90’s supermodel Susan Holmes McKagan reflects on her career highlights

Largely out of a model’s control is which photographs of them see the light of day. Someone else decides how a model looks best, about what is worthy of covers and campaigns and portfolios. So out of the thousands taken of them throughout their careers, which photos do the models actually like? We want to know about the shots that are meaningful to them, the life-changing and career-defining ones. Below Susan Holmes McKagan–90’s bombshell supermodel married to rock royalty–gives us the lowdown on the images with a special place in her heart.

Image photographed by Steven Meisel, courtesy Susan Holmes McKagan/Iconic Focus

Vogue Italia, July 1991
Photographed by Steven Meisel. Fashion by Paul Cavaco. Hair by Rolando Beauchamp. Makeup by Joe McDevitt.

This is one of my most cherished VOGUE covers to date! The Genius (aka Steven Meisel) shot this at the Industria Superstudios in NYC. I loved that he allowed me to express my own personality and how tremendously timeless to this day I think the cover looks! I remember how kind he was to me as a newbie model from Paris. Steven and I shared our love–and I think you can feel this in this cover and the series–of all things music. C+C Music Factory was on repeat here when we were shooting this one. We also both love vintage 60’s fashion and can you feel the Audrey Hepburn inspo here. I remember how immensely sore my body was from holding that precise pose the next day… but of course, it was so exorbitantly beyond worth it! Steven is hands down one of my all-time faves EVER to work with! The man is a legend!

 

Image photographed by Gilles Bensimon, courtesy Susan Holmes McKagan/Iconic Focus

Elle, March 1993
Photographed by Gilles Bensimon. Styling by Todd Oldham. Hair by David Cox. Makeup by Fran Cooper.

This is one I get tagged in over and over again on Instagram. In fact, a few young fans sent me pictures of them dressed up as Tyra and I in these iconic 90’s Todd Oldham outfits as their Halloween costumes. I’ve heard people say that you haven’t made it until people start dressing up as you for Halloween, so there’s that for the fashion history books. I am blessed to have a great relationship with Tyra still to this day. I always love how I get to meet and build incredible friendships from fashion shoots.

 

Image photographed by Sante D’Orazio, courtesy Susan Holmes McKagan/Iconic Focus

Vogue Espana, June 1991
Photographed by Sante D’orazio.

This was my very first VOGUE cover! I remember shooting this on location in beautiful Zihuatanejo, Mexico with Sante, Orlando Pita, Sciascia Gambaccini, and Fabien Baron–who went on to redesign the new US Harper’s Bazaar [under Liz Tilberis] soon after this. It was such an iconic team, to say the least!

 

Image photographed by Arthur Elgort, courtesy Susan Holmes McKagan/Iconic Focus

Arthur Elgort: I Love…

I’ll never forget going over to Arthur’s studio recently for lunch with my daughter Mae to visit him and the team. Arthur was telling me how much he liked my book The Velvet Rose and the book’s cover (taken of me by my dear friend Stephen Sprouse at his apartment in NYC). During the lunch, I mentioned to Arthur how much I adored all of his incredible books, from Models Manuel to Camera Ready to The Big Picture. I also asked him if he would be doing another book anytime soon, to which he replied, “I have a new book coming out in the fall. The last books had the amazing Christy Turlington and Kate Moss on the covers… this time–” and he asks his assistant to bring him a copy of his new tome, “–this time you’re on the cover.” Wow! He has shot so many of the most legendary models ever (from Gia to Linda and Naomi, to of course Kate and Christy) that I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing. I am so honored to say the least, as Arthur to me exudes an iconic photographer who captures the natural movement/beauty and aesthetic of his models like no one else. He is the ultimate gentleman and honestly makes me laugh constantly while I’m around him to boot.

 

Image photographed by Brian B. Hayes, courtesy Susan Holmes McKagan/Iconic Focus

Cosmopolitan Romania, 2020
Photographed by Brian B. Hayes

I love this brand new 2020 Cosmopolitan Cover. I worked out and prepped for this shoot like an athlete going into the Olympics. I feel extremely proud that I am still gracing covers from my Shape Magazine to L’Officiel to Maxim magazine covers all within the last 16 months! Not bad for someone who has been in the modeling industry for nearly three decades. I think now more than ever it is especially significant and inspiring (and also since I am a mother) to demonstrate beauty at every age.

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