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Elle Macpherson ( ; born 29 March 1963) is an Australian model, actress, and businesswoman. She is perhaps best known for her record five cover appearances for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue beginning in the 1980s. She is also known as the founder and primary model for a series of business ventures including Elle Macpherson Intimates, a lingerie line, and "The Body", a line of skin care products. According to Forbes, MacPherson possesses assets around 60 million pounds sterling.


Early life

Macpherson was born in the Cronullamarker neighborhood of Sydney, Australiamarker, and she was the daughter of Peter Gow, a former president of a Sydney rugby league team, the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks. Her mother Frances worked as a nurse before she married. Elle reportedly grew up in Killaramarker, a North Shore suburb of Sydney, and she attended the Killara High Schoolmarker. Elle is the eldest of four children including the activist and sometimes model, Mimi Macpherson. Macpherson’s parents divorced when she was 10 years old, and she was moved away with her mother and two siblings. Her mother later remarried, and a clerical mistake in registering at her new school meant that her name was changed from her father's, Gow, to her stepfather's, Macpherson.

Rise to fame

At the age of 17, planning to follow in her stepfather's footsteps, since he was an attorney. Elle enrolled to study the law at the Sydney University. Before beginning her college studies, Elle visited the United States with the intent of spending one year doing modeling work in order to earn money to pay for her college education. Macpherson traveled to New York City, where she initially signed up with the Click Model Management company. This became the beginning of a 25-year stay in modelling work.

Macpherson's modelling career began in 1982 with a television commercial for the "Tab" brand soda which established her as a something of a "girl next door" figure in Australia. By 1986, Time Magazine had already put her on the cover (with a feature entitled "The Big Elle"). By that time, she had also appeared on the covers of Elle magazine, GQ, Harper's Bazaar, Vogue magazine, and Playboy.

Already possessing some widespread name recognition, Macpherson cemented her high profile through frequent appearances in Elle magazine, where she appeared in every issue for six straight years. During that time she got married when she was 21 to the "Elle" Creative Director Gilles Bensimon.

Eventually she gained even more exposure through Sports Illustrated magazine's annual Swimsuit Issue. She appeared on the cover a record five times, in 1986, 1987, 1988, 1994, and 2006. Her popularity had reached such a level that Australian government offered her a position on its tourist commission as an unofficial ambassador.

Business career

In the 1980s, together with Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Paulina Porizkova and Cindy Crawford, Macpherson became part of the new generation of "supermodels". In 1994, she left her agency, Ford Models, to work more lucratively for her own company, Elle Macpherson Inc. This company would serve as a financial and organizational base for her later endeavors.

MacPherson soon went on to produce her own highly popular series of calendars, each of which was accompanied by a "making of" television program in 1992, 1993, and 1994. She used this success as a springboard to create the "Your Personal Best -- The Body" series of workout videos.

Macpherson later diversified her portfolio of businesses, and in 1990 launched her lingerie collection 'Elle Macpherson Intimates' in partnership with Bendon Limited Apparel. Intimates met with remarkable international success, becoming the single best-selling lingerie line in both Great Britain and Australia Breaking the mould of many models, Macpherson took an active role in the development and management of the company, serving as Chief Marketing Officer and later Creative Director. While nursing her second child, she spearheaded the development of a signature maternity bra line. Intimates has retained a high brand recognition into the 2000s, appearing as a featured brand on America's Next Top Model.

More recently, MacPherson created her own label of beauty products: 'Elle Macpherson - The Body'. She has launched or served as spokesmodel for campaigns by Boots, Invisible Zinc, and Hot Tuna.

The BBC-TV series The Money Programme aired a documentary which followed the supermodel-turned-entrepreneur Macpherson through her day-to-day business as she continued to develop her international lingerie business.

In March 2008, Elle signed a three-year spokesperson deal with Revlon cosmetics. She has since been featured in print and advertising campaigns for that company; it has been announced by Macpherson herself that she would expand her underwear line by creating a new Lingerie Collection baptised 'Obisidion' which would be launched in Spring 2010.

Acting career

Macpherson made her movie debut playing an artist's model in the 1994 Sirens, which also starred Hugh Grant, Sam Neill, Tara Fitzgerald, Kate Fischer, and Portia de Rossi. Macpherson gained nine kg (20 lbs.) to disguise her athletic frame for the period role. After Sirens, Macpherson followed with a to-year series of acting roles, appearing in films such as Woody Allen’s Alice, Batman & Robin alongside George Clooney, The Edge with Anthony Hopkins, and The Mirror Has Two Faces with Barbra Streisand.

In 1999, Macpherson appeared in five episodes of the American TV series Friends, as Joey's roommate and girlfriend, Janine Lecroix. Macpherson went on to act in the movie Jane Eyre with William Hurt, and she has also appeared alongside Ben Stiller and Sarah Jessica Parker in If Lucy Fell. Her most controversial acting was in the Showtime cable network miniseries, A Girl Thing, in which she plays a woman experimenting with bisexuality along with Kate Capshaw.

