How 14 Female Supermodels Were Discovered

Model scouts find models in the most unlikely places

Ever wondered how the world’s most famous models got started in the modeling industry? The answers may surprise you! From chowing down on Big Macs to dancing the Irish jig, here are some of the best model discovery stories.

1
Coco Rocha

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Coco Rocha

Before she became the “Queen of Posing,” Coco Rocha was a lanky 14-year-old at an Irish dance competition. Vancouver-based agent Charles Stuart, whose daughter was also dancing in the competition, noticed Coco and told her she should give modeling a try. It took a whole year of convincing, but she finally agreed. And that’s a good thing because it’s hard to imagine a modeling industry without Coco Rocha! (Plus, she’s incredibly nice.) Perfection!

2
Gisele Bundchen

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Gisele Bundchen

The runway model and former Victoria’s Secret Angel was discovered in an unlikely place (more unlikely than an Irish dance competition, if you can believe it). A scout spotted 14-year-old Gisele at a Sao Paulo McDonald’s, eating a Big Mac. 

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3
Karlie Kloss

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Karlie Kloss

This Vogue covergirl and runway superstar was discovered at a charity fashion show in a mall in St. Louis. Even though she was only 13, her cat-like walk caught the eye of Mary and Jeff Clarke from Mother Model Management. As Mary later said about her discovery, “She was a baby. But she had that walk. We didn’t want to change a thing."

4
Alessandra Ambrosio

Alessandra Ambrosio
Alessandra Ambrosio

Alessandro began her career when she enrolled in modeling classes at the age of 12. After completing her classes she entered modeling competitions, and at the age of 14, she was a finalist in the Elite Model Look competition when helped her get her modeling career started on an international level.

5
Behati Prinsloo

Behati Prinsloo Model
Behati Prinsloo/Victoria's Secret

Behati was on vacation in Cape Town when a man in a grocery store came up to her and asked if she was a model. The man gave her his phone number but Behati never followed up, thinking it was shady. Later, during another trip to Cape Town, Noelle Doukas, daughter of Sarah Doukas, founder of Storm Models London, approached her and asked her to come into the agency. After awhile she finally went in and Sarah signed her right away. Behati is married to rock star Adam Levine.

6
Jourdan Dunn

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Jourdan Dunn

In 2006, London-born Jourdan was discovered by a Storm scout in a local Primark while shopping with a friend. It didn’t take her long to make a name for herself in the modeling world—that same year, she walked for the likes of Marc Jacobs and Polo Ralph Lauren in New York, and just a year later British Vogue featured her as a “New Star.”

7
Miranda Kerr

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Miranda Kerr

Miranda entered and won a modeling contest for Dolly Magazine when she was 13 years old.  She later moved to Brisbane to finish school and was able to land a modeling job for Billabong.  The rest, as they say, is history.

8
Doutzen Kroes

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Doutzen Kroes

Doutzen got her start after she submitted her snapshots to an agency. Thinking she might be able to make a little extra money, she was signed immediately. Her big break happened when photographer Steven Meisel shot her for the cover of Vogue Italia.

9
Lily Cole

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Lily Cole

This English stunner was out for a hamburger with friends when Benjamin Hart, a British model and scout, spotted her. At first alarmed by Hart’s “dodgy enthusiasm,” she later changed her mind and went ahead with a photo shoot. She was soon signed by Storm, the same agency who has forged the careers of Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford, Behati Prinsloo, Sophie Dahl, and more.

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10
Cindy Crawford

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Cindy Crawford

Cindy Crawford was pollinating corn on a farm in Illinois when a local newspaper photographer snapped her picture. The response to the photo was so overwhelmingly positive that it gave Crawford the confidence to enter John Casablanca’s “Look of the Year Contest,” which launched her career.

11
Linda Evangelista

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Linda Evangelista

This Canadian supermodel was discovered at a Miss Niagara Teen Contest. Even though she didn’t win, she caught the eye of an Elite scout, who handed her his card. She had graduated early from high school and didn’t have much to do before college, so she gave him a call. She signed with Elite Models New York and a month later moved to Paris, where a shoot with French Vogue launched her career.

12
Kate Moss

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Playboy Magazine

This story has become modeling legend: Kate Moss was discovered by the founder of Storm Model Management, Sarah Doukas, at JFK Airport. Moss was just 14 at the time and was simply on her way home from a family vacation in the Bahamas.

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13
Alek Wek

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Alek Wek

Born in Sudan, Alek was forced to flee the country in 1991 to escape the north-south civil war. She arrived in London at the age of 14 and was discovered a few years later at an outdoor market. She caught the attention of the fashion industry when she appeared in the music video for “Goldeneye” by Tina Turner  and shot to stardom after gracing the cover of Elle magazine. 

14
Naomi Campbell

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Naomi Campbell

Before becoming one of the most famous supermodels of all time, Naomi Campbell was featured in a Bob Marley music video and even tap-danced in a Culture Club music video. At the age of 15, a scout spotted her shopping in Covent Garden. Naomi’s career quickly took off—she appeared on the cover of British Elle when she was only 16!