Iconic Supermodel and Businesswoman Elle Macpherson Shares Her Big A-Ha Moments

Supermodel Elle Macpherson smiling

Elle Macpherson never dreamed of being a model — or an actress, television host, or wellness guru, for that matter. With a resumé that includes five Sports Illustrated® Swimsuit Issue covers, countless runway appearances, 12 acting credits, a multi-million-dollar global health brand, and a reputation as one of the world’s most beautiful women, it’s difficult to imagine Macpherson pursuing any path but the one she’s taken during her 56 years. The truth is that these accomplishments have all been divergences from her original plan.

Growing up in Australia, the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle was instilled in Macpherson from a young age. “There was always an attitude of authentic ease and natural way of living,” she recalls. “People were strong and healthy; we are a nation that loves sport, clean lifestyle, and good food.” She was barely exposed to fashion or beauty at the time, and didn’t consider modeling to be a viable profession. Rather, she fantasized about studying law. She enrolled at Sydney UniversityTM at 17 in 1982, ready to start down that path, but needed to find a way to pay for the necessary books — so decided to defer for a year so she could model and earn money for her education. But, as she jokes, the old refrain “tell God your plans, and watch him laugh” soon rang true. After starring in a Tab® commercial that same year, Macpherson’s career took off almost overnight.

Within the next eight years, she had graced the pages of Vogue®, ELLE®, Harper’s Bazaar®, and TIME®, which famously dubbed her “The Body,” and already had three Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue  covers under her belt. She quickly became a regular on the runways of Louis Vuitton®, Christian Dior®, Valentino®, and Ralph Lauren®, and she appeared in advertising campaigns for a long list of fashion and beauty brands as well as for Diet Coke®, Budweiser®, and even KFC®

For even the most sensible individual, it’d be easy to get cocky about such instant global success. But Macpherson stayed humble by remembering where she came from. “The ‘80s and ‘90s were an interesting era — especially in the fashion industry and living between New York and Paris — but I never took myself too seriously,” she says. “Remaining authentic and cherishing my Australian roots helped keep me grounded.” She also adds that she focused on being strong rather than skinny. “I did my very best to be sure my health and wellbeing was a priority.” Her hard work paid off: Over the next three decades, Macpherson would earn her place as one of the world’s most in-demand and beloved models, with the honors and distinctions that accompany such a position. 

In addition to her massive success as a model, Macpherson has also proved she has a knack for business over the past few decades. In 1994, she started her own company, Elle Macpherson Inc.  “I reached a crossroad when I wanted to explore licensing, and there was no real formula in the “agency” business model, so I left and followed a hunch, something that just felt right,” explains Macpherson. She went on to license her name and images to a small lingerie company in return for a share of their sales. “It started very small, but lasted 25 years and grew to an exceptional-size business,” she says. This led to her launching her own lingerie collection, and ultimately, WelleCo®, which she credits as the ultimate culmination of her life’s learnings, personally and professionally. 

The plant-based nutrition brand launched six years ago, and in that time, its supplement, The Super Elixir®,  has garnered a cult following. “It took me a long time to discover that what I ingested had such a profound effect on my body’s ability to heal and thrive,” she says. “But I’ve found that when I make health and wellbeing a priority, everything falls into place, and when you feel your best, you will look your best.” (So, it may not surprise you to hear that she credits her glowing skin and incredible physique to her line’s supplements.) Keep reading to learn more about her philosophy on wellness, including how it changed when she became a mom, and how she keeps her skin so radiant and youthful.