Elle played the modeling agent, "Claudia Foster" in the "CW"-network drama series, The Beautiful Life, appearing with Mischa Barton, Sara Paxton and Corbin Bleu. The show centered on aspiring models working for a modeling agency, trying to make it big in New York City, and in the Fashion World. The show was canceled after two episodes.

Extortion attempt

On 12 July and 23, 1997, William Ryan Holt and Michael Mischler broke into Ms. Macpherson's Los Angeles house while she was away on business in Chicago. This pair of criminals stole an estimated $100,000 worth of jewelery, $6,000 in cash, and some nude photographs. The two were arrested on 4 August 1997.

Mischler, 29, pled guilty to one count of attempted extortion and one count of burglary. He received a six-year and eight-month prison sentence. Holt, 26, a former U.S. Air Force enlisted man and a military-justice convict out on parole, pled guilty to one count of extortion, and he was sentenced to one year in prison.

Humanitarian and philanthropic work

Macpherson is a European Ambassador for RED, an initiative set up by Bono and Bobby Shriver to raise money and awareness for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to help eradicate AIDS for women and children in Africa; she is also an ambassador for UNICEF. In her native Australia, she is an ambassador for the Smile Foundation, which helps the families of children with rare diseases and organizes government research grants.

Personal life

After briefly dating the singer–songwriter Billy Joel, Macpherson met Gilles Bensimon in 1982 on a photo-session for Elle magazine. This couple was married in 1985, but they got divorced in 1989.

Elle Macpherson has two sons with her former long-term boyfriend, the French financier Arpad Busson as their father, whom she never married. Her sons are Arpad Flynn Alexander Busson (born 14 February 1998), and Aurelius Cy Andrea Busson (born 4 February 2003). The two parents started their romantic relationship in 1995, they became engaged in August 2002, but they called off the wedding in July 2005. .

Macpherson currently resides most of the time in the United Kingdom along with her two sons.

Elle speaks English and French fluently, and she is somewhat conversational in Italian and Spanish.


Year Film
1990 Alice
1994 Sirens
1996 Jane Eyre
If Lucy Fell
The Mirror Has Two Faces
1997 Batman & Robin
The Edge
1998 With Friends Like These...
2000 Friends
2001 A Girl Thing
South Kensington
The Beautiful Life (TV 2009-2009)

Further reading


  1. timeout magazine "Colourful Sydney Identity #50" - 19 November 2008, edition
  2. Above Magazine, Fall 2008. "Body Talk with Elle Macpherson," p. 16-31
  3. Telegraph Magazine, 1 September 2001, Pages 40-45. By the age of 17, Macpherson had blossomed into a tall, lovely young woman, and she enrolled at a Sydney modeling agency.
  5. ES Magazine, Evening Standard, 23 April 2004, p. 30-33 "Before starting college, Elle went on a skiing trip to Aspen, Colorado. On the way home, she was persuaded by her Australian modeling booker to stop off in New York City to see if she could get some work. She stayed for 20 years, marrying the photographer Gilles Bensimon at 21. She was his muse, but the age difference (He as 20 years older) proved to be too great, and they divorced six years later (1989).”
  7. The Daily Mail, Sunday You Magazine, 15 September 2002, p. 28-33: The "Elle" calendar became a worldwide hit, and a new version has been produced twice since, while her 1995 video, Your Personal Best Workout: The Body, was also a bestseller."
  8. The Sunday Times Business, 23 March 2008, p. 17: “Macpherson, supermodel-turned-lingerie queen, has made that her leitmotif. Elle Macpherson Intimates range is the biggest selling brand of fashion lingerie in Britain.”
  9. Tatler, July 2002, vol. 297, num. 7, p. 98-107 : “We’re going through Elle’s underwear. This is what she does. She designs knickers and bras. She's very good at it, very successful. It makes her more money than modeling, and Elle has made a lot of money modeling.”
  10. Wall Street Journal Europe, Style Journal, Winter 2006 Edition, p. 36-42: "And so, Macpherson made the transition from model, to designer and chief marketing officer for the growing product line. The company credits her with the ideas for many products, including its successful maternity-bra line, which Macpherson designed while nursing her second child.”
  14. Vogue
  15. ^ Elle Macpherson's New Lingerie Collection, Obsidion
  16. Elle Macpherson - Biography
  18. The Smoking Gun
  20. GQ Australia, Winter 2006, p. 90-99: “I am working on projects like my ex's education program [ARK, a charity that funds schools for needy children world-wide], with Bono and the American Express RED project - which is all about poverty and AIDS support - and UNICEF's breast-feeding program.”
  21. Wall Street Journal Europe Style Journal, Winter 2006 Edition, p. 42

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