The East End seems to be perpetually in its glory days. As we gaze back at 40 years of Hamptons, remarkably, not much has changed. The same can be said for the striking models who have graced our covers. Bikini-clad and beautiful on our pages decades ago, they’re still on their A-game, dazzling us with their genetic gifts and adding new projects, partnerships and family goals to their long lists of accomplishments. And just like back in the day, you still might find them lying on the beach out East, looking as photo-ready as ever...
Then: “I was in my 20s. I did several Hamptons covers in the 90s—1993, ’95 (below), ’97, and many stories and photographs over the years. [It was] always fun because we were spending time in the Hamptons. It also meant it was summertime! Never very serious, but it always felt important to be part of the Hamptons family. Seeing the cover was always an important moment.
“Looking back, I’ve realized I started out as just a model on the cover. Then in the years following I was considered a supermodel, then a personality, then an entrepreneur. How wonderful that it kept evolving.”
Now: “My company Frederique’s Choice, an online flower business, is still a big part of my life. I’m also working on developing a documentary, which will be a trip deep into the Amazon. I still occasionally work as a model. Actually, now that I say that, maybe we should do a cover again...”
On the Hamptons: “I love Springs—there’s something so real about that area—and a night organized by the Cinema Society under a full moon on the beach. There have been so many great spots over the years. Last year I played golf at Shinnecock—I needed to practice for a charity course—and I actually played really well. The pro was so impressed!”
Then: “I believe I was 26 or 27 for my first Hamptons cover (below, in 2002). My daughter Ming Lee was 1 year old, and I was pregnant with my second daughter, Aoki Lee, during the shoot. I’ll never forget how excited I was to be on the cover. It’s always a little bit of a challenge to shoot while you’re pregnant, but the creative team on set made sure I had everything I needed. They were great at keeping the energy up.
“I did [a few] other covers. I love the shot on the boat [from 2007]. A girl like me loves a nautical theme! It was great to be out on the water—what an amazing and fabulous backdrop! Part of me didn’t want the shoot to end. I just wanted to sail off with the crew like glam pirates...”
Now: “I’ve launched a number of brands and branched out more into television. I’ve also pivoted into the venture capital space with a portfolio of companies in the fashion and beauty spaces that I run and manage. We’ve recently branched out into tech and nutrition, as well. I have the Kimora Lee Simmons brand—a designer line available at Bloomingdale’s and Lord & Taylor, as well as a great network of specialty stores.
“My family has grown since the first shoot, that’s for sure. I have four beautiful children—two boys and two girls. And I recently graduated from college and got my degree!”
On the Hamptons: “These days, my favorite spots in the Hamptons are the beautiful homes of friends. [The area] has grown and there have been other shifts, but each time I go, I’m struck by how similar it seems. It has the same charm and great people with great hearts. The Hamptons always offers such a warm and welcoming experience. I look forward to being part of the community for years to come!”
Then: “My first cover was probably 1991 (below, at age 24)— I’ve done many covers, maybe six or more. [The shoots] were always fun and happy times with people I love very much. I believe Randy [Schindler] was the editor back then.”
Now: “I have my own [line of skincare] products in my name and I live in Oslo, Norway, [with my] two daughters, Julia and Hannah. I’m older and wiser. I have a series of wool and cashmere clothing for women coming out this fall called Vendela Wear. I also have a popular reality television series with my boyfriend, Petter Pilgaard [called Vendela + Petter] about our lives. We are starting season 2 this August. I’ve written books (Model Mummy and a series of beauty-tip books for Aschehoug publishing house). I love my life!”
On the Hamptons: “I always loved driving out to the Hamptons by car or on the Jitney with friends. I rented a house in East Hampton for many summers. I’d say East Hampton [is my favorite]. I haven’t been back for many years, [but] I would love to visit soon—maybe with the series Vendela + Petter! I would eat good food, visit friends, go to the beach and have a great time, as I used to many years ago.”
Then: “My first cover was in 1991, so I was 21 years old. The shoots happened relatively early in my career and I have been lucky to have a pretty good one. The Hamptons covers gave me great exposure. I went on to be a Victoria’s Secret Angel and had the honor of gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated. It was a very busy time in my life, often shooting two jobs in a day, working with some of the best people in the industry from photographers to hair and makeup artists and stylists.
“I always say that modeling has been the best thing that has happened to me. I was extremely shy and introverted as a young girl and teenager, and my beginnings in the industry were not easy. Suddenly I had to meet, speak, interact with complete strangers—something that was not easy for me. But for whatever reason, I survived and it made me better. It opened my eyes to new things, new cultures and, most importantly, it made me see myself differently.”
Now: “My kids are a project that takes up most of my time! I still model, and I am enjoying the time on set more than ever. I just signed on for a television project that I’m really excited about and will start filming soon.”
