On my list of questions to ask Claudia Schiffer
was: “Do blondes have more fun?” But there was no need to ask it, really. The answer, in this case, was glaringly obvious. The German beauty greeted me in a smoke-color ruffled-yoke sweater and skirt of her own design and vertiginous Claudia Schiffer for Aquazzura heels. Her jewelry, much of it by Missoma, was layered and personal. A bracelet with clouds, for instance, referenced her nickname since childhood, Cloudy (a play on the German pronunciation of her name). On the table in front of her were items from her new makeup line (which is featured, along with a Claudia beauty bot, in the new Kingsman
movie), her just-launched Barbie (wearing a gold mesh dress like the one she closed Versace’s Spring show in), and copies of her new book, Claudia Schiffer
, released on the occasion of her 30th anniversary in fashion. Clearly, this woman has the Midas touch.
The focus of Schiffer’s book is what might, to borrow from Aqua, be called her “Barbie world,” and includes many of her shoots for Vogue (Schiffer has been a cover girl for the magazine a whopping 16 times). But “it’s more than just the favorite pictures,” Schiffer explains. “Every picture has something with a wink.” When asked if she approaches modeling the same way, she enthusiastically agrees: “That is completely right!” She might describe herself as shy, but this entrepreneurial model took the bubbly, over-the-top baby-Bardot role in which she was so often cast, and ran with it.
Schiffer is still on the move, and credits her success to hard work, drive, and a selective approach. “I’m a quite logical and realistic person,” she says, “and over the years I’ve learned that these moments in fashion are amazing but they are short and they’re not real life. Many Years Ago
, I made the decision that I’m very happy with what I have—I’m very lucky—so I only want to work with companies and products I love. . . and [on projects that are] special. . . . I sort of dip my toes in and out [of fashion].” Thirty years on, Schiffer still makes a splash wherever she goes.
Here, she gives Vogue the scoop on the scene backstage at Versace, explains the “Schiffer smile,” and shares her thoughts on supermodeldom.
What really went down at Versace Spring 2018
“I did my last show 15 years ago for Yves Saint Laurent—his farewell show in Paris. [At the time I thought], This is the last time, now on to the new generation, I’m never going to do this again
When we arrived at Versace, it was such an amazing welcome because Donatella had little cubicles for all of us set up with our own makeup and hair teams, bathrobes made with our names on them—it was just really special. Everyone got quite emotional backstage and we got quite nervous as well, because we were reliving sort of a moment in time; we’d been there before, but it had been a long time ago.”
Then versus now
“Basically, the supermodels always had something they wanted to say about anything and everything: ‘No, I don’t want to wear that. Can I wear another dress? I don’t want to wear these shoes, don’t want to be in this position. Am I the first one out at the fashion show? Am I wearing the wedding dress? Why not?’ We were always very involved; I’m sure the designers and photographers would have preferred we say nothing, but we wanted to have a say in everything, and I think that’s why we all learned quite a lot.
I think what’s really different nowadays is the much faster pace. It makes it more difficult; I’ve read some interviews where models are described as ‘supermodel of the moment.’ You have to work so much harder, I think, in comparison.”
About those group covers
“This is where the sort of competition met camaraderie. Who was going to get the best position? The best or most visible angle? But it’s also where bonds were created. At a young age we were experiencing all of these incredible things together.”
To BB or not to be?
“In the beginning, I wanted to establish who I was, not be compared to other people. A few years after that I suddenly realized it’s extremely flattering that someone is comparing you to someone who is so beautiful and well-known and successful. I didn’t really realize [the likeness]; it was Ellen von Unwerth who said, ‘Well, you look like [Bardot].’ She’d tell Eva Herzigova, ‘You look like Marilyn Monroe,’ and Linda, ‘You are Sophia Loren.’ Everyone was someone in the role-play that she loved to do. It was always about a story and a person that you’d recognize. It made the pictures quite retro and special, and they stood out.”
On ’90s nostalgia
“You suddenly see lots of similarities, designers getting inspired by [that tim