Supermodels With Tattoos

This past weekend it was Eurovision time again, held this year in Turin following rock sensation Måneskin’s win in 2021. Of course, while we honour and salute Ukraine as the winners, (along with the unaccustomedly high scores for the UK!) our focus was drawn to fan favourite Damiano David and his obvious new ink. Last year’s winning group took to the stage towards the end of the evening as is tradition (its lead singer visibly bothered by a sprained ankle but performing through the pain like the rock star that he is).

We are yet to get a proper glimpse of the new body art of Damiano. However, the group performed their new single, Supermodel, produced by pop music legend Max Martin. This got us thinking about the relationship between fashion and tattoos, or, particularly, models with tattoos. Let’s take a look at some of the more famous and fashionable ones. 

The original girl with the dragon tattoo

Before body art became mainstream, a model called Eve Savail turned heads with her shaved head showing off a dragon tattoo. Deciding to get inked while on a trip to Japan at 18, she was then discovered by designer Jean-Paul Gaultier, who was responsible for her career skyrocketing in the 90s. Speaking to Vogue in 2016, Savail said 

”I spoke to my father, and I said, ‘I want to be the first model with a shaved head.’ He said, ‘Nah, Sinead O’Connor already did it; that’s kind of boring.’ My parents were artists, so they were bored with the idea. Then somehow I came up with the idea of a tattoo on my head and [my dad] was excited, so I got it.”

A back full of blackwork on the cover of Elle

Australian model Catherine McNeil has described herself as a ‘tattoo addict’. And she is gathering quite the collection. The substantial amount of work she has had done on her back was even on full display on the June cover of Elle Russia in 2020. It features blackwork motives of scorpions, pin-up girls, daggers, lizards, and the quote ‘Never look back in anger’ just below her neck. 

As far as models go, it is a very substantial collection, and the fact that Elle chose to feature it on its cover shows just how accepted and even celebrated the art form, along with individual expression, has become. Catherine has also worked for some of the biggest names in fashion, such as Prada and Dior, throughout her career. One of her more recent additions includes an inner lip tattoo inked by Marcus “Gummy” Johnston of Bondi Ink in her native Australia. 

Dunn’s collection

Capping off our list this time is Jourdan Dunn.  The British supermodel has acquired a relatively discreet but high-quality collection of ink. Her largest piece is a beautiful Phoenix by Aggy from Aggys Ink on her ribcage, but it also includes the Egyptian goddess Isis right below her neck, a hamsa symbol on her forearm, the phrase “You owe it to yourself to set the world on fire…” on her upper inner arm, as well as her son’s name, Riley, on her hand (her very first tattoo). Jourdan also has a matching tattoo with model colleague Cara Delevingne, a badge style “DD” placed just above the left hip. 

Body art is no longer only for tattoo models. As the custom grows and the art form becomes even more elaborate, we are bound to see more examples (some great quality, potentially some not) on models on runways and billboards alike, with models even being sought after for their ink. Let’s see what the next big campaign will be.