A milestone birthday rapidly approaches for Cindy Crawford.
Can the iconic supermodel really be almost old enough for AARP membership?
Crawford hits the Big 5-0 on Feb. 20. But instead of dreading what’s only a whisper away, she is embracing it. Seems to be as good a time as any, she reasons, to reflect on her life and career.
In her just-published book, Becoming (Rizzoli, $50), Crawford takes stock of the journey she has made.
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I’ve really enjoyed learning and honing my craft and getting better at it over the years. I am so much better as a model today than I was at 20.
Before she became the face on countless magazine covers, she was a small-town Illinois teen making modest steps in the world of modeling. In her first professional gig, she wore “some kind of Cross Your Heart bra” for a Marshall Field’s print ad that ran in a Chicago newspaper. She was paid $150.
“It’s not lost on me how far I’ve come,” says Crawford, whose book tour brings her to Dallas on Friday. “I’ve been grateful every step of the way.”
Her 256-page book is an elegant blend of words and images. It’s more than just a coffee-table collection of photos but not quite a full-on autobiography.
“The original idea was to celebrate turning 50 with a book of 50 iconic pictures married to 50 essays,” Crawford says. “The images would celebrate my career as a model and the essays would share some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.”
The 50-50-50 theme ultimately was abandoned, but only in a more-is-better way.
“We now have 150 photos,” she says.
How can you assess the career of Cindy Crawford with anything less? She is one of the most photographed women in the world. The book would be incomplete without the visual evidence.
There’s truth to the saying that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ because there’s a story — often an interesting one — behind the making of every one of those unforgettable photos.
Still, there’s more to Crawford than a spectacularly pretty face (and a trademark upper-lip mole). That’s why she decided against the conventional coffee-table-book packaging.
“I want people to actually read it,” she explains. “I have a few things to say that I think are worth sharing, lessons I’ve learned about taking chances, about knowing when and how to say no, about becoming a mother, about aging and what that means.
“I’m sure the first inclination will be just to flip through the pages and look at the images. But I hope that, now and then, someone will read some of the text that goes along with it.”
Becoming isn’t a how-to manual either, but it’s clear that aspiring models and fashion photographers could benefit from reading it.
There’s truth to the saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words” because there’s a story — often an interesting one — behind the making of every one of those unforgettable photos. They didn’t happen by happy accident. A lot of thought, effort and artistry went into making every nuance just right.
Regarding Crawford’s half of that equation, she says, “There is so much more to modeling than just being pretty or standing there. Obviously the package that I was given by God allowed me to enter the world of modeling. But there’s also a skill to modeling.
“I’ve really enjoyed learning and honing my craft and getting better at it over the years. I am so much better as a model today than I was at 20.”
As for the photographers, Crawford devotes more than a third of the book to the best of the best, who include Herb Ritts (who shot what became the cover photo), Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn and Arthur Elgort.
She says it is impossible to single out just one favorite photo. It’s hard even to narrow it down to a short list of favorites.
There’s a reason for every image in that book.
“The 150 in the book, that IS my short list,” Crawford says. “I wanted to have a lot of different photographers represented. I wanted some color, some black-and-white. In the end, there were still hundreds of pictures that I loved that didn’t make the book.
“Certainly, I loved the fact that the Herb Ritts image is on the cover. I felt there is a timeless quality to that one. It’s iconic Cindy: a little bit sexy but not too sexy. That’s why we chose it for the cover. But I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite.
“Another that stands out for me is the George magazine cover where I’m dressed as George Washington. It’s not like, ‘Wow, I think I look beautiful in that.’ But I loved being part of the first edition of John Kennedy Jr.’s magazine — and it did get a lot of attention.
“There’s a reason for every image in that book.”
Crawford says she enjoyed every step of crafting Becoming (“the writing, the editing, the rewriting, selecting the photos, working with the design team”), but it was way more work than she expected.
“For a while, it was an all-consuming thing,” she says. “I think, as far as my husband and my kids are concerned, if they hear me say the words ‘my book’ one more time, they’re going to throw it at me.”
- By Cindy Crawford with Katherine O’Leary
- Rizzoli, $50
Meet the author
Crawford will meet fans and sign copies of Becoming at 11 a.m. Friday at Barnes & Noble in Dallas (7700 W. Northwest Hwy.).