Linda Evangelista has come a long way in one year. Back in September 2021, the supermodel, who had been missing from the public eye for quite some time, took to Instagram to reveal what drove her into near-hiding—a cosmetic procedure had left her “permanently deformed,” in her words. The admission led to an overflow of support from Evangelista’s friends in the fashion industry, and by 2022 she was back in front of the camera, first in an interview with People, and then in a campaign for Fendi. Now, Evangelista has reached the pinnacle of her return—the cover of British Vogue’s September issue—where the model is opening up more about the entire saga.
In an interview punctuated with photos from Evangelista’s longtime friend, Steven Meisel, the model explained what initially led her to get the ultimately disastrous CoolSculpting procedure in the first place. What it came down to was seemingly the age-old curse of insecurity. Evangelista explained that she couldn’t seem to escape CoolSculpting commercials as she watched TV. “They would ask, ‘Do you like what you see in the mirror?’ They were speaking to me,” she said. “It was about stubborn fat in areas that wouldn’t budge. It said no downtime, no surgery and… I drank the magic potion, and I would because I’m a little vain.” Now, though, she obviously has regrets.
“If I had known side effects may include losing your livelihood and you’ll end up so depressed that you hate yourself, I wouldn’t have taken that risk,” she said.
Following the initial failed procedure, Evangelista turned to liposuction and other treatments for a quick fix, to no avail. “I have incisions all over my body. I have had stitches, I have worn compression garments under my chin, I’ve had my entire body tightly girdled for eight weeks – nothing helped,” she explained. At that point, her son, Augustin James Evangelista, started to notice the change in his mom, not necessarily the physical difference, but her changed demeanor. “What really stabbed me in the heart was when he said to me, ‘Remember when you used to be so much fun? Remember when you used to laugh all the time?’” she recalled. “It was such an innocent comment. That was a lot to handle.”
Now that her lawsuit against Zeltiq Aesthetics, the company behind CoolSculpting, is settled and she has told her story, Evangelista says she’s “so happy now,” though she clarifies that she’s not “cured mentally.” And while Evangelista is back to work, some things are going to be different. “You’re not going to see me in a swimsuit, that’s for sure,” she said. “It’s going to be difficult to find jobs with things protruding from me; without retouching, or squeezing into things, or taping things or compressing or tricking…”
Evangelista clarified that the British Vogue photos came with a touch of all of that. Make-up artist Pat McGrath “gently drew her face, jaw and neck back with tape and elastics,” according to the story. But for Evangelista, these tricks are just part of the territory. “Look, for photos I always think we’re here to create fantasies,” she said. “We’re creating dreams. I think it’s allowed. Also, all my insecurities are taken care of in these pictures, so I got to do what I love to do.”