Time magazine coined a nickname for Elle Macpherson that stuck and came to define her: “The Body”.

This Australian supermodel dominated magazine covers, newspaper headlines, television commercial and billboard ads at a special time for modelling 30 years ago. Her photo was everywhere.

Now, at age 48, blonde Elle is a highly successful beauty-industry entrepreneur.

With a height of 1.83m and measurements of 91-64-89, she continues to be a commanding presence with her elongated silhouette, her muscular body and the strong shoulders that characterised her from the start.

When she was a teenager, Elle Macpherson’s future was decided by fate. She made a wager with a friend about whether she would make it as a model and got lucky in 1982, suddenly famous at a young age in her native Australia.

The ticket to fame was a television commercial showing Macpherson walking along the beach in a bikini and holding a TAB soda refreshment. In 1987 she was featured in another soda advertisement for Diet Coke, this time in a pool.

Macpherson really owes her career to swimsuits. She posed for innumerable ads wearing them.

It was not by chance that the US magazine Sports Illustrated chose her to appear in its yearly bathing-suit edition.

Whoever is featured on the cover of the special edition is assured of success. Macpherson graced the cover of the special Sports Illustrated edition six times, the first in 1986, and holds the record.

While not specifically a fashion industry magazine, Sports Illustrated presents sexy shots of models in outdoors or sporting settings and has had a role in the fashion world by promoting many young promising models.

Macpherson was also fortunate in being immediately embraced by her namesake magazine Elle which constantly featured her in the early years of her career.

Macpherson married Elle magazine photographer Gilles Bensimon, divorcing him in 1989. The marriage floundered possibly because of the age difference: he was more than 20 years her elder.

Macpherson slowly worked on polishing her simple and innocent teenager look, becoming more sophisticated in her appeal.

She did however for a long time hold on to her sporting spirit, turning her face away from the camera for a profile shot, preferring that her body be the star. That led to “The Body” nickname from Time in a 1989 cover article The Big Elle.

Macpherson identified fully with her new media moniker and started using “The Body” as the name for a series of products she was involved with in conjunction with her modelling career such as “The Body Collection” bath lotions and fragrances.

Dozens of advertising spreads, hundreds of articles and photos of her broad smile and a lot of skin made Macpherson an expert in lingerie. In 1990 the supermodel launched “Elle Macpherson Intimates”, currently sold in 11 countries. The brand offers garments for pregnant women, men, sports and also designs after-wear.

Macpherson broke with the Ford modelling agency in 1994 and founded her own company Elle Macpherson Inc. That same year she released her exercise video line: “Your Personal Best with the Body”.

She also began to produce calendars, each one linked to a television programme.

From the 1990s and still today, Macpherson takes part in breast cancer research campaigns. “I try to choose areas that resonate with me, and breasts and breast cancer resonate with me because I made my living from breasts,” Macpherson said recently.

Macpherson posed for the “Elle Macpherson Intimates” line until 2003 and since then she has headed its creative design department. Harper’s Bazaar magazine has called her “the business head behind the Body”.

Together with her friends, fellow supermodels Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington, Macpherson created the Fashion Cafe in 1995, that opened branches in a number of countries.

The restaurant chain failed to really take off, but the original Fashion Cafe was an attention-garnering spot in the three years it catered to customers in New York City.

Macpherson has done well in films as well. Her performance in such movies as Alice, Mermaids and If Lucy Fell, and even in Jane Eyre, Batman and The Edge earned her kudos and she has come to be considered a credible and respected actress.

She had several guest appearances in the Friends television series and in 2009 she also appeared on Ashton Kutcher’s Beautiful Life.

Macpherson spends most of her time in Great Britain to be with her two sons, now adolescents, that she had with financier Arpad Flynn Busson, currently dating actress Uma Thurman. Macpherson and Busson were together for 10 years.

Since then, Macpherson has been seen with celebrity partners, among them recently, British banker Roger Jenkins.

In 1998 the movie Beautopia brought together nearly all the supermodels to explore the desires of thousands of teenage girls who want to become celebrities with modelling careers just like Elle, Cindy, Claudia, Naomi and Kate.

The movie was shot as a documentary, earning a prize in the Chicago Film Festival, and the models featured in it acted as themselves, as did other celebrities such as designers Valentino and Isaac Mizrahi.

Television awards shows and beauty contests love Macpherson as a host and she is called in frequently to perform on them. She hosted the 2001 Miss Universe pageant with Naomi Campbell and in 2008 was a guest on the America’s Next Top Model to promote her lingerie line.

In 2010 Macpherson hosted and was the executive producer for Britain’s Next Top Model. In 2012 she quit hosting the NBC network reality show Fashion Star but continues to be its executive producer.

At age 45, Macpherson was appointed global ambassador for Revlon cosmetics to promote their make-up line for older women.

Allegedly the makeup helps keeps women’s faces intact and beauty endures. Macpherson is perfect for the job because she looks the same as she did 30 years ago. — DPA





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