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Our Favorite American Models of All Time


Independence Day weekend is upon us, and as it usually happens around this time of year, we're filled with the spirit of all things red, white and blue — including our country's greatest contributions to the world of fashion. This, of course, includes models.

While the runways each season are (happily) getting more diverse, there's still something to be said about the hometown girls that we've grown up seeing, whether in the pages of Sports Illustrated or in a quintessentially all-American Ralph Lauren ad. In the spirit of the holiday, the Fashionista team pooled together its favorite American models of all time.

Ali Michael

"She might not be your traditional American girl, but she's definitely the coolest. Her Instagram is filled with her anime obsessions and plenty of cat collars, and, let's be real, she has the greatest eyebrows of all time. (Cara, who?)" —Steff Yotka

Frankie Rayder 

"She's cool. My favorite models move seamlessly from commercial to editorial—even though she's such an LA girl and a bit of a tomboy, she can also do the 'sexy bombshell' thing as well as high fashion. Not to mention that she looks like a tough bitch. And I mean that in the best possible way." —Lauren Sherman

Tyra Banks

"She taught the world to 'smize' and told the press to kiss her fat ass. How can you not love Tyra?! Her incredible curves also made her one of America's favorite models, appearing everywhere from the Sports Illustrated Swim cover to Victoria's Secret Fashion Shows." —Tyler McCall

Lindsey Wixson

"Rarely does the 'American girl' also get to be the high fashion girl, but Lindsey Wixson broke the mold. She started her career at 14 in Miu Miu's doll-like ads, and has since represented houses like Versace, Chanel, and Yves Saint Laurent." —Steff Yotka

Christy Turlington Burns

"I think she is the most beautiful model ever. (Grace Coddington agrees with me, which means it must be true.) I remember watching a TV special in my teens about the 10 or 20 best models of all time, and the presenter explained that what makes Turlington so beautiful is that she has an almost perfectly symmetrical face. But I think it's more than that: There's her quiet, casual grace; the All-American smile, and a yoga and water-infused healthiness about her that make her so mesmerizing." —Lauren Indvik

Stephanie Seymour

"She was everywhere in the '80s and '90s, aka my impressionable teenage years. I'd love to say that I really appreciated all the seductive work she did with Herb Ritts during that time, but I'd be lying (although I love it now). It was her, ahem, work with Axl Rose from Guns N' Roses that really made her badass in my opinion. I mean, just look at that wedding dress from the 'November Rain' video. One-of-a-kind (thank god). I also love that she gave birth to the Brant brothers. Also -- I promised that I'd let Steff share Stephanie with me: She once bought a Stephanie Seymour-emblazoned skateboard with all $70 of her Christmas money in 2010. I can't beat that kind of dedication." —Cheryl Wischhover

Karlie Kloss

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"I'm not sure there's anyone more hardworking in the biz — between her Kookies, denim and glasses, she's already got plenty of collabs under her svelte belt, plus her incredible campaigns. But, more importantly, there's no one nicer in the industry either. And there's nothing more all-American than being sweet-as-pie, right?" —Tyler McCall

Gigi Hadid

"The moment I first saw Gigi make a cameo on 'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' (yes, I watch it. You caught me.) I knew she was destined for modeling superstardom. She looks like an angel, and she really has the blonde-haired, blue-eyed California girl thing working in her favor. I can't wait to see her in editorials and ad campaigns for years to come." —Alyssa Vingan

Carolyn Murphy

"I once interviewed Carolyn Murphy and had a hard time forming sentences because I was so transfixed by her beauty — not to mention she's incredibly well-spoken and as sweet as can be. She's an icon because of her versatility: She's a self-professed tomboy but can still look like a bombshell in Sports Illustrated, a tattooed badass in an indie European publication or like a sophisticate on the cover of Vogue. I can't name many models who can do it all better than she can." —Alyssa Vingan

Kate Upton

"Few current models embody the traditional All-American look as perfectly as Kate Upton. The blonde hair, blue eyes, tanned skin and voluptuous curves scream 'USA' louder than any soccer fan we've heard this week. Even the fact that she was discovered on YouTube is basically the modern version of the American Dream (or something?). Best of all: Upton embraces her god-given Americanness and uses it to her advantage instead of trying to conform to some quiet, underweight, European aesthetic. And it's worked: Not only does she already have a number of GQ and Sports Illustrated covers and editorials under her belt, but she's also been embraced by the high fashion world specifically for her uniquely boobalicious, all-American look." —Dhani Mau 

Jenny Shimizu

"I've had the pleasure of interviewing Jenny Shimizu a number of times and can confirm that she is just as inspiring IRL as she appears in her photos. She's been an auto mechanic, a Calvin Klein girl, a LGBTQ advocate and a modeling agent, but I think the word that best epitomizes Shimizu is 'icon.'" —Steff Yotka

Elaine Irwin

"No one will ever be as synonymous with American style to me as Elaine Irwin. She's the Bruce Weber girl, the Calvin Klein girl, the Almay girl...the true American everywoman. No really, Vogue says so, too." —Steff Yotka

Dree Hemingway

"First of all, she's a Hemingway, so she's basically an American legend right there. But she also has a killer smile, legs for days and an incredibly versatile look that's won over everyone from Alexander Wang to David Yurman. She's come a long way from her days as a little kiddo in Idaho!" —Alyssa Vingan