If you were a child of the '80s and '90s, it's understood that the names Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington are synonymous with high glamour and desire. Even if you don't know the names, chances are you've seen their image blasted across the side of a building or a bus, or held their gaze in black-and-white while one of them walks across a sandy beach. So much of 'The Super Models' is devoted to underlining just how huge and famous they were, how exciting and glamorous their lives were, and how much of an impact they all had.
'The Super Models' doesn't delve so much into the dark side of the fashion industry, and the unhealthy beauty standards that they helped to engender, but it does at least acknowledge it. Christy Turlington, for example, discusses how she went on a solo trip to Japan early in her career and was asked to pose nude. She refused, point blank. Cindy Crawford talked about her facial mark and how it was airbrushed out of one of her first covers of Vogue. Naomi Campbell talks about how she was frequently excluded from lucrative campaigns because she was black. Yet, in between these are anecdotes about the fabulous, glamorous lives they lived and how undeniably cool and intriguing it all was. Naomi Campbell casually recalls working out the deal for her and her friends to star in the music video for George Michael's 'Freedom '90' in the middle of a desperately fashionable London nightclub.
Beyond that, however, 'The Super Models' doesn't offer any real insight or new perspective on the nature of their celebrity or how they've all dealt with it over the years. The questions and the answers by them all, such as they are, are much like themselves - impeccably finished and revealing only what they want. For women who have spent their lives in front of cameras and know exactly how to work them and what to show, it's not at all surprising that their answers and the documentary about them are just as coordinated and elegant. We do get a sense of each of them, how distinct they are, their notions of sisterhood and solidarity, and how they all have different perspectives on their careers and their lives in the limelight.
'The Super Models' is glossy, and beautiful, and the archival footage and the runway videos all ache with the effortless cool of the decades past. When it shifts to the interviews in the here and now, you can instantly see how and why they were so dominant in the industry. Their intelligence and their wit is never in doubt, but it seems as though 'The Super Models' never quite goes as deep as you'd hope and keeps the audience at a distinct remove. Maybe that's the point, of course. We live now in a world where social media and the constant churn of content have no sense of curation or styling, instead turning trends over in a matter of seconds. In 'The Super Models', we have an enjoyably decadent strut down memory lane.