During the Nineties, Claudia Schiffer was one of the most recognised and desired faces in business. Now, at 39, she is more in demand than ever.
Claudia is tall. Very tall. Strapping, in fact, with pin-thin legs that really do seem to go all the way up to her armpits. And she is, above all, disarmingly beautiful. Aged 39, and after two babies, her body -all 90-60-90 of it- packs a punch. "It's Pilates", she insists. "Do you do it? You have to. It's the first time that I have every seen my body change." She is perhaps the thinnest she has ever been; those once-soft, enviable curves have transformed into taut, strong angles. In short, her body is a product of out-and-out discipline. "I have always worked out, and I've gone through different phases of yoga, but the combination of Pilates three days a week with yoga is incredible" . No kidding.
Born into a wealthy family - her father was a lawyer in Rheinberg, Germany-the gangly 17-year-old Claudia was discovered in a disco in Dusseldorf. "I didn't consider myself to be beautiful. I wasn't one of the popular, pretty girls in school. After I was discovered, and ddid the test shots, I was sure that they would realise they had made a mistake and send me back."
She moved in Paris and, although French was her best subject at school, she spent the first few weeks not understanding a word and speaking to no one. "I remember hoping that I wouldn't get picked for jobs. I would be seated with other girls, praying they got booked." Her prayers went unanswered.
Schiffer's meteoric rise to fame came courtesy of a lucrative Guess jeans campaign, a prestigious three-year Revlon contract worth $10 million and , as luck would have it, an industry "father figure" in the shape of Karl Lagerfeld, who convinced her to walk in Chanel's 1990 haute-couture show. "When she started, people thought she was a kind of a new Bardot." says Lagerfeld. "In fact, she was not. I have always thought she was very different from any other girl. She had, and still has, a unique eclat, as the French say."
That she was unique was made manifest as soon as she arrived for the Chanel fitting, where her womanly curves were genuinely surprising. "Catwalk models were traditionally very boyish," she recalls. "All i remember was the exasperated tailor who kept complaining, "I don't know what to do with the bust! The corset doesn't fit, nothing closes we have to open everything up again!" The press went wild because I was this new thing on the catwalk, " she adds, " and I had the craziest walk you have ever seen..."