Canadian Linda Evangelista belongs to the class of the highest paid supermodel legends. During the peak of her career in the late 1980s and 1990s, Evangelista stood with Cindy Crawford and Christie Brinkley as the most famous and sought after in their profession. She has walked the runways of the world’s premier fashion shows and adorned over 600 covers of all leading fashion magazines. Now in her 40s, Evangelista is still going strong and is part of Chanel’s Spring/Summer 2012 eye-wear campaign.
The Roman Catholic was born May 10, 1965 in St. Catherines, Ontario to Italian immigrants. Her father worked for General Motors and mother was a bookkeeper. She has two brothers. Evangelista aspired to modeling since the age of 12 and humbly began posing for local department store ads. At 16, she entered and lost the Miss Teen Niagara pageant but caught the attention of a talent scout for the Elite Modeling Agency.
Her mother would not allow her to call the scout’s phone number until completing high school. The 18-year-old signed with Elite and moved to New York City. Her stay was brief and she moved to Paris in 1984. It is common practice for fledgling models to be sent to Europe for seasoning and building a portfolio. Evangelista struggled for several years doing a lot of catalog assignments.
Things turned around in 1986, when noted photographer Peter Lindbergh agreed to shoot her. Lindbergh suggested she get her hair cut in what would become her trademark short bobbed style. Until then, there was nothing special setting Evangelista apart from the crowd. At her peak, the blue-green eyed brunette stood 5’9″ with a 121 lbs. 34B-24-35 frame. That hairstyle made all the difference.
Her career soared into supermodel status. At 22, she married Elite executive Gerald Maria in 1987 and their union lasted until 1993. After separating from Maria, Evangelista began a six-year relationship with actor Kyle Maclachlan. They had met on set in 1992 when shooting an ad for Barney’s. They became engaged in 1994 and separated in 1998.
Evangelista has escaped some of the negatives trappings of the modeling game by making a point of avoiding drugs. She decided to retire and settle down to a “normal” life. In 1999, she became pregnant by French footballer Fabien Barthez, but the baby was stillborn at six months. That unfortunate tragedy spun her into depression and she emerged by returning to modeling. Evangelista roared back after three years absence at 36 by appearing on the cover of Vogue in 2001.
On October 11, 2006, 41-year-old Evangelista gave birth to son Augustin James. She kept the father’s identity secret for several years. The revelation came in 2011, when French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault was named the father. That made tabloid news because Pinault is married to actress Salma Hayek and Evangelista is seeking $46,000 in monthly child support.
Now with DNA Model Management, Evangelista remains a successful age defying model and worked on campaigns for major fashion names like L’Oreal (2007) and Prada (2008). A lifetime achievement honor was bestowed upon her at the 1997 VH1 Fashion and Music Awards. Evangelista was honored by her country when making the Canadian Walk of Fame in Toronto.