The 12 Models Who Had the Biggest Year in 2017

From established Instagirls to scene-stealing newbies, it was a good year to have a pretty face.
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From established Instagirls to scene-stealing newbies, it was a good year to have a pretty face.
Breakout Instagirl Kaia Gerber and money-maker Kendall Jenner backstage at Bottega Veneta Spring 2018. Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

Breakout Instagirl Kaia Gerber and money-maker Kendall Jenner backstage at Bottega Veneta Spring 2018. Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

Of all the facets of the fashion industry we get to cover here at Fashionista, perhaps none is so beloved as that of the modeling business. Whether it's getting excited about a new face or stanning for our favorite established girls, we're big into model-watching. And while 2017 was, by and large, a giant pile of trash, there were more than a few girls who are ending the year on a high note. 

With that in mind, we decided to award superlatives to some of the models who had major moments this year. From raking in big paychecks to bringing some much-needed attention to important movements, these are the girls who deserve a nice vacation before continuing to dominate in 2018.

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The Girl Who Made the Most Bank: Kendall Jenner

Kendall Jenner enjoying the many fruits of her labors. Photo: @kendalljenner/Instagram

Kendall Jenner enjoying the many fruits of her labors. Photo: @kendalljenner/Instagram

Regardless of her Pepsi and Fyre Festival controversies — or, perhaps, because of them? — Kendall Jenner ended 2017 with a fat stack of cash. Forbes placed her number-one on its list of top-paid models this year, cleaning up with $22 million and rocketing her past longtime champ Gisele Bundchen. Her "Keeping Up" paycheck definitely helps, but Jenner was also bringing home the bacon from contracts with brands like La Perla, Estée Lauder, Fendi and Adidas, plus her own line with sister Kylie. Oh, and she gained another 12 million Instagram followers, meaning she'll only have more cash coming in next year. 

The Girl Who Launched a Thousand Hair Cuts: Cara Taylor

Cara Taylor and her game-changing chop. Photo: @cara_taylorrr/Instagram

Cara Taylor and her game-changing chop. Photo: @cara_taylorrr/Instagram

Model Cara Taylor may have gotten her career-defining chop at Prada's Spring 2017 fashion show all the way in September of 2016, but the momentum clearly carried her through the New Year. On top of becoming one of the year's most in-demand face, Taylor and her chop quickly became 2017's coolest haircut, inspiring more than one Fashionista editor to take a pair of scissors to their hair. 

The Girl Who Became an Instant Supermodel: Kaia Gerber

Kaia Gerber and her mom, Cindy Crawford. Clearly, there's no resemblance. Photo: @kaiagerber/Instagram

Kaia Gerber and her mom, Cindy Crawford. Clearly, there's no resemblance. Photo: @kaiagerber/Instagram

As the daughter of Cindy Crawford, it's not like Kaia Gerber needed a ton of help becoming an in-demand model. But as soon as Gerber turned 16 — the age at which her parents agreed she could officially start modeling — she became one of the industry's most in-demand faces, walking everything from Alexander Wang to Chanel. Not that we're complaining; everyone at Fashionista has fallen in love with Gerber's unique runway walk. Here's to seeing her bop around more in 2018.

The Girl Who Had the Most Fun: Dilone

Seriously, go follow Dilone on Instagram right now. Photo: @_dilone/Instagram

Seriously, go follow Dilone on Instagram right now. Photo: @_dilone/Instagram

If you don't follow Dilone on Instagram, dear God are you missing out. Whether it was a brilliantly-funny announcement that she would be walking the Victoria's Secret runway or hilarious candid street style shots, Dilone was living proof that fashion doesn't have to be so damn serious all the time. We're looking forward to seeing her antics in our feed in 2018.

The Girl Who Was Unafraid to Speak Up: Teddy Quinlivan

Teddy Quinlivan also invented red hair this year, for the record. Photo: @teddy_quinlivan/Instagram

Teddy Quinlivan also invented red hair this year, for the record. Photo: @teddy_quinlivan/Instagram

It's been one hell of a year for most Americans, but the LGBTQ+ community has taken an especially hard hit under the Trump administration. That's why model Teddy Quinlivan decided that this September was the right time to come out as transgender and become an activist for her community. She certainly didn't need the boost — discovered by Nicolas Ghesquière in 2015, Quinlivan had steady work in both runway and editorial — but she had gained the most new followers of any model on Instagram by the end of the Spring 2018 season. Hey, if it gives her an even bigger audience, we're all the better for it.

