May 6, 2011 / 5:57 PM / in 7 years

Supermodels making more money than ever

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - U.S. unemployment might still be hovering near 10 percent, but don’t worry about the supermodels.

<p>Brazilian model Gisele Bundchen presents a creation from Colcci's Winter 2011 collection during Sao Paulo Fashion Week January 30, 2011. REUTERS/Nacho Doce</p>

The world’s 10 top-earning models pulled in a collective $112 million during the past year, a 30 percent increase from the previous year, thanks in part to consumers spending again on the luxury sector, according to Forbes.com.

But most of the increase went to the big three of the modeling world, Gisele Bundchen, Heidi Klum and Kate Moss, who have molded themselves into moguls in their own right, or morphed into pop icons, or both.

Bundchen, who raked in $45 million or nearly double the previous year, is “in a class by herself,” Edward Razek, Limited Brands’ chief marketing officer who worked with her during her Victoria’s Secret career, told Forbes.

“She’s an international icon who can also move products from shampoo to couture,” Razek said.

The Brazilian supermodel was even cited during last month’s third-quarter earnings call from Procter & Gamble, owing to a 40 percent spike in Latin American sales of its Pantene shampoo once Bundchen starting hawking it, according to Forbes.com.

The surging Brazilian real against the dollar didn’t hurt.

<p>British model Kate Moss presents creation by U.S. designer Marc Jacobs as part of his Fall-Winter 2011/2012 women's ready-to-wear fashion collection for French fashion house Louis Vuitton during Paris Fashion Week March 9, 2011. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier</p>

Klum added $20 million to her empire by continuing her evolution from model to businesswoman, adding a clothing line and a new children’s show to her successful run with the reality series “Project Runway.”

Moss has similarly fashioned herself a double-barreled career, to the tune of $13.5 million last year, owing to a host of modeling and designing gigs including a lucrative design deal with the British fashion brand TopShop.

Despite the elites’ burgeoning wealth, it’s a different story down in the trenches, Forbes said.

Younger models just getting started are finding their paychecks have shrunk since pre-recession days.

“People took a very realistic look at what they were paying models,” said Razek. “There was a substantial adjustment in rates, maybe not for Gisele, but for the daily working model, and most people found the world didn’t collapse.”

The lingerie house Victoria’s Secret is proving itself to be something of a modeling farm team, with the South African model Candice Swanepoel debuting on the list at number 10 with $3 million in earnings.

Other Victoria’s Secret veterans who made the list include Adriana Lima ($8 million) and Alessandra Ambrosio ($5 million).

The full list can be found here

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