How the five highest-paid models in 2021 made their money, from Gigi Hadid to Adriana Lima

Forget outdated ideas of modelling being a no-hope job; it is making these women millionaires

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Bella Hadid has been named as the new face of Swarovski jewellery meaning the Palestinian-American model can add another high-profile brand to her already impressive list of contracts.

While both parties are remaining tight lipped on how much money the deal is worth, as a famous face with 51.8 million Instagram followers, it is sure to be worth a pretty penny..

Despite the age-old cliche of modelling being a "brainless" pastime, in reality, it can be very lucrative with big-name models regularly picking up six-figure sums to head up a brand, resulting in net earnings that run into tens of millions of dollars. To give an idea of how much the top models actually earn, here are the five who earned the most over the past 12 months.

5. Gigi Hadid, $9 million

US model Gigi Hadid arrives for the 2022 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2022, in New York. Photo  AFP

Bella's older sister Gigi has an estimated personal wealth of $29m, and has earned her money from fashion shows, a Maybelline campaign and being a Victoria’s Secret Angel, a gig that pulled in up to $1m per year.

Gigi has graced multiple magazine covers, and is go-to in the industry. In 2016, she was named International Model of the Year by the British Fashion Council, and has since gone on to work with Guess, Tom Ford, Balmain, Missoni, Moschino and Isabel Marant.

That same year she collaborated on a clothing line with Tommy Hilfiger, and last month announced that her own clothing line will be unveiled soon. She is also taking on television work, and later this year will be co-host on Queer Eye. She is estimated to have earned $9m in 2021.

4. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, $9 million

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley on the autumn winter 2010 runway, for Louis Vuitton. Photo: Louis Vuitton

The British model has an estimated fortune of $30m, built up from modelling and her long-running lingerie line with Marks & Spencers. The partnership has now expanded to cover perfume and swimwear.

While pregnant with her first child, Huntington-Whiteley also launched her own beauty line called Rose Inc, meaning that in addition to modelling for names such as Ralph Lauren and Bloomingdales, she is thought to earn in the region of $9m per year.

3. Cara Delevingne, $19 million

British model Cara Delevingne arrives for the 2022 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2022, in New York. Photo AFP

The English model-turned-actress is a wealthy woman with more than $37m in the bank. Since signing with Storm Management in 2009, Delevingne has worked with many high-profile brands, including Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, and Louis Vuitton, and was named Model of the Year at the British Fashion Awards in 2012 and 2014.

In 2012, she branched out into acting, and has appeared in Suicide Squad and Valerian, among others. While Delevingne is more focused on acting than modelling these days, contracts with Tag Heuer, Burberry and YSL Beauty mean her earnings last year were more than $19m.

2. Adriana Lima, $30 million

Brazilian top model Adriana Lima poses on the red carpet for the opening gala of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, on September 25, 2021. Photo EPA

The Brazilian model is thought to be worth $95m, with much of that coming from her long-running contract with Victoria’s Secret, between 1999 and 2018.

In 2015 and 2016, she was named by Forbes as the second-highest-paid model, much of which came from being ambassador to Puma, Maybelline, and IWC watches. In the past year, Lima earned just short of $30m.

1. Kendall Jenner, $40 million

The highest-earning model of 2022, Kendall Jenner, arriving at The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala May 2, 2022, New York. AP

Although born into a wealthy family, Jenner, 26, has now earned more than enough on her own, and is worth a rumoured $45m. In 2018, Forbes first named her the "world's highest-paid supermodel," citing earnings that year alone of $22.5m, a status not damaged by the disastrous Pepsi ad the year before, that was so slammed, the company withdrew it.

As famous off the runway as on it, much of Jenner’s fortune has come from endorsements such as Marc Jacobs, Fendi and Estee Lauder, and, of course, her social media posts. With more than 200 million followers, Jenner charges up to $700,000 per post. In the past year, she has earned a reported $40m, making her the highest-paid model for the third year running.

Updated: May 13, 2022, 4:13 AM