Claudia Schiffer: The supermodel at 50
German-born supermodel Claudia Schiffer stood at the pinnacle of the fashion world during modeling's golden age. We review as she turns 50 on August 25.
From schoolgirl to cover girl
German supermodel Claudia Schiffer initially planned to be a lawyer like her father. All that changed in 1987 when the 17-year-old was discovered in a Dusseldorf disco by a modeling agent who invited her to go to Paris for a trial shoot. Shortly after, fashion photographer Ellen von Unwerth shot Claudia for the cover of "Elle." Just a few years later, she appeared at the Chanel show in 1990.
Karl Lagerfeld's muse
Success came rapidly for the newbie model. Von Unwerth photographed Claudia for a Guess jeans campaign and in 1988, top designer Karl Lagerfeld (left) declared her to be his muse, also making her the new face of Chanel. Her bright blue eyes shone out from the covers of all the top fashion magazines, and she walked global runways for designers such as Versace, Valentino and Dolce & Gabbana.
The golden age of supermodels
In the 1990s, Claudia (right) was earning around $10 million per year. It was the apex of the supermodel era, a decadent decade filled with alcohol, astronomical fees and first-name global fame. But Claudia's reputation within the industry was one of discipline and standoffishness. "Maybe I should have had a glass of champagne now and then," she told German newspaper "Süddeutsche Zeitung" in 2014.
Enchanted by a magician
In 1993, the then 23-year-old met star magician David Copperfield (right) at a gala in Berlin and became engaged in 1994. Claudia even appeared in some of Copperfield's stage acts. However, after a few years the magic faded from their romance; in 1997, they announced their split, citing incompatible work schedules. There were rumors that the romance was not real, but just a business relationship.
Claudia continued a full-steam modeling career into the early 2000s. But her priorities shifted after marrying film director Matthew Vaughn in 2002 and starting a family. She scaled back her work to spend time with her husband and their three children: Caspar (left), Clementine (right) and Cosima (not pictured).
Beyond the runway
The Rheinberg-born model made her home in London, where she appeared on a series of 2006 tube ads highlighting German investment (above). Her project portfolio diversified in the new millennium: She launched a cashmere collection in 2011, as well as designed a series of glasses frames for the German eyewear company Rodenstock. She also appeared in a minor role in the hit movie "Love Actually."
Tributes to a supermodel
In August 2017, Prestel Verlag published a commemorative book of photos and text tributes from the photographers and designers who have worked with the supermodel. Here, the cover photograph of the book she is signing shows the mother of three in a nude photo by Mario Testino for "Vogue" in Paris in 2007.