Writer Christopher Niquet started collecting models’ autographs after running into Peggy Moffitt at a party in L.A. one night. He was working with Karl Lagerfeld as a stylist at the time, and he never asked for autographs. But when he saw Moffitt, he couldn’t help it. Niquet has now spent years collecting signed photographs from the fashion industry’s most influential models, including Cindy Crawford, China Machado, and Pat Cleveland. His new book Models Matter, out April 25 from Damiani, showcases the collection and features an introduction by photographer Steven Meisel.
The tome juxtaposes the photos with stories from fashion insiders, who each explain why a certain image resonates with them. For one photo of Alek Wek, Niquet turned to Lupita Nyong’o. “I asked her because I knew she’d done a speech around the time of her Oscar win, where she talked about how seeing the face of Alek Wek in magazines as a teenager really helped her accept her type of blackness, which really wasn’t represented at the time,” he said. Others share memories alongside photos of Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, and Jean Shrimpton.
Niquet said it was important to have the book showcase not just easily recognizable models like Twiggy and Cindy Crawford, but to also feature lesser-known models who left their own mark on the industry. He likened this to times when he worked as stylist and looked to models’ faces on billboards for inspiration, rarely being able to identify exactly who the model was. “If we don’t tell their stories, no one is going to know about them.” Click ahead to see shots and autographs of Pat Cleveland, China Machado, Alek Wek, Peggy Moffitt, Stella Tennant, and others.