This post may contain affiliate links that grant me a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Cindy Crawford's book 'Becoming' features iconic images from the supermodel's career - and some life lessons she's learned along the way.
I love thrifting coffee table books with glossy pages for Roseglass Collective. I like to imagine where I'm going to put them when we have an official Roseglass office someday. A girl can dream! For now, they sit in my home office...
The other day I was at one of my favorite small thrift shops in my hometown when I spotted something that caught my eye. I picked it up and to my surprise the cover had 90s supermodel icon Cindy Crawford in a gorgeous black and white photo. The book was a good size and seemed to be brand new. I flipped through the pages and they were glossy and covered with Cindy Crawford photos. Score! I actually set it down so I could explore the rest of the store. Plus, I've been trying to be better lately when it comes to thrifting: I try to always ask myself if I absolutely need something before buying...
Anyways, I accidentally left the store without buying it but something told me to run back in and buy it. I mean, it was only $1! I happily took the book home and forgot about it for a week or two.
Fast forward to yesterday when I sat down to read it. It's sort of like an anthology of Cindy's career as a model, but also includes some personal biographical points as well. All the better - it's a condensed biography with lots of pictures! I flipped the book open to the first page and was shocked to discover - the book is signed by Cindy Crawford herself. So cool!
One of the many reasons I love thrifting, what an unexpected treasure.
I learned a lot from this book and I can't wait for it to live on the Roseglass Collective coffee table someday...
Today we'll discuss some of the things that I learned from Cindy Crawford's book 'Becoming'.
'Becoming' was published on September 29, 2015. At the time, Cindy was almost 50 years old. She co-wrote the book with Katherine O'Leary.
The book is about Cindy Crawford's life and career as a supermodel in the 90s. It features many photographs from her time as a model and does discuss some of her childhood and personal life. The book is less of a detailed autobiography and more of a series of photos with stories, including her experiences with several iconic photographers of the 90s. It does give a good overview of her life though and her thoughts on different things like the modeling industry, fitness, and other moments from her career. I would say if you want to know more about Cindy Crawford's experiences, it's a great read, but if you already know a lot about her and are looking for details, it may be a little too vague for you.
I really enjoyed reading it and I really did learn a lot about Cindy from the book! I personally didn't know much about her and hadn't seen many of the photos in the book, but if you were an adult in the 90s, one reviewer mentioned the book featured a lot of iconic photographs that were already pretty mainstream.
You can buy a copy on Amazon! The book retails for $50 and it's always on sale. It would make a great gift for someone born in the 90s or anybody that's a fan of fashion, modeling, or Cindy Crawford herself.
"Easy & fun read that literally details how Cindy Crawford became THE Cindy Crawford, who is one of the most iconic models of our generation. It was a fast moving & informative book that showed how her journey into supermodel stardom began & has continued to this day. So cool!"
Cindy Crawford grew up in DeKalb, Illinois. She was the second oldest of 3 girls and a baby boy. Her brother Jeff was diagnosed with leukemia and died when Cindy was 10. Her parents divorced 4 years later. Her and her sisters believed that they should have been the ones to pass away since Jeff was the only boy in the family.
Cindy got all A's throughout school and was valedictorian of her class. She got a full ride scholarship to Northwestern and was set to attend school to become a chemical engineer. She dropped out after the first semester since she was trying to juggle school and modeling. She figured she could always come back to school but wouldn't be able to come back to modeling.
Although there were reports that Cindy was discovered in an Illinois corn field, Cindy explains it's not quite true. Kids (including Cindy) would work in the corn fields in the summer to make a little extra cash for school, but she was never discovered there. During her sophomore year of high school she received a call asking her to be a model at a local clothing store in town. When Cindy arrived, she met a confused store owner and saw some "friends" laughing outside. She realized it was a cruel prank.
The next year, a different clothing store was looking for ambassadors for their shop. Cindy liked the 20% discount and joined. They ended up doing a fashion show that was covered in the local newspaper. A local photographer named Roger Legel then contacted her and asked to take her photo for the Northern Illinois University paper. Although her parents were skeptical, they discovered he was legitimate and the photo ended up being Cindy's first cover. Roger then connected her with a hair and makeup artist who encouraged her to attend the Midwest Beauty Show in Chicago. There, she was selected to be a model for the show. She was then paired up with a hairdresser from New York named Carmine Minardi. He gave her the numbers of agents in New York.
At the first meeting in New York, the agent suggested she remove the mole on her upper lip. She had always been insecure about it, but her mom told her removing it might leave a scar. She went to the test shoot set up by the agent anyway and although the photos turned out cheesy, the hairdresser on the shoot showed Cindy's polaroids to Marie Anderson, an agent at Stewart Talent Agency, later becoming Elite Model Management in Chicago.
Marie put Cindy to work and her very first job was an ad for a bra in the Chicago Tribune. The photo made its way back to her high school, but she didn't care as she made $150 from the shoot. Better than working in the corn fields. Her mole was retouched a few times and some people tried to cover it up, but after she appeared on Vogue, it became her trademark.
Victor Skrebneski was Cindy's first real consistent modeling gig. He was one of the only high fashion photographers in Chicago and taught Cindy how to model by showing off the clothes rather than her own body. On Skrebneski's set, the models had to do their own hair and makeup. Cindy started to get more opportunity out in New York, but felt safe staying in Chicago. She was given the opportunity in 1985 to do a shoot in Egypt and was free except for one day booked with Skrebneski. He said if she did the Egypt shoot he would never work with her again. He also told her that she didn't have an easy face to photograph and that he was the only photographer that knew how to make her look good. She knew it was time to expand her horizons so she did it with hopes that he wouldn't mean it, but he kept his word. He never worked with her again.
