Iconic Supermodel Susan Holmes-McKagan Says, “I love the models of this generation!”

Susan Holmes McKagan has worn many hats since her big break at age of 17. First, she established herself as a supermodel in the era of huge supermodels, developed her own swimwear line, worked in television, and built an awesome family with Duff McKagan of Guns N’ Roses (Grace McKagan is her daughter). What’s left to conquer after that? Susan tell us here.

ON HOW SHE GOT STARTED: My big sister, Cynthia, modeled, and I thought, “Ooh… that looks fun and glamorous!” I’ve always tremendously loved fashion, make-up, and beautiful clothes and photographs. I was seventeen and visiting New York with my mom when one special night, we had plans to go to dinner then see Cats on Broadway. I got up to use the restroom, and when I got back to the table, our adjacent table approached me. The diners next to us happened to be Jodie Foster and famed photographer Marco Glaviano. Marco asked if I was a model and if I had an agency; and if not, to go see Eileen Ford the next morning and tell her, “Marco sent me.” Needless to say, my mom and I were over the moon. And that was my very first intro to modeling in the Big Apple! 

WHEN SUPERMODELS RULED THE WORLD: Modeling now is cool, but it’s just not the same. At that time, it really was all about the elegance, glamour, and attitude of the designers, magazines, photographers, and models. It was a synergy, if you will, of this particular time, with this special bond that occurred between this tightknit, sort of “private club” world. It was less about actresses and celebrities and publicists pushing their person/product for social media’s sake, and more about the art and attitude evoked in the fashion. I recently returned from London, and of course, had to make my way to the Victoria and Albert Museum again. This time, I witnessed the insanely talented Alexander McQueen’s exhibit. It showcased his various pieces from his amazing clothing empire, much of which dominated this supermodel era. I noticed that everyone in the museum seemed to only notice the fashion – this designer’s pure artistic vision. The hype was his brilliance and talent, and how he evoked emotions stemming from his designs and the models of all shapes and physical traits representing them. Basically, the imagery in magazines at that time was about fashion and brilliance. Now, it’s more about who’s in the magazine.  

ON MODELS OF THIS GENERATION: Gigi, Kendall, and this new generation of girls are absolutely gorgeous! I also dig Ashley Graham – the plus size beauty dominating tons of magazines – and Candice Swanepoel for her angelic features. I commend them for portraying themselves not only as super fun girls, but humble and cool. I think it’s great to see that, while they like to make frequent appearances at various events and parties, they also take their jobs seriously. One thing’s for sure – the modeling world is fickle, and while you are today’s “it” girl, you never know exactly how the industry is going to change.  It’s the nature of the beast. People’s viewpoint on what is hot [change]. The “it” girl du jour could be a petite androgynous London street punk one day, and the next, a tall, curvaceous bombshell who’s a doppelgänger for a vintage screen icon. I’ve seen it all – from super power-wealthy, blue blood socialites to the exact polar grungy opposite. In other words, be thankful for any and all modeling gigs. Try and use your notoriety as a platform to give back to charitable endeavors, and of course, save your money, and use it to launch, say, your next business. 

ON FASHION TODAY: I feel so much is recirculating now more than ever. Artists and designers are drawing inspiration from the 70s, 80s, and 90s in such a major way. I see nuances of Stephen Sprouse, old school Adidas, and early Gianni Versace being reinstated in so much of today’s fashion. I feel the fashion industry has changed immensely with so much on-trend merchandise made available so rapidly and for so much less, via online and at stores like Zara, Forever 21, and H&M. In so many ways, fashion has evolved to become more palatable for a modern, creative woman who doesn’t have an insane budget.  

HER MOST MEMORABLE JOB: There’s definitely a tie. At one time, I wore a one-of-a-kind couture aqua and lime sequined jacket and skirt ensemble at the Yves St. Laurent show. The one and only beautiful Catherine Deneuve was in attendance at the show. She ended up being seen like crazy in all of the press the next week, as she had bought the dress that she had seen me wear in the show. There’s also the awesome day I had with my model friends – Meghan Douglas, Tyra Banks, and Kate Moss – shooting a Dolce & Gabbana campaign with Steven Meisel. Everyone surprised me with a cake and sang happy birthday to me! How lucky was I? 

 ALL-TIME FAVORITE DESIGNERS: Dolce & Gabbana, Alexander McQueen, Versace, Tart, Michael Costello, and Isabel Marant. For jewelry, I’m obsessed with Chrome Hearts. And in terms of shoes, I’m all about Chanel, Jimmy Choo, and Giuseppe Zanotti. Of course, for swim/resort, I wear my silk georgette cover-ups and fun bikinis from my own line, Susan Holmes Swimwear.  

 LOOKING FORWARD: I am enjoying writing more and more at the moment. I am now going on year three as a regular columnist for The Huffington Post and @PopWrapped. I’ve started writing my own book, so I’m looking forward to publishing it. I can’t wait to add author, not just writer, to my resume. That would be very fulfilling!  



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