In the 'The Super Models,' Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington say that the video marked the first time they realized they were a part of something "iconic"
It's no exaggeration to call Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington iconic. But according to the four supermodels, they didn't quite realize what a big role they occupied in pop culture until they got a call from George Michael to star in his new music video.
The four runway superstars discussed how they came to be cast in the pop star's "Freedom! '90" music video in the second episode of Apple TV+'s new documentary series The Super Models.
In an interview with MTV, Michael explains his decision to cast models and have them lip-sync to his song instead of starring in the video himself, saying, "I made decisions a couple years ago to change the way my career was going and my life was going by not appearing in the videos, by not being interviewed, by not doing press. Basically, letting my music kind of do what it's going to do."
So, Campbell explains in the documentary, "We get this phone call that George Michael wants us in his video," and according to Crawford, "George was like, 'It has to be this group of women.' It had to be all of us." Despite Evangelista not being interested "at all" at first "because it wasn't fashion," Turlington confirmed that "at some point, we made a group decision" to do it.
It then fell on Campbell's shoulders to let Michael know that they were on board with the concept.
"Basically, I'm in a nightclub in LA, The Roxbury actually on Sunset, and George is there and he comes up to me and he says, 'So what is it that you guys want?,'" the model recalls. "I said, 'We want this much money and round-trip Concorde tickets.' He goes, 'And that's it?' I said, 'That's it.'"
The four supers were then flown to London to shoot the music video and Evangelista reveals that, "When I got to the set and they wanted me to lip-sync, I didn't know the words. I had to learn them very quickly in the trailer while they were doing my hair and makeup."
Turlington likewise was very much learning the words on the fly that day. "My very first scene that I shot was where you just see my eyes through, like, this cutout. You see my mouth, then you see my eyes, you see my mouth, you see my eyes," she says. "And anytime I dip down it's because I don't know the words yet. I'm not that great with lyrics."
Crawford adds, "I just remember it being super dark and someone explaining to me that I was going to be in a bathtub. I was like, 'Really?' I felt like everyone else had a better part than me."
And Campbell admits that while the video certainly had all the elements of something instantly iconic, "We were not knowing the impact that that video had at all. We didn't have time to know because, honestly, we were just jumping from the next country to the next country."
Tatjana Patitz, who died in January of metastatic breast cancer at 65, also starred in the legendary video. Patitz was also considered one of the original supermodels. While she's not discussed much in the documentary, episode 2 of the series is dedicated to her honor and legacy.
But what really took "Freedom! '90" from classic to legendary is when Donatella and Gianni Versace got involved. Donatella explains, "'Freedom' had just come out. I was talking to Gianni and I said, 'Why don't you get the girls, the gorgeous girls on the runway?' Each one of them has a strong personality and they're not afraid to show it. The combination of fashion and their personality was magic."
And so, Turlington says they all arrived at the Versace runway show in Milan that season, "saw our clothes, did our rehearsal, and then the song came on and it was like 'Ooh, I get what you're doing.'"
During the runway show, the four models walked the catwalk while lip-syncing to Michael's song before coming out altogether hand-in-hand for one final strut. Crawford continues, "This incredible song, this incredible designer, the moment of the women singing the song, it was just like it all came together. It was like, ok, that's what a supermodel is. We looked powerful and then we started believing that."
Evangelista said that even then she "didn't imagine that it was going to catapult us to another level." But Turlington disagrees. "We could feel that moment. That is a moment that you knew would be iconic."
The Super Models four-part documentary series, spotlighting the extraordinary careers of Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington, is streaming now on Apple TV+.
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