Janice Dickinson is the self-proclaimed “world’s first supermodel” but was she actually the original runway superstar?

When we think of supermodels, 1990s runway goddesses Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, and Kate Moss spring to mind. But before these became household names, the likes of Twiggy and Gia Carangi led the pack in the 60s and 70s.

According to ANTM star Janice Dickinson, she was the original world’s first supermodel, but how true is this statement? Reality Titbit investigates her claim as a catwalk pioneer.

The real story of whether Janice Dickinson was the ‘world’s first supermodel’

Elliott Gould party for Genevieve Waite - 17 Jul 1974
Photo by Fairchild Archive/WWD/Penske Media via Getty Images

Janice labeled herself as the first supermodel in a 2006 interview for Instinct Magazine as she reflected on her career.

“For the last 32 years, I’ve worked in the industry where I reigned as the world’s first supermodel in front of the camera,” she said. “Coined the term supermodel in 1979, been in the back of the camera as a fashion photographer for 30 years, been an editor for several magazines, and been a syndicated photographer for Sygma for the last 25 years. I think I have a little bit of instinct on what it takes to be a model in today’s age.”

The fashion veteran claims she invented the term during a conversation with her agent. “I was doing every job that I could to get my hands on money, so I could have money,” she recalled. “[My agent] said, ‘You are working night and day. You are going to get ill. Who do you think you are? Superman?’ I said, ‘No, I’m Supermodel.'”.

Janice, 68, was undoubtedly one of the biggest names in fashion; at the peak of her career in the 80s, she graced the cover of Vogue 37 times and worked with the likes of Versace and Dior.

That being said, the respected “world’s first supermodel” title has been awarded to countless names, including Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton, and Lisa Fonssagrives, all of whom paved the way decades before.

Early uses of “supermodel” include an October 1942 Chicago Tribune article. Written by Judith Cass, it was headlined “‘Super’ Models Are Signed For Fashion Show.”

Janice, who later starred in America’s Next Top Model, and her claim is also disputed by the likes of Vogue, who named Fonssagrives as “fashion’s first supermodel” in a 2015 article. Another instance was a September 1975 cover featuring Margaux Hemingway, who was advertised as “New York’s new supermodel”.

Photos of a young Dickinson

Circa 1975:

Janice Dickinson
Photo by Michael Brennan/Getty Images

April 1976: Concept VII fall 1976 ready to wear unway

Concept VII Fall 1976 Ready to Wear Runway
Photo by Nick Machalaba/WWD/Penske Media via Getty Images

October 1978: Ad campaign for Wamsutta Sheets X Calvin Klein

Portrait Of Janice Dickinson
Photo by Susan Wood/Getty Images

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