With guidance from Karl Lagerfeld, the shy German teen became an iconic 1990s supermodel. Beneath the glamor, Claudia Schiffer was lauded as a disciplined professional. The "Ice Queen" maintains her cool at 50.


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Claudia Schiffer: The supermodel at 50

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.

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Claudia Schiffer: The supermodel at 50

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.


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Claudia Schiffer: The supermodel at 50

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.


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Claudia Schiffer: The supermodel at 50

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.


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Claudia Schiffer: The supermodel at 50

Family life

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).


Claudia Schiffer: The supermodel at 50

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."


Claudia Schiffer: The supermodel at 50

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.

Author: Cristina Burack


Claudia Schiffer: The supermodel at 50

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.


Claudia Schiffer: The supermodel at 50

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.


Claudia Schiffer: The supermodel at 50

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.


Claudia Schiffer: The supermodel at 50

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 Schiffer: The supermodel at 50

Family life

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).


Claudia Schiffer: The supermodel at 50

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."


Claudia Schiffer: The supermodel at 50

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.

Author: Cristina Burack


Unlike the generic, faceless catwalk models of the 2020s, Claudia Schiffer was among a group of 1990s supermodels who were celebrated like rock stars. At the age of 50, the celebrity model symbolizes a bygone fashion era that holds increasing fascination today.

Schiffermade her name in an iconic 1989 photoshoot for the Guess fashion brand. "I never had the urge to be in the spotlight," sheconfessed a few months ago in the Britishedition ofEllefashion magazine. She was always considered diligent, disciplined —and free of scandal. Unlike the wilder supermodels of the era, like Kate Moss, Schiffer never made headlines for being drunk at after-show parties.

"In the last 30 years I had the reputation as a sort of "Ice Queen,"" Schiffer wrote in her eponymous 2017 book about her 30-year career. "A little cool, professional and always restrained when out of the spotlight. A somewhat harsh, but not unfair description."


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The cover of "Claudia Schiffer," published in 2017


Discovered on a dance floor

Schiffer was discovered at 17 on thedance floor of a disco in Dusseldorf. At the time, she wanted to follow in her father"s footsteps and become a lawyer. But the shy young girl from Rheinberg, a northwest German town,was soon a star, her blue eyes, blonde mane and legendary pout used to sell fashion, cosmetics, soft drinks andcar brands around the world.

In addition to struttingthe catwalk for haute couture label Chanel and modeling forfashion chains such as Mango and Accessorize, Schiffer"s face also soon adorned the front pages of more than 1,000 magazines. It was a lucrative career;the supermodel today has assets estimated at around €200 million ($236 million).

The Schiffer brand

In 1989, the German photographer Ellen von Unwerth photographedClaudia Schiffer in a legendary shoot for the German edition of Elle,describingthe 19-year-old model as a "healthy German girl with a stunning smile" and comparingher with Brigitte Bardot.

The resemblance to Bardot meant Schiffer was particularly well received in Paris. As early as 1988, designerKarl Lagerfeldsigned her with Chanel, helping"La Schiffer" to become the world"s best paid model.

"I will be forever grateful to him," she wrote on the occasion of theGermandesigner"s death in 2019, adding that the designer taught her about fashion, style and how to survive in the fashion industry.


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The world at her feet: Claudia Schiffer in New York in 1989


Schiffer"s career soon catapulted beyond catwalks and photo modeling to become her own brand. She worked with world-leading photographers like Peter Lindbergh, Mario Testino and Helmut Newton, her iconic look setting her apart. Star designers Dolce and Gabbana wrote of Schiffer: "Her perfect beauty overwhelmed us from the start: luxurious, shining golden locks, eyes as blue as Sicilian waters, a body stature that recalls antique statues of goddesses."

But it wasn"t juststar designers and global brands that wanted to be associated with the supermodel.

"It was insane," Schiffer recalledof her peak years in Elle. "Like being a rock star. You couldn’t get to your car unless a path was carved for you. People would cut holes in the fashion tents and try to take pictures of us." She had to employ security to guard her underwear. "When I was out on the runway I"d come back and constantly my underwear would be gone —my bra, my knickers … gone!" she said.

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Quiet life in theEnglishcountryside

"I am so happy to turn 50and in my life I have never felt safer or happier. I don"t try to look or feel younger," Schiffer recently told Britain"sThe Telegraph newspaper.