blazing beauty. Labeled a top model by Vogue, This Amsterdam-based supermodel was scouted at age 19. Rompaey told Vogue France she was hand-selected in a casting call by Nicolas Ghesquière for his Louis Vuitton Autumn/Winter 2014 collection in Paris. Since her first big debut, Rompaey has continued to walk her way up toward shows for Versace, Chanel, Alexander McQueen, Fendi, Miu Miu, Saint Laurent, Valentino, Givenchy, Chloé, and more. “I think at this moment uniqueness and personality is what the fashion industry is most inspired by,” Rompaey said in an interview with VMagazine. “It’s starting to get more inclusive now which creates a very powerful group of women all over the world.”
Named Breakout Star by the Industry’s Vote in 2019 for Models.com, Mona Tougaard is certainly on the rise. Having only 21 years under her belt, there is no telling how far Tougaard will go, what standards she will set, and what legacy she will leave. The Turkish and Danish model is objectively limitless in her talents and her drive. In just two seasons, at age 27, she opened for Loewe and Fendi, also walking for Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Chloé and more. For the past three years in a row, she has been another model on our list nominated for Model of the Year. She also is one of the only models on our list currently ranked in the Top 50 models by Models.com. To summarize her intentions well, Tougaard advised others in an interview with i-D, “Be yourself. That’s all I got.”
The popular Amelia Gray is certainly a fan favorite on our list. Being the daughter of actor Harry Hamlin, Gray has never known a day outside of the spotlight. The now 22-year-old has made a reputation for herself with traits and experiences ranging from her 1.5 million Instagram followers to her public relationship with reality star Scott Disick. In the modeling world, Gray is in the public eye and is a supermodel in the making. She walked her first runway show at age 18 and since then has walked for brands like Diesel, Vivienne Westwood, and Jean Paul Gaultier. She has also appeared in advertisements for Savage x Fenty and Levi’s, planting herself in both commercial and editorial spaces in the fashion world. This past year she was a Breakout Star Nominee for Models.com securing herself on the radar of magazines and fashion houses alike. In September 2023, she was featured topless on one of the covers of Harper’s Bazaar and opened up about her experience in eating disorder recovery, a topic that surely needs to be discussed more often when conversations about beauty and fashion arise. Passion toward this topic stands out, and Gray is sure to leave a positive impact on the industry no matter where she ends up.
There is no time like the present for this do-it-all beauty, while Shazam not only takes on the fashion runways with her immensely unique style but applies talents in more ways than one. As a nonbinary, feminine presenting fashion model, Shazam has taken the fashion industry a whole new step with her powerful influence. Shazam, a “multi-hyphenated woman,” expands her working title to not only an influential American fashion model but also a photographer, actor, director, and artist. Talk about a Shazam! Scouted in Berlin in 2017, Shazam made her runway debut for Vivienne Westwood's Fall 2018 collection at New York Fashion Week. Not only has she walked for New York and London Fashion Weeks and been the face of multiple brands, but Shazam has shot for Interview Magazine and Thom Browne and had photography featured in Vogue. She has also created a self-presentation photobook titled “Shazam,” co-hosted the series Shine True with Lucas Silveria, and performed in Zuecca Project Space. “I have to ask myself what am I bringing to that space?” Shazam said in an interview with Vogue. “My purpose is to be a good storyteller.”
Intense, bold and daring are just a few words in mind when describing Leon Dame as he dominates the fashion runways with his up-and-coming walks. This Berlin-based fashion model awoke the internet when he closed Maison Margiela’s Spring/ Summer 2020 collection at Paris Fashion Week. In a hunch-like posture, Dame strutted the runway with a stomping stride, staring intensely down his path. “I’m really interested in theatre,” Dame said in an interview with British Vogue. “I’m pretty open to a lot of things, which makes me enjoy fashion and making new experiences within it.” Dame was discovered while waiting for a bus on his way home. Since then, he has walked through many shows, starting with his first big show opening for the Sacai Spring/ Summer 2016 collection. It's safe to say that with the way Dame moves, his catwalks certainly get the audience's tongues.