UNTIL...the end of the book reveals that years later, Victor Skrebneski called her and asked if she wanted to shoot with him. She expected him to apologize and for them to talk about the way they parted, but she realized he probably didn't even think about how things went down between them even though she had thought about it constantly over the years.
Luckily, they worked together again and it seemed to be a full circle moment in Cindy's life as a model
When Cindy got to New York, she was booked by Richard Avedon to try for a Vogue cover. She describes Richard as giving her the advice to have a thought behind every shot. Each different thought infuses the image with energy. She credits Avedon for teaching her how to do a magazine cover. At the time this book was published, Cindy had been on 17 American Vogue covers.
Irving Penn was a serious photographer, interested in making art. He would photograph his subjects like a still painting and while most sets had music blaring, Irving Penn worked in silence.
Arthur Elgort had a very free-flowing style. While most of Cindy's modeling experiences were about staying still and being precise, Arthur always shot in motion. Cindy describes it being a strange adjustment from all the other shoots she had done. Arthur shot her wedding.
Patrick Demarchelier can make anything look beautiful. He knows all the right lighting and setups. If Cindy could have anyone photograph her today, it would be Patrick since he makes everything a lovely experience.
Helmut Newton had a great sense of humor and loved to bring his obscure visions to life. He would often photograph Cindy in a bathing suit and heels.
Herb Ritts had a great relationship with Cindy. He was always honest at their photoshoots and Cindy says he always wanted you to be your best self. Cindy says that if she had to pick just one favorite photographer, it would be Herb Ritts.
Peter Lingbergh loved texture and black and white. Although he shot high fashion, he was always looking for emotion on his models' faces. He loved overcast, cloudy shooting days.
Sante D'Orazio liked to shoot women in a raw and real way. He looked like an off-duty rocker and would take images that were just the right amount of suggestive.
Marco Glaviano was the photographer Cindy selected to do her bikini calendar shoots. He knew how to deliver images that could be hung on the walls of guys everywhere.
Steven Meisel used a mirror to help models to adjust their movements. He had an exact vision of what he wants the image to look like. He would also play a song over and over again during a shoot to evoke the right kind of feeling. Cindy describes his shoots as "smart, original, and fierce".
In the iconic photograph of the nude supermodels on Herb Ritts' patio, Christy Turlington was originally not allowed to be in the shot due to her contract with Calvin Klein. Herb asked her to jump in last minute for his own personal collection and the image became super popular years later.
Cindy was originally disappointed with the Freedom '90 music video. All the models shot their parts separately so no one had seen the finished product and Cindy remembered feeling like her bathtub scene was less glamorous than the other girls'. Cindy credits the Peter Lindbergh Vogue 1990 photoshoot, the Freedom music video, and the Versace show that reunited the models from the music video on the runway for the rise of the supermodel era.
The 1991 Pepsi commercial didn't feel special at the time of shooting it, but when Cindy saw the ad run, she realized that it was an instant classic.
When she was asked by JFK Jr. to be on the cover of the first issue of George magazine as George Washington, Cindy was unsure, but since Herb Ritts would be photographing it, she decided to trust him. She credits the creative team with modernizing the hair, makeup, and wardrobe, and explains that one key element of the cover was the cropped ruffled top that Kate Harrington selected. She doesn't feel like it's the prettiest picture of her, but she was ultimately proud of it.
Photography and technology drastically changed over the years Cindy was working with photographers switching to digital versus film. She describes this as an adjustment for her since now every image is carefully watched as it is made, and as a model sometimes you try different positions that might not be as flattering. Photography sets used to be a small intimate team that worked together and the only way to express to the client that they got the shot was at the photographer's discretion. Now, teams can see how the photos will look as soon as they come in. But Cindy explains that she has tried to use digital photography to her advantage by seeing some of the first shots and making improvements. She also claims that retouching is more rampant now, but sometimes it can be used artistically.
Cindy explains that she never had a model's build and that she often didn't fit into the sample sizes at designer shows. She was always really skinny in high school but was in for a bit of a rude awakening to find she was still not considered skinny enough for the modeling industry. She never really learned anything about dieting or nutrition so she had to adjust when she got to New York and to get a trainer. She said the most important thing was to work on your fitness for your mind in addition to having a strong, healthy body. She says that the modeling industry is always changing and that the pendulum always swings back the other way. One day Marilyn Monroe is the ideal body type while another day heroin-chic is trending. The idea is to be the healthiest you can be and if you don't like the images you are seeing in media, stop buying and supporting them so that your voice is heard.
Playboy called Cindy in 1988 when her modeling career was starting to take off, but she was still pretty new to the game. Initially everyone told her not to do it, that high fashion magazines would stop working with her. She decided that since Herb Ritts would be the photographer, she would agree to do the magazine for a nominal fee and have complete creative control, including the ability to scrap the project if she didn't like it. She always felt comfortable because there weren't any images that she wouldn't have done for a high fashion magazine like French Vogue.
Because Cindy was on the covers of Playboy and Vogue within the same year, MTV decided she would be a good choice to host their new show House of Style. MTV was still mainly a music video network at the time and was just starting to branch out into original content. Cindy said she felt stiff at first but got better as the show went on. She ended up hosting for 7 years and says the show allowed her to be seen as someone with a voice rather than just a model.
The book also features more of Cindy's stories including how she met and married her current husband, what she felt about being pregnant and having kids, and much more. If you've ever been interested in Cindy Crawford or her career, this is a great book to read!
Have you ever been interested in the supermodels from the 90s? I'm a major 90s baby and I am seriously fascinated by fashion from that era!