The tragic story of 90s supermodel sisters Niki and Krissy Taylor.

Niki Taylor was one of the world's most recognisable supermodels of the 90s. 

She walked the runways of the major fashion shows, and her face graced stacks of magazine covers, and the billboards of Times Square.

But there was a lot of rejection before she found success. 

"I got a lot of no's. I'm 'too young.' 'They're looking for more of a European look.' I'm 'too commercial,'" Niki reflected with Fashionista.

She was just 13 when her model/photographer mum took some photos of her while they were visiting Mexico. 

"And I was like, 'I think this is what I want to do'," Niki, now 47, recalled.

"I used to take my allowance and buy fashion magazines and practice poses. I remember I said I want to be one of these girls," she told Harpers Bazaar.

So, Niki's mum sent out her comp cards to modelling agencies.

"You always have to go through your 'no's to find that one 'yes.'"

And that 'yes' finally came from Miami Beach agency, Irene Marie. They had already turned her away once, but now her braces had been removed.

Some of the original supermodels reunite. Article continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

From there it was a rapid trajectory for the middle child from South Florida. 

It began with catalogue work before winning a Fresh Faces modelling competition in New York City. Then came the $500,000 modelling contract. 

By 14, Niki was the face of the back-to-school edition (August 1989) of Seventeen magazine.

"I started working for Seventeen, Mademoiselle — and the rest is history," she told Fashionista.

Niki's younger sister, Krissy - then 11 - also began attending shoots with her. Photographers noticed her too, and began including her in the shots, often posing the sisters together. She too appeared in Seventeen.

The following year Niki was on the cover of Vogue, making her the second youngest person to score the honour after Brooke Shields.

Her appeal lay in her all-American girl-next-door image - kind but confident, outgoing and open. She was labelled 'Baby Cindy' for her likeness to Cindy Crawford.

The world of fashion and media couldn't get enough.

In 1991, not only did Niki make her runway debut at Paris Fashion week, People magazine named her on its '50 most beautiful people lists'. She also signed with global top modelling agency IMG Models - and Krissy soon followed suit. 


By 16, Niki was announced as the new face of L'Oréal, making her the youngest model to ever secure a multimillion-dollar deal. In 1992, she made history with CoverGirl, becoming the first model under the age of 18 to sign a major contract with the brand (and she stayed with them for the next eight years).

The campaigns came rolling in: Thierry Mugler, Escada, Liz Claiborne, Jean Paul Gaultier, Versace, Versus, Anne Klein, Gap, Lee Jeans, and Pantene.


Yet, while some days were spent amongst supermodel giants - the likes of Helena Christensen, Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell - the next, she was catapulted back to the mundane reality of high school.

"I always went home. I never moved to New York. I never moved to L.A. I was a tomboy and always went home to go to school, play sports and be normal. Family kept me rooted to who I really was," she said.

Meanwhile, Krissy's career also began to take off. 

While joining Niki for the Fall Shows in Milan, Krissy captured the attention of designers. They decided to put her on the runway too. It launched her into a successful career of her own; she graced front covers and catwalks.

Six. That's the number of huge Times Square billboards on which she simultaneously featured on. The only person to have ever claimed such a title.

In her personal life, Niki, then 18, met former footballer Matt Martinez during a coin toss at a football game. Three months later, they eloped to Las Vegas. The following year, Niki gave birth to twin sons.

But it was a difficult delivery, and after being sent home with a bottle of Percocet, Niki said her life was changed - "because I was like, 'Wow! Oh my gosh, I can do everything on this."

Then, as her marriage became to come unstuck, Niki was met with tragedy. 

At 20 years old, she found Krissy, then 17, on the floor of the family home in Florida. 


Despite having no symptoms of a heart condition, she had died from rare cardiac disease, arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD).

"The biggest tragedy and loss in my life was losing my little sister," Niki later told Oprah.

"We were very close. We worked together. We did everything together. I miss her very much."


Unable to grapple the loss and wanting "to be numb", Niki again turned to prescription pills. 

"When you rely heavily on a substance to get you through you are left addicted to them and reliant on them, which I was." 

But the work continued. She eventually overcame her addiction and cemented her position amongst supermodel greats.

Again, six. 

This time, it was the number of major US women's fashion and fitness magazine covers on which she appeared in May 1996: Allure, Vogue, ELLE, Marie Claire, Self, and Shape. It was unprecedented, and she became known thereafter as 'Niki Six'.

However, the highs were met with more lows. 

Just six years after losing her sister, Niki almost died in a car accident. 

Her friend was driving her home from a club on a rainy night, when he collided into a utility pole. 

"[He was] not going fast at all, and I thought I was fine until I got out of the car and had terrible pain in my stomach and was taken to the hospital. Doctors determined the seat belt had torn my liver in half and I was bleeding internally." 

Niki also had a collapsed lung. Over the next 24 hours, she underwent three surgeries - and died on the operating table twice. 

The medical staff brought her back, but it was just the beginning of what would be a long and arduous recovery. 


Niki endured more than 50 surgeries in the next three years, and had two steel rods implanted in her back. 

Again, prescription pain medication became a crutch. She likens the withdrawal to a "heroin detox". 

Wanting a restart, Niki then moved to Tennessee with her sons. 

And the following year - 2002 - she met country singer, Keith Urban. 

It became serious - fast. They shared a home together, and tattoos; each inscribing the Latin words, amor vincit omnia - 'love conquers all' - on their bodies. Niki even made an appearance in Urban's music video for his song, 'Somebody Like You'.

Niki continued to diversify her career from modelling, establishing her own company, Begin Enterprises, Inc. She launched a fragrance line, clothing boutique, and a charitable arm, the Begin Foundation for the Advancement of Women in Business.

Niki and Urban stayed together for two years before calling it quits. She explained, "His career got really busy, I got really busy, and we never saw each other".

In 2006, Urban married Hollywood actress Nicole Kidman. In the same year, Niki wed former NASCAR driver, Burney Lamar, after meeting him at an autograph session just months earlier. 


The couple went on to have a daughter and a son together; Ciel, now 13, and Rex, 11.

While Niki dabbled in television - starring on Make Me a Supermodel and The Celebrity Apprentice - she made a modelling comeback in 2016, shooting covers for the likes of Harpers Bazaar and Vogue (US and UK).

And in 2021, she returned to her roots, becoming the face of CoverGirl once again - this time, for the brand's 'Simply Ageless' collection.


“I love how things come full circle,” Niki, told Harpers Bazaar from her home in Tennessee last year. 

More than 30 years since she got her big break, her outlook remains grounded.

“I laugh a lot. I focus on the positive. And I enjoy each moment.”

Keen to read more from Rebecca Davis? You can find her articles here, or follow her on Instagram.

Feature Image: Instagram/@nikilovesu/Mamamia.

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