Before her reported comeback on the runway next month, Linda Evangelista appeared on a Vogue cover, looking like she has not changed, even when framed by a large scarf
Linda Evangelista, “permanently damaged” by a 2016 body-contouring procedure, wants to revive her modelling career. “I’m done with hiding,” she told People in a February cover story. So, she is back in sight. And she has many friends who could make her a model again. First there was Kim Jones who cast her in last month’s ad for Fendi, and—next month—the runway appearance for the Italian brand. “I loved being up on the catwalk,” she admitted to the American weekly in that revealing interview. And likely still does. But before that anticipated IRL appearance, she has Edward Enninful to thank for her return to magazine covers; for starters, the latest British Vogue. Ms Evangelista is in demand again. The return of the supermodel.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t American Vogue that got hold of the Canadian-born model (she appeared on their cover a whopping 11 times in her career). It was the British edition that gave her the cover opportunity, and it was its editor-in-chief Mr Enninful who styled her, in full modest fashion glory. It is possible that Anna Wintour preferred her Vogue to be graced by someone whole, even when she told People that “no model was more super than Linda”. Ms Evangelista said in the People cover story that the treatment Coolsculpting had “brutally disfigured” her. In a far more natural photograph published on that cover, Ms Evangelista looked less a fashion model: Her face seemed wider, her jaws more pronounced, her cheeks not as lifted, and her skin less smooth than before. CoolSculpting, a treatment that helps reduce unwanted fat by “freezing” them, left her with hard “bulges” due to a rare reaction known as paradoxical adipose hyperplasia or PAH.
The damages Ms Evangelista suffered probably could not be totally undone or significantly minimised, which may explain why in all the Vogue photos Mr Enninful had her face framed by scarves and topped by dramatic headwear. Worn like a babushka, the scarves are bound rather tightly, effecting a slimmer face, even a smaller head. For most, the cover is major and one that is considered “stunning”; as striking, to some, as Ms Evangelista’s Patrick Demarchelier-lensed 1992 cover for Harper’s Bazaar, under newly-installed editor, the late Liz Tilbiris, 30 years ago. This is Linda Evangelista as Linda Evangelista of the past, of our firm memory of her; this is not post-PAH. Her eyes are just as speaking, under the arch of the brows; her nose as perky; her lips as full; her teeth as white, all set in flawless and glowing skin.
According to British Vogue, makeup artist Pat McGrath “gently (how else?) drew her face, jaw and neck back with tape and elastics”. There were, of course, digital trickery too. Ms Evangelista has no illusion about the illusory contours seen. She said: “That’s not my jaw and neck in real life – and I can’t walk around with tape and elastics everywhere.” Nor, probably headscarves and hats, at least not everywhere, every day. Styling can truly recast even a “damaged” face and person into unimpaired familiarity. The cover girl said to People five months ago, “I don’t recognize myself physically, but I don’t recognize me as a person any longer either. She (and “she means Linda Evangelista, supermodel,” People wrote) is sort of gone.” But now, with this, perhaps not. With help, the model is again.
In weighing what might have prompted the super of the supers to go for body contouring, the British Vogue editorial put forth a conjecture that, apart for herself, “perhaps also in some warped way for everyone else who will forever compare you to the impossible ideals of your Vogue covers and campaign images”. Although good looks are now seen even in beauty outside known and accepted standards, Ms Evangelista’s altered visage is not quite gorgeous, recognisable, and admissible enough for a Vogue cover. In his editor’s page, Edward Enninful wrote that “perhaps no other face so effortlessly captures the essence of the fin-de-siècle supermodel as Linda Evangelista.” So the final effect has to commensurate with that. Let her look unchanged. Once a model, always a model.
Photos: Steven Meisel/British Vogue