Big hair, big hoops and big on glitz, the Eighties were defined by over-the-top glamour but ruled by the 'Big Six'. No catwalk show or fashion editorial was complete without the gracing faces of Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista and Kate Moss. The ubiquitous six that make up an exclusive order of original 'supermodel' babes epitomised conventional beauty and achieved first-name status in households across the globe. But their reign over the fashion industry soon came to a halt and by the mid-1990s, the era of the supermodel was over. Now, 20 years since Moss was discovered in New York's JFK Airport, the supermodels are set to return. When this month's autumn/winter fashion issues hit the stands and the season's new high-fashion campaigns are officially unveiled, readers might find themselves caught in a time warp. American bombshell Stephanie Seymour plays dark and dangerous in Loewe's new campaign shot by Steven Meisel, Eva Herzigova shows off Marc Jacob's latest for Louis Vuitton, Evangelista is adorned in Prada's swiss couture lace, Turlington is impeccably chic for Escada, and a brunette Schiffer reprises her 1992 role as the face of Chanel. All this is a far cry from the Jennifer Lopezs and Lindsay Lohans of seasons past. So why the sudden change in sponsorship? It was the shifting fashions of the Nineties, as well as the 'I won't get out of bed for less than US$10,000 a day' diva demands, that led to the demise of the supermodels and opened the doors to the world of the celebrity cover. Fashion was moving away from the flash and brash to a quieter aesthetic. Designers opted for models that suited the new look and so as fashion changed, so did the faces. Slowly, the high cheekbones and perfectly symmetrical features of the supermodel era were replaced by a generation of unique and slightly off-kilter (Karen Elson, Gemma Ward, Lily Cole). And then again by a plethora of Eastern European (Natalia Vodianova, Karolina Kurkova) and Brazilian faces (Gisele Bundchen, Adriana Lima). While these models were hot commodities, none, bar Bundchen, would have been recognised walking down the street. They did not have the celebrity pull that Crawford or Campbell had in their heyday. By the late 1990s, celebrity belonged to those on the big screen. As Hollywood took over, the red carpet became more influential than the catwalk. Tabloid magazines and online gossip sites would dedicate sections especially to celebrity fashion giving designers more coverage than ever, prompting magazine editors and fashion houses to bump models from their seasonal campaigns and covers in favour of 'It-girls'. But how many more times can we hear about so-and-so's drug abuse and however will it affect her million-dollar fashion campaign? Or even perhaps so-and-so's political diatribe that may or may not affect her million-dollar beauty deal. Actresses, apparently, can be a bit of a liability, although this is not the sole reason for reverting to familiar faces. Despite the reported growth in earnings for luxury goods houses this past quarter, fashion brands are smartening up and re-assessing their target consumers. Scarlett Johansson may appeal to women in their twenties, but the likes of Schiffer and Seymour will grab the attention of the generations above, and with it, attract much-needed purchasing power. After all, women in their fifties and late forties may share an affinity with them, as they were busy forging careers and starting families when the supermodels were not yet so super. Ivan Bart, senior vice-president of IMG Models in New York, says: 'In a downturn economy, companies want to engage a spokesperson that drives the business. Despite their age, the supermodels have taken care of themselves. There is more information available on health and beauty today so women have more opportunities to look good. These models inspire that. They will guarantee these luxury brands sales.' There is also something to be said about being an original; it gives you premium rights to an untouchable status. And though the Supers have flitted in and out of vogue during the past two decades, they remain as strong and iconic as ever. On working with Schiffer, Karl Lagerfeld said: 'She's better now than when she was 20, she is a miracle of nature. Those girls are miracles of nature.'