On the Hamptons: “The beaches have no rivals—the light, the mist; it’s truly the most soothing place on Earth. I love the farmers market in Westhampton. Sant Ambroeus in Southampton is a classic, and the Stone Creek Inn in East Quogue.”
Then: “I was 23 when I modeled for my first Hamptons cover in 1999. I was just super happy to do my first cover for [the magazine]. I was spending summer in the Hamptons for the first time and taking in what it really meant.
“I loved the shoot I did with the horses (below, in 2000). That was my favorite because of how much I love riding. The shoot in 2001 was right after having [my daughter] Maia, and all I could think of was looking skinny. I look at it now and think how crazy I was! Modeling does play tricks on your perception of yourself.
“Soon after [my first Hamptons shoot] I started working with Victoria’s Secret and became the first Latin American Angel. That was a pretty big gamechanger for me.”
Now: “Twenty years have gone by, so there has been a lot of evolution in my life! Modeling gives me an amazing opportunity to travel, meet great people, learn—it opened many doors for me. I’m currently working on a book/exhibition with photographer Frederic Pinet about how Miami is culturally expanding, and the community that’s part of that growth. I also recently joined the board of The Bass Museum of Art in Miami, specifically working in development.”
On the Hamptons: “The beaches have [always been my favorite], then and now. Of course the Hamptons have grown, with more amazing places to hang out. But somehow, I prefer things when they were simpler, smaller, less people.”
Then: “I remember how much fun we had [on set in 2004]. It was just like the photos (below)—fun, sexy, light and especially positive. I couldn’t believe how beautiful those pictures came out; the story is at the top of my list of beautiful photos.”
Now: “So much has changed. I’m an established actress. I’m the founder of Taya Beauty, currently sold at QVC worldwide. It’s a wonderful brand influenced by Amazonian traditions and ingredients from my indigenous communities and secret recipes from my family. I’m also a UNESCO ambassador, and my foundation, the Wayúu Taya Foundation, currently serves over 3,500 indigenous children and women, respecting their culture and beliefs in South America. I also wrote a popular book called Straight Walk, with the purpose of inspiring people to live their truth.
“I’m a mother (to daughter Maya), so my priorities have changed for sure. I’m definitely happier now. I’m pleased to see how my life has evolved. I have a big movie coming out in April, and I’m writing a television series and a movie right now.”
On the Hamptons: “I have a long tradition—one which I just love. My friend Omar (from Omar’s La Ranita restaurant in NYC) and I [always] go to Duryea’s in Montauk. The Hamptons continues to be a wonderful place. It never loses its essence. I love going there. It’s such a treat for anyone. It’s just a special place.”
Then: “I was 27 when I modeled for my first Hamptons cover (in 1992)—how much makeup I was wearing! I was feeling luscious! For the green dress cover (below, 2006), there were boob pads in the dress! Then for the Lipstick Jungle cover (in 2008), the dress was too small, and it was completely cut open in the back. I always had a fun and great experience on all the shoots, but I do feel like I’ve evolved into much more of myself through each one.”
Now: “I have a clothing line for QVC. I have been so fortunate to have steady work that I love, and hope to continue doing so. Since my last Hamptons cover shoot [in 2013], I wrote another book, There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me and am [acting in] Jane the Virgin. I’m involved with an organization called Win (Women In Need). I have also been doing speaking engagements, which I enjoy! My kids (Rowan, 15, and Grier, 12) are getting older and I have always been very much involved in their worlds. I love spending time with them and my husband.”
On the Hamptons: “I can’t get enough of the beach. I have always loved Sip’n Soda in Southampton, and now my kids love it too! The Hamptons are so much more crowded in the summer [than they used to be]— but better restaurants.”
Photography by: FREDERIQUE VAN DER WAL PHOTO BY MARGARETHA OLOSCHEWSKI & COVER BY EDDIE CELNICK; KIMORA LEE SIMMONS PHOTO BY NOAM GALAI/GETTY IMAGES & COVER BY KEITH LAHTROP; VENDELA KIRSEBOM PHOTO BY THOMAS QVALE & COVER BY FRANCESCO SCAVULLO; DANIELA PESTOVA PHOTO BY LUKAS KIMLICKA; PHOTO BY SEBASTIAN ARPESELLA; INES RIVERO COVER BY DIDIER GAULT; PATRICIA VELASQUEZ PHOTO BY MARTA ELENA VASSILAKIS, HAIR AND MAKEUP BY DORITES G NIZZANI USING ARBONNE COSMETICS & COVER BY DIDIER GAULT; BROOKE SHIELDS PHOTO BY JONATHAN PUSHNIK, COURTESY OF QVC & COVER BY ANDREW SOUTHAM