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Linda Evangelista: How one of the top-billed 90s It Girls became a ‘recluse’

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Former supermodel Linda Evangelista has reemerged in headlines recently after filing a US$50 million (approx. $68 million) lawsuit claiming cosmetic procedures left her “brutally disfigured” and made her a recluse.

The 56-year-old Canadian was one of the top fashion models of the 1990s, and is seen as one of the most influential and accomplished models of all time.

Evangelista, however, has rarely been seen in the public eye these past few years.

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Here’s everything you need to know about the former supermodel.

READ MORE: Linda Evangelista claims fat-freezing procedure left her ‘brutally disfigured’

Canadian fashion model Linda Evangelista at a benefit for breast cancer awareness and research in 1996. (Getty)

What happened to Linda Evangelista?

Linda Evangelista is widely lauded as one of the most accomplished supermodels of all time, having appeared on over 700 magazine covers and in countless runway shows.

Evangelista’s modelling career began in 1984 in New York City, before being moved to Paris at the age of 19 by Elite Model Management.

What followed was a series of career highs that pegged Evangelista as one of the biggest models in the 90s.

After over a decade of modelling, Evangelista began to slow down — she graced the cover of Lindbergh’s book 10 Women in 1996, within which she appeared as a subject. Similarly, Evangelista was the cover model on the debut editions of Vogue Taiwain and Vogue Korea, before landing a US$7.75 million (approx. $10.6 million) deal with British personal care brand Yardley of London.

In 1998, Evangelista retired from modelling, and spent the next two years in the French Riviera.

READ MORE: Linda Evangelista files $68 million lawsuit over ‘disfiguring’ cosmetic treatment

Linda Evangelista
Linda Evangelista in India in 2005. (Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

What is Linda Evangelista doing now?

After three years of retirement, Evangelista made a modelling comeback in 2001 when she graced the cover of Vogue‘s September issue.

After various ad campaigns throughout 2001 and 2002, Evangelista returned to runways in 2003, walking for Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, and notably, Chanel, where she closed their fall/winter haute couture show wearing a white wedding gown.

Evangelista’s final runway show was Christian Dior’s 60th anniversary in 2007, which is the same year she signed an exclusive multi-year contract with L’Oreal Paris.

On and off throughout the years, Evangelista has appeared in multiple ad campaigns, books, magazines and at events, however, her last year of activity was notably 2016 — modelling-wise, old photographs of Evangelista appeared on the cover of Vogue 100: A Century of Style, as well as in the book Age of the Supermodel.

Aged 51 at the time, Evangelista appeared on the cover of Zoo Magazine‘s 50th issue — but hasn’t graced any covers since.

An explanation for this came in the form of an Instagram post, shared by Evangelista in September 2021.

“To my followers who have wondered why I have not been working while my peers’ careers have been thriving, the reason is that I was brutally disfigured by Zeltiq’s CoolSculpting procedure which did the opposite of what it promised,” Evangelista wrote.

“It increased, not decreased, my fat cells and left me permanently deformed even after undergoing two painful, unsuccessful, corrective surgeries.”

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The former model alleged that she developed paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH) — a rare side effect of fat freezing, which occurs when fat cells increase in size rather than dying. It can be treated with liposuction.

Evangelista says PAH was a risk of the procedure, and she claims she was not warned about it beforehand.

“PAH has not only destroyed my livelihood, it has sent me into a cycle of deep depression, profound sadness, and the lowest depths of self-loathing,” she said. “In the process, I have become a recluse.”

Evangelista has since filed a US$50 million (approx. $68 million) lawsuit in New York federal court against Zeltiq for negligence, misleading advertising and alleging that the company failed to warn customers of the possible side effects.

In the lawsuit, Evangelista says she had multiple procedures in 2015 and 2016 to reduce fat on her thighs, abdomen, back, flanks and chin. According to the lawsuit, corrective surgery has not worked to fix the PAH.

The exact appearance of the alleged deformity has not been revealed, though Evangelista said “developed hard, bulging, painful masses under her skin” and “immense keloid scarring.”

Evangelista is seeking financial damages for loss of income and emotional distress, saying she is now unemployable as a model, having been unable to earn anything from modelling since 2016.

