Linda Evangelista is describing the images she has of herself—among other things— on the walls of her New York apartment. “Pulling my cheeks from Steven [Meisel], crying from Peter [Lindbergh], whistling from David [Sims], the corset ... ” Of course, even with the briefest description, you can see each and every picture. Evangelista is, after all, the supermodel’s model. She wrote the book on chameleonic glamour (sadly, not yet literally, much to the chagrin of Linda obsessives everywhere). But while she has posed for the lexicon of photographers, illustrators, magazines, and campaigns over a legendary 35-year career, Evangelista had never sat for a painter. It’s funny to hear the superest of supers say she was “nervous. I kept saying to myself, ‘Linda, he wouldn’t have accepted to do this if he didn’t like you.’” She continues, “When I first sat down, Clemente said, ‘You really want to wear that dress?’ And I was like, ‘Yep, this dress is me.’ I’m very Dolce, very 1950s. I love womanly embellishment. But I didn’t know it would take five hours!” She laughs. “With my elbow out. Oh, my God.” In Clemente’s portrait, Evangelista sees an “exaggerated version of myself. I was shocked! But I thought it was beautiful. And I never think anything is beautiful.”
Evangelista, who turned 50 last year, characterises this new decade with a wry humor. “I’m managing.” The best part? “The wisdom. That sounds very cliché, but it’s true. If only I had this wisdom 30 years ago.” Worst? “It’s f*cking work! And you can quote me on that. I have every gizmo and gadget and tool from Spinning bike to Power Plate to Bosu ball to rowing machine and stretching bands and this and that.” A trainer visits Casa Evangelista five times a week. “For 15 years! And he’s cute,” she jokes. “So that helps.”
Evangelista is, yes, super diligent with her upkeep. “Today, I started with a Greek yogurt, and I put some chia and hemp in there and blueberries. I try to have my carbs midday, and at night I love vegetables. Love, love, love vegetables. I’ll have a protein with veggies.” She’s not a drinker. “Nope. I like wine; I love pairing it. But I don’t drink, no.”
For skin care, she swears by uptown New York facialist Georgia Louise. “She has magic hands! I also exfoliate a lot, and I’m a big freak for sunscreen.” To wit, Evangelista’s Instagram often features her swaddled in protective summer garb that gives her an air of Garbo. When she’s dressing up, she swears by the ageless allure of “anything Azzedine Alaïa”.
Ask what older woman she admires and her answer is swift and hilarious: “There’s not many older than me! But ... Iman. She’s just fabulous. She’s a role model to all of us. A gorgeous person.” Like Iman, Evangelista has embraced social media. Well, begrudgingly. “I was forced! My agents had an intervention where they made me sign up for Instagram. And I post, but I don’t want to share that much. I don’t know what to share.” She’s an avid follower of the social models Cara and Kendall and Gigi (“I think they’re all fabulous”), but believes that if social media had existed in the supermodel era, “I don’t think we would have needed it.”
Now that she’s in this brave new cyberworld, does Evangelista obsess about what she posts, how she comes off, how she looks? Does the ultimate model have a selfie face? “No, no,” she coos reassuringly. “I don’t need one.”