The Girl You Saw Literally Everywhere: Bella Hadid

The body that defined 2017. Photo: @bellahadid/Instagram

The body that defined 2017. Photo: @bellahadid/Instagram

No, you weren't imagining things: You almost definitely saw Bella Hadid everywhere you went this year. Besides the fact that she became an internet-wide meme after a Complex video, Hadid starred in ad campaigns for Dior Beauty, Bvlgari, Alexander Wang, MaxMara, Nars, DKNY and Giuseppe Zanotti, to name a few; walked runways for just about every major label, including Chanel, Versace and Oscar de la Renta; and scored, somewhat incredibly, 30 magazine covers in 2017 alone. She may just be one of the hardest-working models in the business — which is to say, if homegirl ever takes a vacation, then it's quiet. 

The Girl Who Proved She's Made of Stronger Stuff

Aya Jones on set. Photo: @iamayajones/Instagram

Aya Jones on set. Photo: @iamayajones/Instagram

We wondered where model Aya Jones was hiding when we noticed she had been absent from the runways for a few seasons. When she made her comeback during the Spring 2018 season, walking for brands like Off-White and Marc Jacobs, we were just happy to see her around. Then she opened up to Vogue about the terrifying accident that nearly killed her; a speedboat collided with her jet ski, landing her in hard recovery for nearly a year. Jones's inspiring story of personal strength makes her comeback all the sweeter.

The New Girl Who Stole the Show: Duckie Thot

Duckie Thot slaying some Burberry. Photo: @duckieofficial/Instagram

Duckie Thot slaying some Burberry. Photo: @duckieofficial/Instagram

Officially speaking, Duckie Thot made her debut in the Spring 2017 season. In 2017, though, she really hit her stride and one-upped even the most established models on the way. She was one of the standouts in the 2018 Pirelli calendar, kicked ass on the Fenty Puma runway and nearly upstaged Rihanna in her own Paper Magazine shoot. There's no way Thot isn't on her way to superstardom, and we're sure in 2018 she'll prove that this year was only the beginning.

The Girl Who Got the Coolest Jobs: Slick Woods

Slick Woods with pup Cleo. Photo: @slickwoods/Instagram

Slick Woods with pup Cleo. Photo: @slickwoods/Instagram

Sure, Slick Woods got plenty of blue chip work for brands like Moschino and Marc Jacobs. But we're envious of Woods because she consistently caught the attention of the coolest people in the industry — like Rihanna, who tapped Woods for both her Fenty Puma show and her Fenty Beauty ads. Her covers for Love Magazine and i-D were also standouts of 2017. Wherever Woods went, we wanted to follow. 

The Girl Who Became the Face of a Community: Hanne Gaby Odiele

Hanne Gaby Odiele before receiving the ARN Culture & Pride Alan Turing Color Award. Photo: @hannegabysees/Instagram

Hanne Gaby Odiele before receiving the ARN Culture & Pride Alan Turing Color Award. Photo: @hannegabysees/Instagram

We've been seeing Hanne Gaby Odiele's face on the runway and in editorials for years. But in January of this year, the longtime Alexander Wang muse made headlines for revealing that she had been born intersex. Odiele had genetic traits shared by some 1.7 percent of the population; she was born with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS), and had internal testicles for which she underwent surgery at a young age to remove. Ever since going public with this information, Odiele has served as a face for interACT Advocates for Intersex Youth and became possibly the most prominent name of the movement.

The Girl Who Scored the Most Coveted Cover of the Year: Adwoa Aboah

Adwoa Aboah with "British Vogue" editor-in-chief Edward Enninful. Photo: @adwoaaboah/Instagram

Adwoa Aboah with "British Vogue" editor-in-chief Edward Enninful. Photo: @adwoaaboah/Instagram

When it was announced that beloved fashion editor Edward Enninful would be taking up the reins at British Vogue, the entire industry waited with baited breath to see what his vision of the heritage glossy would look like — and who would cover its first issue. Chosen to usher in the new era of Vogue was fittingly model and activist Adwoa Aboah, who was a breath of cover star fresh air. It was just one more accolade in a long string of successes for Aboah, whose winning streak will likely continue into 2018 and beyond.

The Girl Who Reinvented What a Supermodel Looks Like: Ashley Graham

Ashley Graham on the phone with whomever is standing in her way telling them to get in line. Photo: @theashleygraham/Instagram

Ashley Graham on the phone with whomever is standing in her way telling them to get in line. Photo: @theashleygraham/Instagram

Let's see: There were the Vogue covers and editorials, the runways of Prabal Gurung and Michael Kors, Time's 100 Most Influential list and a best-selling book. Was there anything Ashley Graham didn't conquer in 2017? If there is, we're sure she'll handle it in 2018. After all, Graham has a body that just won't quit, and an attitude to match. She's proving that supermodel doesn't have to mean a size 2 — and thank God for that.

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