READ MORE: Linda Evangelista’s social media fears — ‘I feel as though people know more than enough about me’

Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell
Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell together in 1994. (Patrick McMullan via Getty Image)

Are Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista friends?

Yes!

Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista were two of the most iconic faces of the 90s, and their friendship off the job has spanned decades.

The duo, in fact, are extremely close with fellow supermodel alumni Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford, and the foursome fought the fashion world together at the height of their careers.

Last year, in an interview with The Observer, Campbell spoke out about the racism she experienced when she rose to the status as one of the top five models in the world, revealing that Evangelista and Turlington allied with her and refused to work for designers that wouldn’t book Campbell due to the colour of her skin.

“They really put themselves out there, Linda and Christy, in terms of supporting me with designers back in the day who hadn’t used a model of colour yet,” Campbell told the publication. “We were friends outside of work.”

Campbell, Evangelista and Turlington formed the famous ‘Trinity,’ and in the interview, Campbell revealed they have a WhatsApp group together.

Now, with Crawford, the trio will also be reunited for professional purposes.

Late last year, Apple TV+ revealed it would be revisiting the 90s fashion scene with docuseries The Supermodels, which will follow the careers of Campbell, Crawford, Evangelista and Turlington with interviews from the foursome.

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Who is Linda Evangelista son’s father?

Linda Evangelista has one son, 14-year-old Augustin James Evangelista, to French billionaire François-Henri Pinault.

Evangelista and Pinault dated for four months between 2005 and 2006, although when she announced her pregnancy and gave birth, Evangelista refused to name the father.

It wasn’t until mid-2011 that the world found out who Augustin’s father was, when Evangelista filed court papers with the aim of establishing a child support agreement — the model sought US$46,000 (approx. $63,000) a month in child support payments, and if that had been granted, it was thought to have been “the largest support order in the history of the family court,” per People.

Salma Hayek and François-Henri Pinault
Salma Hayek has been married to François-Henri Pinault since 2009. (Getty)

A child support trial, which was heavily publicised, lasted four days in May 2012 — during which Evangelista claimed that Pinault never supported Augustin — and the duo reached an out-of-court settlement in a matter of days.

Although Evangelista has been married before — Gérald Marie, the head of Elite Model Management’s Paris office, was Evangelista’s husband from 1987 to 1993 — she is not currently married to anyone.

Evangelista dated actor Kyle MacLachlan from 1992 until 1998, the final three years of their relationship spent engaged.

French football player Fabien Barthez also dated Evangelista from 1998. With Barthez, Evangelista became pregnant, however, she miscarried six months into the pregnancy. The couple broke up for good in 2002.

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Does Linda Evangelista have social media?

Yes! Linda Evangelista has an official Instagram account, which has almost 960,000 followers.

READ MORE: What’s going on with Britney Spears?

Linda Evangelista
Linda Evangelista, pictured here in 2015, is worth US$40 million. (FilmMagic)

What is Linda Evangelista’s net worth?

In October 1990, Linda Evangelista infamously told Vogue, “We have this saying, Christy [Turlington] and I… we don’t wake up for less than US$10,000 (approx. $13,711) a day.”

Backlash quickly followed, and as the quote became canonized throughout the fashion world, it morphed into variations including, “I don’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day” and “I never get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day.”

Evangelista commented on the storm surrounding her comment 11 years later, again to Vogue, saying, “I feel like those words are going to be engraved on my tombstone. It was brought up every single time I did an interview. I apologized for it; I acknowledged it; I said it was true; I said it was a joke. Do I regret it? I used to regret. Not anymore. I don’t regret anything anymore. Would I hope that I would never say something like that ever again? Yes. Am I capable of saying something like that again? I hope not.”

The model, however, has gotten the last laugh at her own misconstrued joke — per Celebrity Net Worth, Linda Evangelista has a net worth of US$40 million (approx. $54.7 million).

Evangelista was one of the highest-paid supermodels of the 90s — at her peak, she earned US$5 million (approx. $6.8 million) to US$8 million (approx. $11 million) a year.

Now, the richest supermodel in the world is Gisele Bündchen, who is worth a cool US$400 million (approx. $548.8 million).

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