Elle Macpherson (born Eleanor Nancy Gow, 29 March 1964) is one of the celebrity supermodels whose fame transcends any normal bounds or limits. While her home country of Australia must be reckoned a hotbed of supermodels, along with places like Brazil and the Czech Republic, she bestrides the fashion scene there and elsewhere like a Colossus (she's very tall, too, 6'3" in heels she has said, and is a 34C). While of a slightly earlier generation of models than Heidi Klum and some of the other top names, she remains a force in the modelling world and the other fields she has entered successfully.
Elle, as she is universally known, hails from Killara, New South Wales, a suburb of Sydney. She spent her youth in East Lindfield, and graduated from Killara High School in 1981. She matriculated at Sydney University to study law, but started to pick up modelling gigs. She ultimately gave up the law and decided to live in New York for a year to model, a situation she later romanticized in "Easy Living":
"I went to America on holiday when I was 17 and, before I knew it, I'd been signed up by an agency and had these obligations I didn't understand, but which I couldn't say no to. This industry chose me."Choose her they did, and Elle hasn't looked back since.
Elle has been on too many magazine covers to list over the past 35 years. Whoever keeps track of such things must have her listed around the top of that summit, along with Christie Brinkley, Naomi Campbell and a few other of the elites. She is unique in the fashion world because her fame is completely independent of Victoria's Secret, though she has appeared in their ads. There never was any need for her to become an Angel, her fame eclipsed that of any brand other than her own, and how many supermodels can say that? She continues to model, and some of her more recent covers include:
2015 June Harper's Bazaar Australia
2013 August Gioia, F, Mujer Hoy, Harper's Bazaar Australia, Harper's Bazaar Australia, Red
2012 December S Moda October F September Petra August Vanity Fair Italy
2011 December Cosmopolitan Germany
During the 1980s, Elle picked up the nickname "The Body" from a 1986 Time Magazine article. Elle loved the nick and built her brand around it. The same nickname later was applied to or appropriated by or whatever you want to call it by Heidi Klum. One might say that Elle is the original The Body and Heidi is the second coming of The Body. While there are rumors that Elle was going to sue Klum over stealing the nick, she never did. In interviews, Elle makes it clear that they are at most polite toward each other - which says quite a lot in that situation (no, they don't sit around together laughing about both having the same corny nickname, this is big business in the branding world). What this little anecdote reveals is that there are supermodels, and then there are supermodels. Elle is a supermodel of supermodels, big enough to be able to look down with some justification on Heidi Klum as a kind of newcomer, interloper or parvenu. That's not arrogance, it's just plain reality. Elle is Elle. Heidi is not.
Elle reached the peak of her fame in the mid-1980s, beginning a string of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition appearances that ultimately included the years 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2004 & 2006.
Elle branched out into other activities over the years, capitalizing on her worldwide fame. She produces her own calendar, which she publicizes at signing ceremonies (one of which I have attended), became part-owner of the Fashion Café restaurant chain with pals Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington (don't we all wish we had them as close friends), and appeared nude in a May 1994 Playboy Magazine (very artful shots by Herb Ritts). She also was one of the first supermodels to have her own fashion line, "Elle Macpherson Intimates."
However, Elle's main career besides being a model and businesswoman is acting. She has appeared in films such as "Batman and Robin," Jane Eyre" and "Sirens" (her breakthrough role) and had a recurring role on "Friends." She also appears in and produces television shows such as Britain's and Ireland's Next Top Model, Fashion Star and the mini-series "A Girl Thing." Elle is considered a national treasure down under and had an elaborate float at the closing ceremonies of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Elle is tall - did I mention that? - with lots of freckles, and has legs that go up to there. She has a sunny, smiling demeanor that endears her to her fans. She has a son, Arpade Flynn, with her one-time man (and billionaire) Arpade Busson, from whom she separated in 2005, and also another son with him, Aurelius Cy Andrea Busson. More recently, Elle married a billionaire (come on, you didn't expect anything else), Jeffrey Soffer, and apparently divides her time between the UK and Florida.
When contemplating someone like Elle Macpherson, one wonders what could possibly be in a life as perfect as hers. She has everything a girl growing up in suburban Sydney could possibly want. Are eggs cooked a little too long for her liking the lowpoint of her week? Does she fret if she breaks a nail or one of her covers doesn't sell as well as the last? It's hard to imagine what could possibly disturb the tranquility of her perfect life. She's Elle.
Among the many little bits of trivia about Elle is that Billy Joel actually wrote "Uptown Girl" about Elle, not Christie Brinkley. They were all on vacation at St. Barts with Whitney Houston (then a model) and Joel was entranced by both Elle and Christie, and while he later wound up with Christie, he first had Elle. Elle needed a place to live, he gave her the top floor of some building he owned on Central Park South, and they, you know, hung out. Tough life!
Incidentally, Elle still looks great at 50.