Kristen McMenamy was born in Easton, Pennsylvania, on December 13, 1966. Unlike many of her supermodel peers, she didn't enjoy a storybook discovery. As a hopeful young girl, modeling matriarch Eileen Ford told her that she'd need extensive plastic surgery if she were ever going to make it, but Kristen was resilient.
With some initial success in 1985, landing ad campaigns for Jil Sander and Gerard Darel, it wasn't until 1990 that Kristen's career really began to take off. By then, the Amazonian ideal of the '80s gave way to quirky individuality as exemplified by Kristen. Her edgy androgynous look made her a high-fashion favorite. She appeared in numerous editorials for magazines like Harper's Bazaar and Vogue Italia, as well as several important campaigns, including Chanel, Versace, Fendi, and Calvin Klein. In 1992 she starred alongside Naomi Campbell and Nadja Auermann in the generation defining "Grunge and Glory" Vogue editorial, and caused a booking sensation the following year when she shaved off her eyebrows.
Known for her confidence and quick wit, Kristen has extended her contribution to the modeling industry by expressing a positive and empowering outlook. "I am defining a new feminine beauty, but only because everyone is beautiful," she says. "The fashion industry and the media dictate the way girls feel about themselves, even though 99.999 percent of the world doesn't look like Cindy Crawford, doesn't have the perfect shape. The only reason I hope I'm the new definition of beauty is because I represent the individual. I represent being happy with who you are."
Though her runway and editorial presence has declined since her '90s heyday, Kristen pops up sporadically to walk for designers like Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy, much to fashion lovers' delight. In July 2009, Steven Miesel shot Kristen for a Vogue Italia issue entitled "The Legend," dedicated entirely to the model herself.
She has a daughter, Lilly, and another child with her photography husband Miles Aldridge, whom she married in 1997.