One of the most iconic models of her era, Canada's Linda Evangelista is luxuriating in a life beyond the countless international runways and 700-plus magazine covers she has graced since the 1990s. At 52, the St. Catharines, Ont., native has settled in New York to raise her 11-year-old son Augustin.
Last year, she partnered with a skincare company that produces what she feels is a "miraculous" beauty serum. Currently serving as the vice president and creative director for Erasa, Evangelista discovered the brand's XEP 30 Extreme Line Lifting and Rejuvenation Concentrate in 2015, when her esthetician's husband asked her to try the anti-aging potion and offer him feedback. Evangelista was so blown away after a few weeks – comparing the benefits of Erasa to that of Botox – that she asked to join the company.
Since then, the legendary chameleon has used her clout to convince famed art director Fabien Baron to come on board to design the company's website and create its imagery. Naturally, Evangelista also became the face of the brand, which is distributed exclusively in Canada by Holt Renfrew and sells for $250 a bottle. I recently spoke with Evangelista from her home about her new passion, the changes she's seen in fashion, and how she feels about aging.
I'm sure there have been all kinds of opportunities for you to get behind various brands, but Erasa sounds like a good fit for what you bring to the table.
It is a good fit, and it's just so nice to be able to speak about something I believe in. I mean, I'm guilty of – like everybody else – endorsing products that your heart's just not in, or endorsing something you don't use, for example.
I guess this is your way of reaching out to other women. How close do you feel to all those fans who grew up looking up to you?
Perhaps we're all in the same boat together at this point. I know we don't like to use the term 'anti-aging', and I'm 'pro-aging', but this product can be used by any age. There's no reason why there wouldn't also be a benefit for a 20-year-old. But it does bring you back a little closer to the you that you remember. I really want to grow old, and I really want to age, but this can help with confidence. It really made a difference in my skin, so I'm out there preaching because I saw a dramatic difference. It was the first time in my life that I ever approached a company myself!
At this point in your life, you could just sit back and say "been there, done that." What made you want to get involved in a project of this magnitude?
Because I saw results. I was just blown away by the product. It just felt right and it felt easy. I don't have to force myself to speak about it. I'm very enthusiastic about it. And going to the lab – oh my god, it's like school! I learned so much in the lab. I find it fascinating. I push and I push, and I just learn a lot about the beauty industry that I did not know before. I really got a lesson when I first started going, and when I found out how much value is actually going into products that we buy – I was very upset. But in Erasa, there's so much value in the bottle. Even though it's $250, which is expensive, it's very, very, multitasking and can compete with the $500 products, value-wise.
You certainly make it sound tempting…
The chemist who did the formula, Jules Zecchino, was at Estée Lauder for over 20 years. He's been around since the seventies. He did Vaseline Intensive Care lotion and a lot of game-changing formulas at Estée Lauder. He was previously at Elizabeth Arden. He's like a Steve Jobs of the beauty industry. He's a genius.
Are you glad to be a little removed from the craziness and hype of the fashion world? It certainly turned into something else, didn't it?
It sure did. It had to. The fashion world has always been about change. I just didn't know the delivery system would change so much. In creams and lotions and potions, we always talk about the delivery system. It doesn't matter how great the molecule is or isn't if the delivery system doesn't work. Fashion changed so much. Who would have thought? It's very instant everything. It's so instant that I find when you actually get to something, there's sort of a let down. What you see right now is right now. And it's already over within a few days. The pace for fashion is different. What's happening is incredible, but there's some kind of magic that has disappeared. There's a dreaming that used to exist when you looked at glossies. We weren't bomboarded with so much media. Images have never been as incredible and polished — perfect in every way. But I feel like some of the spirit is gone because it's all digital now. No film. There was much more spirit on film. We worked really hard to make those images perfect, because we didn't retouch them. Now when you go to work, I look at the screen and say, 'Oh, I need to do this…' And they're like, 'Oh no, don't worry. We'll fix that later in post-production.' I feel like I almost don't need to be there.
There's a fine line for some woman between taking care of yourself and becoming overly-obsessed by the way you look. What can you tell women to make them relax a little bit?
There's just so much judgment with social media, and then there are the trolls. I think they need to add a class in school about protecting yourself, about loving, accepting and understanding yourself. We're so affected by everything out there. And I don't know why our confidence takes a beating as we age. I don't understand why we don't embrace it, like two generations ago they embraced aging. My grandmother would look so forward to being a grandmother. But I feel when women or men look in the mirror – well, I don't think a lot of people are seeing the truth. I don't think they see how beautiful they are. I think their perceptions of themselves are distorted and I don't know why. And then contributing to that is the fact that there are so many more treatments and products available at the dermatologist and at the doctors that were not available previously. I think all of that is there to enhance you, but if you don't know when to say stop, or your doctor doesn't know when just to say stop, you could run into a problem. If people think they look better with enhancements and if that makes them happy, then I think they're beautiful. I just want people to love themselves and like who they see when they look in the mirror. That's the most important thing.