Linda Evangelista's name is legendary in the world of high fashion. For designers and devoted fashionistas alike, the name Evangelista conjures up a face and figure that personifies fashion in all its myriad forms of creativity and glamour. Linda is gifted with the uncanny ability to control almost every part of her body, not only creating a new persona with each photo shoot but also a new Linda with each successive season of fashion. She models with unrivaled conviction and charisma in a profession that has kept her in demand far beyond the average working tenure for a fashion model. It's this rare gift of longevity that has only enhanced her standing as the GREATEST POSER OF ALL TIME.
So WHO is Linda Evangelista?
Linda was born to Italian parents on May 10, 1965 in St. Catharines , Ontario , Canada and was raised in a working class, traditional Catholic family where family mealtimes and holiday gatherings were mandatory. This foundation has kept her family close-knit to this very day. Even from afar, Linda still communicates with her family and friends on a daily basis, via webcam.
She knew she wanted to become a model when she was 12 years old. Linda got her start posing for local department store catalogs. Later, she was discovered by an Elite talent scout at the Miss Teen Niagara Contest when she was all of 16 years old. However, her mother didn't allow her to call the number on that agent's business card until until she finished school and was more mature.
Linda's entry into the fashion world as a full-time profession began when she briefly moved to New York, signed with Elite and then moved on to Paris in 1984, where she actually began earning a living as a model. In Europe, her career progressed very slowly and Linda's work responsibilities consisted of mainly unexciting catalog work until about 1987. She refused to give up and continued working hard on her looks and presenting her portfolio to famous photographers, hoping for an opportunity to work with them. This persistence and determination paid off when Peter Lindbergh finally agreed to photograph her.
Her ascension in the fashion world wasn't without its share up bumps in the road. In the early days of her career, she temporarily became disillusioned with modeling after being rudely subjected to the darker side of the modeling business while on an assignment in Japan . A short time later, one of her colleagues died from cocaine overdose during an assignment in Milan . That experience shook Linda up to the point where she swore she would never partake of illegal drugs.
Linda's love for modeling is like a chocoholic's lust for a taste of the dark delicacy. In the September 2001 issue of Vogue USA, Amber Valletta is quoted saying that she knows no one who enjoys modeling as much as Linda. Linda exhibited this enthusiasm when she started out as a print model but wanted up on the catwalk stage as well. It should be noted that in those early days, there were two classes of models; print and catwalk. Linda wanted to be a part of both worlds.
In the Fall of 1988, at the suggestion of legendary photographer Peter Lindbergh and famed hair stylist Julien d'Ys, she chopped off all her hair into a little-boy style crop. Initially, almost all her runway bookings in Milan were cancelled because her new look didn't quite fit in with the legions of long-haired manes that were omnipresent on the catwalks of the day. That perception quickly changed when Linda's hairdo became the most talked about look of the fashion world. Soon, Linda's hairdo was emulated by women the world over and was featured on the cover of every existing international edition of Vogue of the day.
This was the first of her many, many dramatic hairstyle changes that culminated in Linda's enduring reputation as THE CHAMELEON of the fashion world. A reputation well-earned not only for her frequent hair changes (style, length and color) but also for the way she could magically transform in front of a camera. Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld once said of her, "She's like an instrument. She's a kind of stradivarius. You can play her like you can play no other instrument. She's strong and at the same time flexible. She's tough and very touching and that's the secret of her success."
Linda's star continued to rise during one of fashions most extraordinary periods -- THE AGE OF THE SUPERMODELS, which began in the late 80s and concluded in the mid-90s. As Linda, Cindy, Claudia, Naomi, and Christy became household first names, their last names became unimportant. Of this group, the TRINITY -- Linda, Naomi and Christy -- were not only commonly credited for sparking supermodel mania, they also pushed for better wages and projects for models. Linda became known as the founder of the "supermodel union".
During the span of Linda's dazzling career, she has walked for every major fashion house and appeared in countless ad campaigns. Obviously, as one of Linda's biggest fans, Mr. Lagerfeld makes it clear: "There is not another model in the world as professional as she is." He also said, when comparing models, that Evangelista was the "top of the tops."
Linda suffers from panic attacks or as she calls it -- a fear of fear. Two of those fears that often became epidemic were air travel and social situations. When she's on the catwalk "performing", she's more oblivious to the people who are watching her. But backstage, among a room full of stylists, photographers, publicists and models is when she suffers. The film, "Unzipped", documenting Isaac Mizrahi, exhibits this behavior. Her favorite mode of work is in front of the camera, where she can work uninhibited by the fears of working around a crowd of people.
The panic attacks increased and in 1998, Linda decided to fulfill her dream of stepping down from her hectic career and begin living a normal day-to-day life, one that offered a routine and a sense of calmness. Linda retired for the next three years from the catwalk and the cameras. The only glimpses of Linda that the public saw during this period were reprinted photos in magazines and the candids of her and Fabian Barthez that would occasionally appear in the tabloids.
Upon realizing that her love for modeling could not be extinguished, and that living an idle life didn't suit her because she needed to stay busy, she returned with full fanfare at the unseemly age of 36 on the cover of US Vogue in September of 2001. She was back for good. Not even a pregnancy in 2006 would move her to return to retirement. There wont be a 'comeback' after the baby's birth, Linda says, because she doesn't plan on ever going away. She decided, however, that she would not allow the old stressful work habits to reemerge and she would base her schedule on her terms by picking and choosing the projects she was most interested in doing.
Linda's most sought after wish came true on October 11, 2006, when she gave birth to a son, AUGUSTIN JAMES EVANGELISTA.
Linda has contributed immeasurably to various charitable causes. AIDS and breast cancer are among those of which she has lent her name and resources. Linda was profoundly affected when her first booking agent died of AIDS. To this day, that singular event motivates her to action and she endeavors to make a difference whenever she possibly can.
Last updated on October 13th, 2006
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