Ever before the emergence of It-girls in today’s fashion scene like Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, and Bella Hadid, who promote their career with social media, there was a crop of models who rocked the ride in the 90’s and ruled the runways. Among them are Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, Christy Turlington, and of course, Niki Taylor.
Taylor, an American supermodel and television presenter sits well as one of the ubiquitous faces and most sought-after models in the ’90’s. From setting a world record as the youngest model to sign a six-figure deal to creating a fashion history by appearing on the covers of six major women’s fashion and fitness magazines dubbed the ‘Niki Six, here are 5 facts to know about the model phenomenon.
Niki Taylor’s Bio
It was in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on the 5th of March 1975 that Nicole Renee Taylor was born to Ken, a highway patrol lieutenant and Barbara Taylor, a photographer. She grew up in was raised in Pembroke Pines, Florida and attended Cooper City High School.
Growing up, Niki was this very tall girl with the looks and features just made for the runways and magazine covers. Thus, she glided to modeling and became established in the arena in no time.
Being the gorgeous daughter of a photographer has its advantages and Niki was a recipient of such. She was just debuting as a teenager when her mother took her first modeling photos which were in turn sent to local Fort Lauderdale modeling agencies with one, Irene Marie Models, eventually signing her.
At the age of 14, she appeared on her first magazine cover, an issue of Seventeen in August 1989. Following that, her career took off with an explosive speed and she became one of the most ubiquitous faces in the fashion industry throughout the ’90s—gracing countless runways and magazine covers such as Vogue, People, Marie Claire, Harpers Bazaar, Sports Illustrated.
In 1992, Niki Taylor became a feature in CoverGirl’s national advertising campaign and became their first spokesmodel younger than 18 to sign a major contract. Her other ad campaigns include ones for Thierry Mugler, Escada, Liz Claiborne, Jean Paul Gaultier, Versace, Versus, Anne Klein, L’Oréal, Gap, Lee Jeans, and Pantene.
Additionally, she achieved some milestones in her career and set some records which are yet to be beaten. She became the second youngest person after Brooke Shields to appear on the cover of Vogue at 15, the youngest person ever to be featured as one of People magazine’s Most Beautiful People at 16. Niki remains the only person to concurrently have six massive billboards in NYC’s Times Square including a year-long display of her image on the three Liz Claiborne Time Square billboards.
Also, in May 1996, she made fashion history when she appeared on the covers of six major women’s fashion and fitness magazines including Allure, Vogue, ELLE, Marie Claire, Self, and Shape —thereafter dubbed the ‘Niki Six.’ The supermodel has since been featured on the cover of over 400 magazines with Allure magazine covers holding the most record, 11. She has also walked the runway for top fashion powerhouses like Chanel and Givenchy.
After a break from the industry in 2001, she made a modeling comeback in September 2016. Effortlessly and gracefully, the ageless supermodel with an infectious smile returned to the top tier of the arena once more, doing what she knows best – shooting covers, editorials, and features for major magazines – and has become a strong fixture in the fashion and mainstream press.
Niki has also been lauded for her personal style which earned her best-dressed titles in Vanity Fair, Vogue, Hello magazine, and Women’s Wear Daily.
Niki Taylor, though one of the most sought-after models of the 90’s, is not only successful in the fashion industry but is also a television personality, spokesperson, entrepreneur, philanthropist.
Taylor launched her first fragrance “Begin by Niki Taylor” in 2005 and has done a number of TV hosting gigs. She was an interviewer for segments of the syndicated program Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, covered events for NBC, guest-hosted MTV’s Fashionably Loud, hosted the new Bravo series Make Me a Supermodel in 2008 alongside male model, Tyson Beckford, and introduced the finalists on friend and co–Cover Girl spokesmodel Tyra Banks‘s talk show in 2007.
Furthermore, she contested in the fourth edition of Donald Trump‘s The Celebrity Apprentice in 2011. She also founded the Begin Foundation for the Advancement of Women in Business and supports the American Red Cross.
Besides her beauty and charm, Niki also wields the ability to consistently boost sales and interest in brands or events which has become known to industry insiders as the “Niki effect”. Her image has sold billions of dollars’ worth of products and services and her appearance on magazine covers increased street sales. Moreso, her image is also the driving force of entire multiyear campaigns. Her calendars were all top sellers and as a proof to her exceptionally broad appeal, Niki Taylor was the only supermodel to have a calendar sold in the world’s top retailer, Wal-Mart.
She holds the Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest model to sign a six-figure deal. Her net worth has been estimated at $18 million.
Family – Husband, Kids, Sister
The supermodel was born with fashion in her blood to Ken and Barbara Taylor as the second of their three daughters including Joelle and Krissy.
Her photographer mom was also a model and was on the cover of Gold Coast magazine in the ’70s, the same one Taylor appeared in 2000. However, the duo wasn’t the only ones enamored by the camera. Niki’s younger sister, Krissy followed in their footstep. She appeared on the cover of Seventeen along with big sister Niki and they did a lot of European fashion shows together which Niki counted as one of the highlights in her career.
Unfortunately, Krissy died on July 2, 1995, at the age of 17 at their family home. The cause of death was originally believed to be an asthma attack but was later discovered be from a rare heart condition known as arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD).
Niki was married to former Miami Hooters linebacker, Matt Martinez from 1994 to 1996. The had twin sons, Jake and Hunter in December 1994. Ten years after separating from Matt, she tied the knots with NASCAR driver, Burney Lamar on December 27, 2006, at the Grande Colonial Hotel in La Jolla, California.
The couple’s daughter, Ciel Taylor Lamar was born on March 4, 2009, and was followed two years later by her brother, Rex Harrison Lamar born on November 16, 2011.
Taylor is one of those celebrities whose scion wants to follow in their footstep. Her daughter already knows how to make striking poses even without her mom teaching her. The twosome did a shoot together for Allure Russia in 2017 and Ciel also got to be in a Sherri Hill fashion show during New York Fashion Week in 2018. Moreover, one of her twin boys, Hunter is also good on the runways and Niki delights in the fact that she can share a little bit of her world with them.
She’s a Survivor
Niki Taylor has had her own fair share of ups and downs associated with living but bounced back after each low to climb even higher. Her life was struck by tragedy in 1995 when she discovered the lifeless body of her sister. Although she was broadsided by the loss, Niki still forged ahead. Then came a stint with marriage followed by motherhood to her twin sons and a divorce in her early 20s.
Tragedy then struck again. She was nearly killed in a horrific car accident on April 28, 2001, which left her in a coma for six weeks with severe internal injuries, including a collapsed lung and serious liver damage, and two steel rods had to be implanted in her back to hold her spine together. She had no fewer than 50 surgeries and substantial physical therapy.
The near tragedy changed her approach to life both on and off the runway forever. Although it took her years to recover and make a comeback to modeling, she is super grateful to be alive and is very appreciative of the support system she has. Taylor also credits blood transfusions for saving her life and, thus, joined forces with the American Red Cross as an ambassador in 2007.