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Naomi Campbell iconic runway walk

Slay the runway: these are the most iconic model walks of all time

Do not @ us

Right now, it seems like everybody’s talking about Leon Dame: the model who strode… no, waded… no, jolted… no, contorted down the runway at the Margiela show in Paris two days ago. Shooting Edward Enninful a crazed look, going viral on social media, and, according to many a shocked source, actually making Anna Wintour smile, Dame is fashion’s new walking wonder. 

This isn’t the first time Margiela has, to quote Marie Kondo, sparked joy. Cast your mind back to 2015 and you might recall the half-walking, half-running models that graced its runway, who subsequently ended up at the centre of countless memes about gays on their way to get iced coffee (iconic, tbh). But what is it about these walks that excites us so much, that cracks the lips of even the most steely editors?

Really, it’s because we’re all narcissistic attention seekers, and we’re all secretly desperate to pace those catwalks ourselves: we want to bounce like Gisele, create wind like Tyra, to make Anna Wintour (almost) lol like Leon. But what does it take to go down in the history books as someone who could walk really, really well? Here, we aim to find out, and, in the process, provide you with a little inspiration, as we narrow down the ten must-imitate walks of all time. From Naomi and Teddy, to Tyra and Devon, get ready world: because here they are.

NAOMI CAMPBELL 

If Naomi’s walk could talk it would say “fucking move bitch”. If Naomi’s walk were a season, it would be hurricane season. If Naomi’s walk were a former head of state it would be Beyoncé. Because when you see Naomi’s walk you see true power, and the world and its ills are for a moment forgotten, and you’re sucked into what can only be described as a Naomi-high: one filled with glory, beauty, power, a thrown mobile phone, and pure, unbridled talent. 

TYRA BANKS

As progenitor of ‘create your own wind’ and ‘smize’, mother of America’s Next Top Model, and author of critically absurd novel Modelland, Tyra’s walk truly could not have been anything other than one for the ages. Watch carefully as she twirls lightness and brightness onto the runway – smizing so hard she might, indeed, melt your entire body were you to make direct eye contact with her. But then, with a runway coach extraordinaire like Miss Jay Alexander, how could she not steal the show every damn time?

ANNA CLEVELAND

As the daughter of bonafide legend PatAnna is what happens when you live a life amidst fashion and unbridled glamour. Her dedication to the art of the dramatic walk is something which both exalts fashion, and makes any other fashion model look like they’re basically on a comedown after a heavy weekend. Whether Gaultier or at the couturier, Anna consistently serves up high-glamour-drama-to-the-point-of-near-heart-attack – like a little lamb inside a swan’s body. J’adore.

SOPHIE DAHL

Remember in 1997 when Sophie Dahl walked the runway and sent shockwaves through the industry because she was literally a size 12? Well, we’ve come a long way, as evidenced by her then quote in the Independent: “my grandma thinks I’m grotesque.” But we don’t. Instead we stan a queen who strode down the runway with more might and light than her heroin chic counterparts could have ever conveyed at the time. The poster girl for happiness, her short stint as top model still inspires today. 

DEVON AOKI

Literally choke me Devon Aoki. Known as the shortest model to ever walk Chanel, Devon let nothing stop her from reaching the dizzying heights of being fashion’s biggest and most iconic, as she stormed down the runway demonstrating the kind of resting bitch face that would put Medusa to shame. Her grace, mixed with her brilliantly brutal presence, meant she could carry off an ankle-wrap cork wedge, or an entirely sheer black number at Jeremy Scott. Eyes down, head rolling, limbs often akimbo, Aoki rarely (if ever) gave a shit – and fashion could not help but stan.

BASICALLY EVERYONE AT VAQUERA

As Camille said in season two of ANTM, “This is my signature walk and this is the walk that’s gonna make me famous,” – seemingly, Vaquera were watching, given season after season their cast of NY cool kids trudge down the runway, dramatically mocking the kind of stiff, dead-behind-the-eyes runway walks we’ve all come to know and love (well, know). Like all New Yorkers, these people have places to be – though where those places are we have no idea.

GISELE 

The Bounce is a hard walk to pull off, unless you’re fashion royalty like Gisele. That bounce has taken her across the world, onto every cover, to every runway ever. If you watch closely, it’s all about the hips and the hair – when the hip swings right, literally every hair on her head bounces in rhythm. Her walk is more like a dance, a dance which strikes both fear and shivers of pure joy in the hearts of baby models and fashion gays everywhere.

VERONICA WEBB

Unlike Gisele, Veronica Webb is all about the fluidity – arms static, head matching the gait of her hips, rolling about. An oft-overlooked 90s superstar, Webb’s end of runway pose is one for the headlines: bam, turn, bam, turn again, look at the photographers, change the hair, bam, turn, then saunter off and Make! Them! Watch! 

PAT CLEVELAND

Pat Cleveland rose to fame in the 60s, as one of the first African American supermodels to grace the global runways. With an intense gait, and high octane energy, Pat’s twirls and swirls would make even the most fashion-cynical scream with orgasmic glee. Less of a walk and more of a dance, Pat attains pure Fashion Darling status. I mean, just Google it: ‘Pat Cleveland, Runway Dance’ and stare agog as she literally matadors down the runway at a range of ages and intensities. This is the fashion you dreamed of when you were alone in your room in Lancaster, carefully framing a small Harvey Nichols carrier bag so that people would think you were really chic — a word which you used to pronounce ‘chick’.

TEDDY QUINLIVAN

Already a runway legend at the tender age of baby, the trick to Teddy Quinlivan’s power walk is all in the eyes. Chin down, just a touch, and look ahead is if your dreams are at the end of the runway and only you can take them and only you take them by snapping the knee, staring directly at them, as you batter the runway with your heeled foot. Whether at Louis Vuitton, or clapping back at haters trying to grab her hat in the street, Teddy’s walk is all about it intensity, focus, and drive. Get it Teddy, get it.