How big a gap there was between this paroxysmal female body and the concomitant threat it represents. “My femininity had been exposed, exacerbated, and suddenly I found myself “castrated” in the midst of this upward momentum. It was by no means innocuous. It was very disturbing.”
“My mother was a beautiful, very feminine woman. It had an almost inhibiting effect on the little girl that I was,” remembers Morgane. “I learnt to feel comfortable in my body thanks to my profession: once I was made-up, with my hair done and clad in designer clothes, I assumed my role.” The chrysalis soon began to play the game and her career took off. She appeared on one catwalk after another and worked for the biggest names in fashion. Her body became her ally, so much so that she joined the very select coterie of Victoria’s Secret Angels. Her body was recognised as one of the world’s most beautiful, the supreme incarnation of femininity. The ultimate symbol.
But Morgane is more than just a body. She has her head screwed on right too. Brought up to believe that physical appearance isn’t all that matters, she politely declined the first modelling offers she was made when she was only sixteen, deciding that it was more important to pass her (science sector) baccalaureate first. On leaving school, she was planning on entering a higher education programme, when she launched herself into the fashion arena, regarding this as a holiday job to pay her rent when she became a student. Due to her maturity and knowledge of the French fashion business – her mother was a keen Gaultier fan and had given her a solid grounding – her modelling career took off like a rocket. So much so that she opted for the catwalks instead of the lecture theatre. Years later, her mother’s illness and her own future prospects led her to question herself about her femininity. She decided to start afresh by resuming her studies in art history “an end in itself, unlike modelling”.
Yet after a final show for the American lingerie brand, Morgane gradually gave up modelling: her mother had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Flying back and forth between France and the US every week was incompatible with spending time with her during this ordeal. Her grandmother had died from the same illness. Morgane then learnt that she also had inherited the same BRCA1 gene – now notorious because it affects Angelina Jolie – which means that, if she doesn’t choose to have her ovaries removed around the age of forty, she is likely to develop the disease too.
And what about motherhood? When she was pregnant, Morgane put on twenty kilos, which she gradually shed after Joe’s birth. She quickly learned how to get her own body back. It had given her an unusual destiny. “I probably would have been able to make my way by doing something completely different. But then this body also let me miss ten years of studies!” she says with a smile. Yet, in her eyes, it is neither a burden nor an obsession. “I didn’t choose it; I cannot do anything about it and so I don’t dwell on it too much. I became a model because I met certain criteria in a certain era. I am not an example of universal beauty.” She feels a lot more comfortable in her body at thirty than at twenty and getting older poses no problem for her – I dream of the day that I’ll become a great-grandmother”! She considers herself totally unlike female stereotypes and admits that her more voluptuous friends attract far more attention from men than she does. She even admits that, like all women, she has several complexes.
This photo session with Joe, her sunnynatured little daughter, was a big first for Morgane. “I wouldn’t have done it if she were older. Turning her into a mini miss is not one of my plans,” she says. Today, at two and a half, she’ll think this shoot is a fun game. And it’ll give us both some nice memories!” When she’s with Joe, their differences make her happier than their similarities. “Joe’s got my head, but I’m delighted that she’s fairhaired with blue eyes, quite the opposite of me!” Of course she thinks she’s the prettiest little girl ever, but mostly she tells her how wonderfully kind and fabulously funny she is!