– By Leena Sanzgiri –

When Vogue put the most in-demand newcomer models on the cover of its May 2007 issue, the article was not simply positioned as a career launchpad for the freshest faces of the season. Rather, there was an undercurrent of nostalgic reference to the oft-cited ’90s heyday of the “Supers,” the powerhouse household names that not only coined the term supermodel, but also awed the world with their single-name-only-needed brand of fascinating celebrity (Cindy, Christy, Linda, Naomi, to name a few). There is often talk in the fashion community that today’s girls don’t have the same commanding presence and longevity.

I’ve always found this assertion to be largely unfair, and more importantly, much more symptomatic of the growing impatience of a restless audience. In a digital age where limitless information is readily available to any fashion-inclined individual, the pace at which the general public is able to track, identify, and “move on” from the freshest faces of the season is unprecedented. Already there is talk of “Who will be the next Arizona?”, when the reality is that Miss Muse’s big break came only a few seasons ago.

What has consequently happened for today’s true supermodel is that she does not merely have to be the face of a prominent campaign to become recognized—a large portion of her brand value can be generated based on her own street style that legions of bloggers will capture and relay to build her a sizeable followership. She is as recognizable for her taste and favored designers as she is for her looks.

With that in mind, then, we give you the five most exciting faces from this past year in fashion—girls who intrigue us not only for their commanding runway walk, but for their ability to walk off-duty with confident, urban style. Supermodels in the making, super-intriguing in the moment.

Name: Nadja Bender.  Hails from: Denmark

There’s not much more a model can do to establish her coolness factor than open for both Alexander Wang and Rodarte, a feat achieved by Bender in FW 2012. The classic Danish beauty, now the face of the Gucci Pre-Fall 2012 print campaign, favors pairing casual denim with layered structured coats when off the clock.

Name: Lina Zhang              Hails from: China

SS’ 2012 proved a big season for Zhang, who walked the likes of Band of Outsiders, Helmut Lang, and Cynthia Rowley. With her graceful innocence and doll-like features, she effortlessly bridges glamour and youth by pairing luxe, feminine dresses with mannish coats and structured handbags.

Name: Lara Mullen            Hails from: The UK

The next British model sensation can largely be gauged by the face of the TopShop campaign; Mullen was the chosen one in Spring 2012. The blue-eyed beauty famously had never worn heels before she hit it big, but today assertively rocks the quintessentially British mix of rocker chic plus schoolgirl quirkiness.

Name: Cora Emmanuel    Hails from: France

Emmanuel has the coveted dual appeal in modeling—the ability to segue from the highest-end runways to mass market advertisements for Target and Levi’s. The regal stunner reluctantly fell into modeling at her mother’s encouragement, but there’s nothing reluctant about how she embodies French-girl cool.

Name: Kati Nescher         Hails from: Germany

The face of the Louis Vuitton, McQ by Alexander McQueen, and Pringle of Scotland spring ad campaigns, Nescher was the It girl in Paris for Spring 2012 and is now a runway favorite of Chanel, Altuzarra, and Marc Jacobs. In her downtime, the yummy mummy favors wearing luxe layers of black that exude urban sophistication.

Leena Sanzgiri is a Manhattan-based management consultant from Dubai, where she grew up loving fashion, art, music, and theater. She strives to balance writing, traveling, cooking, painting, socializing, and hunting for vintage finds with watching abnormal amounts of reality television. Stay tuned for her forthcoming personal blog and for more posts on, or follow her on Twitter: @leenasanzgiri

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