Paris has always been a power player in the fashion industry, producing groundbreaking French designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, and Coco Chanel. But these visionaries didn’t get their ideas from just anywhere — they looked to the women of their country for inspiration. From veteran Morgane Dubled and newcomer Thylane Blondeau, it’s no real surprise that French models are aspirational figures in the world of beauty.
But even in the fashion capital of the world, the rules of modeling are changing. Thanks to a new health initiative to protect women’s health, French models are now required to have a medical certificate confirming they’re healthy to discourage eating disorders and similarly unhealthy lifestyles. Just as often as models are discovered on the street, they’re being discovered online on Instagram and other social media sites. And instead of just using their fame to influence fashion, they’re using it to change the world.
We’ve compiled a list of our favorite French models — ones who have single-handedly influenced the fashion industry, who have defied beauty standards and shaped the way we view haute couture through their visions and work ethic. If nothing else, these French models will make you believe in the power of “French girl” style.
Here are some of the leading French models in today’s fashion industry:
Thylane Blondeau may only be 17 years old, but she’s no amateur among French models. She began modeling at the age of four, walking the runway for French designer Jean Paul Gaultier. By the age of 10, she was already dubbed “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World.” Since then, Blondeau has only thrived: She has a contract with IMG Models, works as a brand ambassador for L’Oreal Paris, and made her acting debut in Belle & Sebastian: The Adventure Continues. With 2.3 million Instagram followers, Thylane Blondeau is easily one of the most successful French models of her generation.
Ophelie Guillermand didn’t always want to be a model. She studied chemistry and molecular biology at a scientific high school in the French Alps before she was discovered by a photographer in Paris at age 17. After graduation, she decided to leave University to begin modeling full-time in New York City, and less than a year later, she was named one of the top five newcomers of the season. Since then, she’s joined a handful of her fellow French models walking for Calvin Klein, Chanel, Dior, Prada, and Versace, among other high fashion labels.
Aya Jones was discovered in her hometown of Paris by an agent who stopped her in the street. While she exclusively worked for Prada at the beginning of her career, she soon began working for other clients, including campaigns that focused on diversity and fighting the predominance of white workers in the industry. Her work ethic earned her a place on Vanity Fair’s list of the top 50 most influential French people in the world in 2015.
Camille Hurel was discovered when she entered a Paris’s Elite Model Look Contest in 2014, when she was only 16 years old. She was selected as one of the finalists, but she didn’t get her big modeling debut until a year later, when she finally walked the runway for Givenchy. Camille has since amassed over 50k followers on Instagram.
Morgane Dubled began modeling in 2001 when she was scouted by a top scout in Nice, France. At first, she only modeled part-time to help pay for medical school and university, but she soon left school to pursue modeling full-time. In the past decade, Morgane has spent her time focusing on her family and her personal life, opting to only walk for Paris Fashion Week.
It’s already impressive that Filippa Hamilton was scouted as a model at age 15, but she’s also quite literally royalty. Thanks to her father’s noble bloodline, the French model is technically a Swedish countess, though it’s not a title she flaunts too often. She is perhaps best known for speaking out about female beauty standards in modeling after Ralph Lauren photoshopped one of her photos to make her look impossibly small, then fired her for being “too fat.” While she still models professionally, Filippa now also divides her time between her family and her business, a designer towel line called Fina Plage.
Constance Jablonski is a dreamer — for nine years of her life, she wanted to be a professional tennis player, and even today she still dreams of being a world-famous pianist like Mozart or Chopin. For now, though, she’s just a world-renowned model, walking for some of the most celebrated designers in the fashion industry. After she was discovered in the 2006 French Elite Model Look Contest, she debuted at the fashion weeks in New York, Milan and Paris. The rest, as they say, is history.
Camille Rowe-Bel is definitely the cool girl of French models. She was discovered by a talent agent while she was attending the University of Paris, and while she’s walked for most of the major fashion labels (and has a special connection to Dior, who she hasn’t missed a show for since 2014), she’s also a Victoria’s Secret Angel and a Playmate for Playboy. Outside of her modeling career, she’s an activist for women’s rights and began raising awareness and money for cancer research after her boyfriend, professional skateboarder Dylan Rieder, passed away from leukemia. As of last year, she’s also become a professional actress, leading us to wonder: is there anything she can’t do?
Cindy Bruna is more than just a French model — she’s a trailblazer. As a woman of Italian and Congolese descent, she’s the first model of color to walk exclusively for Calvin Klein and the third model of color to be the face of a Prada campaign. Her influence even reaches outside of the fashion industry, where she’s involved with the Solidarité Femmes, an organization that combats violence against women.
At only 30 years old, Anaïs Mali is already a French fashion icon. After she was signed as a model in 2009, she blew up within a year, walking for some of the most ambitious designers and making the list of faces to watch. She walked in the 2011 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and was even featured in The Weeknd’s “M A N I A” music video. But even outside of modeling, Anaïs is blazing trails in the fashion industry as a designer of high-fashion body suits.
Sigrid Agren found herself on the fashion industry’s radar after she became one of the finalists for France’s Elite Model Look Contest in 2006, which took her to Shanghai for the final round. She immediately signed with Elite Model Management in Paris, though decided to put off modeling for a few years while she finished up school. Since then, she’s become the face of Prada and earned the title of “Industry Icon” by highly-regarded industry publications. While she’s recently spent less time modeling, Sigrid is still active online as a travel and lifestyle blogger.
Lily-Rose Depp may be well-known for being the daughter of actor Johnny Depp and actress Vanessa Paradis, but she’s definitely made a name for herself in the fashion industry. The 19-year-old French model became a Chanel ambassador at age 16 and has graced the cover of high fashion magazines such as Vogue. Aside from her modeling career, Lily-Rose already has a successful film career.
Estelle Chen may be of Chinese descent, but she’s been repping the French fashion industry since 2012, when she was first scouted by an agent. Within a year, she won the Elite Model Look Contest in France and represented her country in the international contest in China. Her personal career highlights have been Louis Vuitton’s resort shows and walking in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, and by the look of it, there’s a lot more where that came from.