This month, the staff at FLARE have been sharing the celebrity crushes they harbour from afar—but last night I actually had dinner with mine. I’ve met a lot of celebs over the past 15 years working in the magazine biz—Beyoncé, Ryan Gosling, Miley Cyrus, Jared Leto—but I can honestly say I was the most excited about meeting Linda Evangelista, the guest of honour last night at an intimate dinner party put on by the Hudson’s Bay in Toronto in celebration of the legendary supermodel’s appearance in The Room’s spring campaign. Along with my clothes-obsessed older sister, Linda was one of the stylish gals that first got me interested in fashion.
Unlike a lot of boys in the late ’80s and early ’90s, I didn’t have posters of Michael Jordan or Nirvana on my bedroom walls; I had pictures of Linda in all her guises—and hair colours—collaged above my headboard. I was obsessed with her and would spend my free time pouring over the countless editorials and advertisements starring the St. Catharines–born stunner with the exotic bird-like looks. When George Michael’s video for “Freedom 90,” starring Linda and the other supers—Christy, Naomi, Tatjana and Cindy—first came out, I watched it on repeat. I jokingly told The Room’s buying director Nicholas Mellamphy that I might show up to the event in an oversized black turtleneck and lip-sync for my supper. (If you have no idea what I’m going on about—for shame!—see below.)
Arriving 10 minutes late for the soirée (she’d been doing a little pre-dinner perusing around The Room) and wearing a slouchy winter-white sweater with a similarly toned midi-length skirt, she was all smiles and girlish giggles as she made her way around the table, insisting on greeting everyone with a double kiss.
Although her sharp features have softened somewhat over the years (she’s 49) and she’s no longer model thin, she’s exquisite, and nobody could take their eyes off of her the whole evening. At one point during the first course we locked gazes, so I awkwardly held up the campaign’s lookbook and quickly pointed to a page where she’s modelling a conceptual Junya Watanabe piece and blurted out, “This one’s my favourite!”
As the dessert plates were being cleared, I got up the nerve to come around to her side of the table and do what I’d wanted to do all night: present her with the September 1989 edition of FLARE, which was the first issue of the magazine she ever appeared on (she’s posed for several others over the years). She squealed with delight, memories undoubtedly flooding back, and held up the issue to show her two brothers, whom she’d brought as her guests.
When I asked for a photo she gamely agreed, then took complete control of the situation, dragging me around the room until we found the best light, which turned out to be the overhead fluorescents in the bathroom. After closing the door behind us, she said, “I know this looks like terrible lighting, but trust me, it’s going to work.”
My favourite shot (shown above) from our impromptu photo session might not be the most flattering, of me anyway, but it perfectly captures her infectious spirit and my giddiness at meeting a fashion-world legend and my celebrity crush. Although I’ve grown out of creating magazine collages, I will definitely be framing this photo and placing it bedside.