Late on a Wednesday afternoon, Linda Evangelista is in a windowless, air-conditioned studio apartment in New York’s Meatpacking District, wearing a longline silver trench coat by Gucci. A chaotic network of crew, parasites and helpers buzz politely around her – not too close, but close enough to complete the various tasks at hand. Statuesque, she glides in full fashion and make-up, from wardrobe to decor, passing me on the way for a quick introduction. “Oh hi. I’m sorry, my fingernails are wet,” she says to explain why she won’t stop. Is there a more supermodel “hello” than that?
Even at 57, and even after the trauma of her high-profile ordeal with Zeltiq CoolSculpting, a body contouring treatment, Linda has a presence that could part an ocean. The ultimate glamazon, she was the biggest super of them all. Always portrayed as the ruthless, probably because of her shiny demands (it was Linda who joked, “You don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day”), but also, perhaps, because her beauty was so demanding that she borders on intimidating. Those pale blue, upward-slanting feline eyes, probably the most gorgeous nose ever, arched eyebrows, a dreamy jawline, that megawatt mouth… a genetic accident that, well, seems like nothing was left to chance. Add an element of surprise to all of this – you never knew which Linda you were going to get: brunette, platinum blonde, fiery copper. (Today, brunette.)
The next morning, we meet at The Orchard Townhouse in Chelsea, a few blocks from his apartment. It’s a warm sunny day and she’s apparently makeup-free, wearing loose linen diapers, flats and wearing a forest green Birkin, a bag she’s had since 1985, when you could walk into a Hermès store and come across a Birkin for sale. “Hermès invited me to choose something,” she says, “and I remember coming in thinking, ‘What am I going to put here?’ The stores were not like they are today. And then I saw this bag. But even the sellers said it was “old fashioned”, which I imagine it was then, because it just stayed on the top shelf. In fact, they blew the dust away. Of course,” she leans over, taking a sip of iced tea, “I had no idea who Jane Birkin was.
She’s warm and engaging, but her mood is also contemplative, and emotionally she’s a bit drained. Naturally. Yesterday’s session with Steven Meisel was his first vogue cover and fashion shoot for quite some time – she says she has spent five years ‘in hiding’ since she says a fat freezing procedure left her ‘brutally disfigured’. She decided the only way out was to tell her story. “I couldn’t live in this pain anymore,” she said. “I knew I had to make a change, and the only change was speaking my truth.”
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