Supermodel Linda Evangelista has opened up about the guilt she felt at not speaking out about her experience in her marriage to a man who later was at the centre of multiple allegations as part of the fashion industry’s Me Too moment.
The Canadian supermodel, 58, appeared on the first episode of Kirsty Young’s new BBC Radio 4 podcast Young Again where she reflected on her marriage to Gerald Marie at the age of 22, and branded her younger self an ‘idiot’ for tying the knot so young.
She broke down in tears when she discussed allegations of rape and sexual misconduct against her ex-husband, the former boss of Elite Models, which first surfaced in 2020. The allegations, which Marie denies, relate to the 1980s and 1990s and, due to a statute of limitations in France, police announced earlier this year that they were closing the investigation.
Speaking about the allegations now, Evangelista, who was married to Marie for five years, said she wonders if things could have been different had she spoken up about the abuse she claims to have suffered at his hands at the time.
Through tears, she told Young: ‘If I would have spoken up and said something about what was happening to me that maybe they would have come forward at that time and the statute of limitations wouldn’t have worn out.’
Canadian supermodel Linda Evangelista, 58, revealed in conversation with Kirsty Young that she felt ‘guilty’ when she learnt about sexual assault allegations against her ex-husband
She added she felt ‘guilty’ for not saying something sooner – however Young was quick to point out she should not shoulder the blame for things her ex-husband has allegedly done.
As the supermodel recalled marrying Marie when she was 22 years old and he was 37, she said: ‘I was so certain that this man loved me this charming, charming, lovely man.’
She added she was ‘naive’ and encouraged any young women in the same situation today to ‘listen to your parents’ as she wishes she had done at the time.
At the time the allegations against her ex-husband surfaced, the supermodel came out in support of Marie’s accusers and praised them for speaking out.
Gerald Marie and Linda Evangelista (pictured) married when she was 22 and he was 37 – but in 2020, Marie became the subject of several sexual assault allegations from other models
Evangelista is the first guest on Kirsty Young’s new BBC Radio 4 podcast Young Again, which invites famous faces to reflect on their youths
In an AppleTV+ series released last month, Evangelista further revealed the models accusing her ex-husband had given her the ‘courage’ to speak out but that their allegations ‘broke my heart’.
She stated in documentary The Super Models: ‘Thanks to the power of all these women coming forward, God bless all of them, it gave me the courage now to speak…
‘I would love that justice be served. I would love for a–holes like that to think twice and be afraid and I would love women to know that they’re not alone.’
As she revealed her guilt to the podcast host, Evangelista added she has undergone therapy to come to terms with the allegations against her ex-husband, and has learnt that none of the accusations about his behaviour are down to any of her own actions.
At the end of the episode, a statement from Gerald Marie, issued by his legal team, read: ‘Allegations that he committed crimes against models in the 1980s and 1990s are false and defamatory.’ It added that he ‘is and will remain innocent’.
In relation to the claims he was abusive towards Evangelista during their five year marriage, Marie’s lawyers say he ‘firmly objects to the defamatory and false allegations made against him’.
Elsewhere in the podcast, which is the first in Kirsty Young’s new series and her first radio venture since stepping down as the host of Desert Island Discs since being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, Evangelista discusses a horrifying experience that happened to her when she was just 16 years old and first entering the modelling world.
She recalled visiting Tokyo, Japan alone (and expressed surprise that her ‘strict Italian parents’ allowed her to go) where she was due to meet with a modelling agency.
However, when she arrived, Evangelista claimed she was asked to strip off so her measurements could be taken – despite the fact such details were already on her casting card.
She claimed she was then asked if she would be interested in ‘nude photos’ and knew that she had to ‘get out of there’.
The supermodel said she left the casting studio and desperately tried to call her mother from a payphone on the street – but a kind man, who saw her struggling with coins, offered to let her use his phone. When she finally got through to her parents, they ordered her to come straight home.
Looking back on her younger modelling days, Evangelista also expressed regrets she had over how she spoken at the time – referring to a now notorious quote for which she is often remembered.
In the October 1990 issue of Vogue, she said: ‘We have this expression, Christy [Turlington] and I. We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day.’
As she now reflects on the quote, which received backlash at the time, Evangelista admitted she regrets saying it because ‘it didn’t sound nice’ and joked that ‘it won’t go away’ as people still bring it up in reference to her career 33 years later.
However, she explained she never meant for the quote to be taken in the context it was, and insisted she only ever wanted to say that she understood her worth.
‘I don’t want to be known for that, I don’t want that to be my legacy,’ she said.
After shooting to fame in the 1980s for her stunning looks, Evangelista also spoke to Young about body image following a difficult few years when she fell into ‘the lowest depths of self-loathing’ after being left ‘brutally disfigured’ by Zeltiq’s CoolSculpting fat freezing procedure.
CoolSculpting is the brand name for cryolipolysis, a procedure which cools fat to a temperature so frozen, dead fat cells can be excreted out of the body through the liver.
Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2010, cryolipolysis was first offered in UK clinics shortly afterwards. It has proved both popular and successful for many patients looking to reduce fat without the surgeon’s knife.
Last year, after keeping a low profile for several years, the supermodel revealed the effects she had suffered from her rare adverse reaction to the procedure in an interview with People Magazine. She has since settled a $50 million lawsuit with Zeltiq.
Addressing her side effects with Young, Evangelista said: ‘If somebody would have told me there’s a very, very, very slim chance, instead of the fat freezing and melting away and you eliminate it, it’s going to grow, bigger and it’s going to be rock hard, do you still want to do this, Linda? I think the answer would have been no. I wouldn’t have risked my livelihood.’
She added that, after suffering the rare side effects, she tried to research other people who had been affected in the same way, but there was ‘nothing out there’.
Reflecting on the fact that she does not have her old figure back even after two attempts to correct it through liposuction, the supermodel said she’s learning to live with, and love, her new body.