Highest-Paid Models

Thin Waists, Fat Wallets

Highest-Paid Models
October 30, 2015

It's almost unfair to be outrageously gorgeous and outrageously rich. Yet those two properties are connected for the fortunate few women who combine their looks with a solid work ethic (and a bit of luck) to reach supermodel status and then apply business acumen to build their fortunes.

To see who has cashed in on their looks and skills the most, here are the eleven top-earning models as listed in the Forbes 2015 list for the world's highest-paid models. (With apologies to Spinal Tap...our list goes to eleven.) The list compiles pre-tax earnings for models that receive most of their income from modeling and related endorsements, excluding other entertainment performances (acting, singing, etc.)

1. Gisele Bündchen – Add being married to a handsome wealthy professional athlete, and the perceived unfairness goes off the scale. However, Bündchen (pictured below) has rightfully earned her spot far above the other models on the list through her own lines of sandals and lingerie, as well as endorsement deals including Chanel, Balenciaga, and Under Armour. Her $44 million in earnings are actually down from last year's $47 million.

2. Cara Delevingne (tie) – Her acting career and friendship with Taylor Swift give Delevingne an increasingly high profile, leading to multiple ad campaigns including DKNY and Topshop. Her income shot up from $3 million in 2014 to $9 million in 2015, earning a tie for second place on the Forbes list.

2. Adriana Lima (tie) – Lima (pictured below) has been associated with Victoria's Secret since 2000 and also boasts endorsement deals with Marc Jacobs and H&M — not to mention a memorable Kia advertisement during the Super Bowl. Lima also raked in $9 million in 2015.

4. Doutzen Kroes – The Frisian beauty (pictured on top) has business relationships with L'Oréal, Tiffany & Co., Samsung, and Calvin Klein and also offers a line of cashmere sweaters. Her 2015 earnings were $7.5 million.

5. Natalia Vodianova – Among other endorsements, the Russian supermodel represents Calvin Klein and Guerlain. Endorsements and her line of lingerie through Etam earned her $7 million in 2015.

6. Miranda Kerr (tie) – A recent split with husband Orlando Bloom didn’t stop Kerr (pictured below) from banking $5.5 million in 2015 through relationships with Wonderbra, Swarovski, and Escada. Kerr's KORA Organics cosmetics line rounds out her income.

6. Joan Smalls (tie) – Smalls puts in enormous time on the catwalk while raking in endorsement money from Estée Lauder, Joe Fresh, and Marc Jacobs, among others. Her $5.5 million 2015 income ties for sixth place.

8. Lara Stone (tie) – Stone joins Kroes as the Dutch contingent in the highest-paid list, with contracts including L'Oréal, Calvin Klein, Tom Ford, and Stella McCartney. $5 million in 2015 income earns Stone a tie for eighth place.

8. Alessandra Ambrosio (tie) – Most of Ambrosio's $5 million income comes from her work with Victoria's Secret, but she supplements that income with clothing and swimwear lines as well as contracts with Schutz and Dafiti.

10. Candice Swanepoel (tie) – The South African beauty (pictured below) joins the $5 million club thanks to business arrangements with Max Factor, Versace, Victoria's Secret and Givenchy.

11. Karlie Kloss (tie) – Another FOS (Friend of Swift), Kloss is no longer associated with Victoria's Secret but is doing just fine at $5 million in income thanks to deals with the likes of Chanel, L'Oréal, Joe Fresh and Kate Spade.

These eleven models all topped the $5 million mark this year, and while Gisele was the only one to crack a double-digit income, don't be surprised if she is joined next year by one of the other ten on this list — or any of the other up-and-coming models.


Doutzen Kroes photo ©iStock.com/EdStock | Gisele Bundchen by Lili Ferraz (Lili Ferraz) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons | Miranda Kerr by Ahmad Fauzi Abdullah (originally posted to Flickr as DPP_0145) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons | Adriana Lima by Georges Biard [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons | Candice Swanpoel by By Photobra, Adam Bielawski (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

  Conversation   |   15 Comments

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Elaine | 10.30.15 @ 16:04
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder for one thing. For another, I don't feel someone should be paid that much just for looks.
Sarah | 10.30.15 @ 17:01
wow... what a wonderful message to send to people. yep, sarcasm. seriously though, I know they go through a lot being a model and junk but oh my giddy aunt... that is insane.
Erin | 10.30.15 @ 17:02
I never understood why they make so much money, but I guess people are willing to spend money to feel beautiful, so why not?
Nancy | 10.30.15 @ 17:03
Good money to made for being born gorgeous.
Bobbie | 10.30.15 @ 17:03
Talk about wining the genetic lottery. Hope they stash that money or have an exit strategy for later in life.
Amanda | 10.30.15 @ 17:04
Never heard of most of them, but wow!!! That's a lot of money to be pretty while many others are beautiful and not receive a dime. I'm sure they go through a lot of drama but is it really worth that much money a year?
Meredith L | 10.30.15 @ 17:05
There is no doubt that it takes some skill, training, and "the look". I've always wanted to model when I was a child but I stopped growing at 16 and was only 5'2" oh well! Maybe another lifetime.
Britt | 10.30.15 @ 17:06
It's rather sad, but I can see how and why this is true.
Kailie | 10.30.15 @ 17:07
These women are beautiful, but it's really sad and frightening.
Rindy | 10.30.15 @ 17:09
While I think all people in places of status are paid too much. I have to hand it to a person who has looks and brains to invest wisely.
Kyle | 10.30.15 @ 17:10
Interesting article for sure.
Heather | 10.30.15 @ 17:11
I've only heard of one of these models and because of her famous football husband. Even though most of them are not pictured I can guess that they are all super skinny. How about having your average bodies woman as a top model for a change so younger girls can have a reasonable woman to look up to instead of thinking they need to be bone thin.
Alec | 10.30.15 @ 17:13
These women are beautiful but the standards set for models are so ridiculous that very few women can obtain the look and fame. These women are dedicated. I know a lot of models do charity work and are nice people. Hopefully this is true of these as well, especially with the amount of money and influence they have.
Carla Truett | 10.30.15 @ 17:15
It is sad that people think you have to be thin to make money. People should appreciate all beauty, not just smaller sizes. I understand but I don't like it.
Wanda Langley | 10.30.15 @ 17:16
I knew that Models made good Money but had no idea it was this much!
$commenter.renderDisplayableName() | 12.08.16 @ 00:09
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