Christy Turlington Burns Embraces the Present

Photographs by Michael Thompson
Styled by Sara Moonves
Interview by Jenny Comita

Christy Turlington Burnes in a beige and red dress on the cover of W Magazine's 50th anniversary iss...
Christy Turlington Burns wears a custom Loewe dress.

The 50th Anniversary Issue of W is an all-out supermodel celebration featuring 17 cover stars ranging from the world’s most famous names to women who are well on their way to total fashion domination. See every cover model here and read Jenny Comita’s essay about the evolution of the beauty standards that define the industry here.

You’ve been modeling for nearly four decades now. What is a lesson you learned the hard way when you were first starting out?

Early in my career, I signed an exclusive contract with Calvin Klein. It was the launch of a fragrance, Eternity, that I still work for. It was a big moment because I’d moved to New York and decided I was going to be living here as an independent person. I was 19, and it felt exciting and prestigious, but I wasn’t really ready for that yet. It was almost like an old Hollywood studio system type contract. I couldn’t work with any other designers, and I missed the range of people that I had had the good fortune of working with before that time. It was lonely. After a couple of years, I was able to renegotiate, to be out there working with other designers and photographers again.

Louis Vuitton coat, sweater, and pants.

Miu Miu jacket, sweater, shorts, belts, socks, and shoes; Cartier earrings and necklace.


Was it a pretty seamless return?

I remember the fun of going back in after having it taken away for a short time and getting to work with Michael Thompson, Steven Meisel, and Patrick [Demarchelier]. All the people that I had grown up with. By that time, it was, like, 1990, and the moment of the supermodel was happening. Some of us did the video for George Michael’s ‘Freedom ’90’ and came out on the Versace runway lip-synching the song. The excitement was great for a couple of years—until I was burned out and really ready to go. People forget that there’s a fair amount of theater to fashion. It’s not necessarily a reflection of reality.

Bottega Veneta tank top, jeans, earrings, and shoes.

The Row tank top, sweater, turtleneck, skirt, and shoes; Cartier earrings and bracelets.

Prada jacket, tank top, and skirt.

The photographer Michael Thompson is responsible for many of W’s most recognizable images from the 1990s and early aughts. For this issue, he reunited with Christy Turlington Burns, Amber Valletta, and Shalom Harlow for a shoot that embodies his playful, minimalist style and showcases the rebellious spirit that unites all three models.

Senior style editor: Allia Alliata di Montereale. Hair by Eugene Souleiman at Streeters; makeup by James Kaliardos at the Wall Group; manicure by Yuko Tsuchihashi for Chanel Le Vernis at Susan Price NYC. Set design by Set Shop. Christy Turlington Burns at Jacobson Brand Management. Casting by Michelle Lee at Michelle Lee Casting.

Produced by Lola Productions; production manager: Tucker Birbilis; production coordinator: Hannah Westbrook; photo assistants: Shinobu Mochizuki, Sam Kang; digital technician: Roy Beeson; retouching: Timothy Sexton/SelecaoNYC; fashion assistants: Julia McClatchy, India Reed, Natalya Clarke; production assistant: Michael Lighston; hair assistants: Christine Moore, Anastasiia Milyaeva; makeup assistants: Aimi Osada, Cyler Daigle; tailor: Lindsay Wright