Beauty and aging discussed in HBO’s “About Face: Supermodels Then and Now”

HBO's "About Face: Supermodels Then and Now" culminates in a bi-coastal group photo shoot featuring more than a dozen of the world's top fashion models including Hansen, Marshall, Tiegs, Johnson, Taylor, Emerg, Alt, Bjornson, Haddon, Brinkley, Donahue, Alexis
Credit: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders/Courtesy of HBO

By Jay Bobbin

One thing is for sure: HBO has one of the most attractive documentaries of the year.

How could it be anything but, with such participants as Christie Brinkley, Cheryl Tiegs, Paulina Porizkova, Carol Alt, Beverly Johnson, Isabella Rossellini, Lisa Taylor, Marisa Berenson and Jerry Hall?

Those names should indicate that modeling is the subject. Indeed, About Face: Supermodels Then and Now (debuting Juy 30 at 9pm ET/PT) finds those women and other peers giving filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders (The Black List) their thoughts on their industry, their experiences in it, and its present and future as they see it.

“I got incredibly lucky,” Czechoslovakia native Porizkova says of her career. “The Flavor of the Moment is not up to me; it’s not even up to any individual. It just so happened that I had a face and a body and an attitude that worked at the time. I don’t think I would have worked very well, say, 20 years earlier or 10 years later.”

By the mid 1980s, Porizkova was a Sports Illustrated fixture, appearing on the swimsuit-issue cover twice. After scoring a big-paying Estée Lauder contract, she made People’s 50 Most Beautiful People list twice in the early ’90s. While she respects models who have come before and after her, she admits she doesn’t know many of them well.

“There’s sort of a timeline to modeling that all of us are aware of, whether the public is or not,” Porizkova reflects, adding that Brinkley and Tiegs “were the ones who were paving the road for me. Then it was me, and then it was Cindy [Crawford], so it kind of goes in a line.”

The wife of Cars frontman Ric Ocasek, Porizkova now is a novelist and blogger who parlayed her modeling fame into reality-show stints on America’s Next Top Model and Dancing With the Stars. She notes, “I wasn’t aware of the word ‘supermodel’ until probably Christie Brinkley. There’s no question there were plenty of supermodels before her; it’s just that the actual word wasn’t applied.”

Air dates for About Face: Supermodels Then and Now on HBO:
July 30 at 9pm ET/PT
Aug. 3 at 4:30pm ET/PT
Aug. 5 at 5:30pm ET/PT
Aug. 9 at 10:30am, 12:55am ET/PT
Aug. 11 at 1:45pm ET/PT
Aug. 14 at 2:45pm ET/PT
Aug. 27 at 5:15am ET/PT