Angela Lindvall is the antithesis of a supermodel. As our STEPHEN CHRISTOPHER discovers, this simple Midwestern girl at heart is more comfortable tending her sustainable garden or helping environmental causes than shooting for the cover of this, or any magazine, and how it was her darkest hour that brought her to the light.
When I mention to Angela Lindvall that she really needs to meet Kelly Emberg, the other model-mother-turned-sustainable-gardening-guru, she gets really quiet. “Do you know what’s so funny?” she says softly, like she’s about to reveal a family secret, “I’m related to Kelly Emberg.” What? Really? How? “Yes, my grandfather on my mother’s side—she’s his cousin’s daughter. He used to brag about Kelly and show us photos of her when we were little, and then, lo and behold, I became a model.”
Well, please allow me to clarify. Angela didn’t just become a model. Like Kelly, she became a supermodel, and like Kelly, she graced the covers of every major fashion magazine like Vogue, W, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and Marie Claire. Angela’s likeness sold millions, or who knows, maybe it was billions, by appearing in ad campaigns for Fendi, Chanel, Christian Dior, Tommy Hilfiger, Versace, Prada, Jimmy Choo, DKNY, Chloe, Hermès, Valentino and Louis Vuitton. Though Kelly and Angela have yet to exchange bok choy recipes, I’m sure they will.
Angela was born in the Midwest—literally. Midwest City, Oklahoma in 1979, and started modeling at 14. To prove even supermodels aren’t immune to hurtful adolescent cruelty, Angela shares, “Oh yeah, I had the skinniest legs ever and never wore skirts or shorts. I got ‘chicken legs.’ ‘Knock-knees.’ I got ‘Beanpole’—shortened to ‘Bean.’ I’m still ‘Bean’ to my sister. I was always the skinniest, tallest girl and was so insecure about it. I used to kick my hip out and hunch my shoulders to try to make myself inches shorter. Thank goodness I became a model, because if not, I would have serious scoliosis like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
Today, Angela proudly stands at 5’-11,” or call it 6’-3” in her Jimmy Choos. The philanthropist, who founded The Collage Foundation, an environmentally conscious cause that worked with the Rockland Farm Alliance to help smaller urban farmers get the same tax benefits as the large ones, rings me from her seven-acre, sacrosanct compound in Topanga Canyon that she shares with her boyfriend of two years, and sons, Dakota, 12, and Sebastian, 11. She paints the picture: “I’m standing amongst a field of Lavender bushes under clear blue skies. There are lots of birds, although I also just saved one out of my cat’s mouth. There’s an ancient oak tree, and the roses are in full bloom.”
Angela also nurtures a vegetable garden and small fruit orchard where, she explains, gardening is a metaphor for life. “Right now it’s time to pull everything up, to harvest and replant, but before we can plant the seeds, we have to prepare our soil, or we’re not going to get a great return. It’s like that with everything in life. You’ve got to do the preparation…then plant the seeds, which are like the ideas. Then we give them water and sunlight, and through our love and labor we get the fruit.”
Besides being immersed in nature, Angela practices Kundalini yoga (her teacher, Sukhdev Jackson, actually lives on Angela’s grounds), and she speaks in spiritual contexts of ‘life forces’ and ‘maternal energy.’ In many ways, she finds her longstanding modeling career greatly contrasts her real life. “The challenging part of being a model for me is that our industry celebrates beauty and creativity, but at the same time there’s this aspect where we’re sexualized and objectified, which has nothing to do with a woman’s true power—that power lies within her and in her grace.”
And the whole idea of fame troubles her. “I never wanted to be on the cover of any magazine, because I really didn’t want to be famous. The idea of fame has always terrified me. I really value my privacy. I want the freedom of going to Whole Foods to do my own grocery shopping and not be bothered.”
Even her first Vogue cover—the one photographed by Arthur Elgort—was more like an out-of-body experience than something she could get excited about. “It’s funny, but even to this day I have a hard time associating myself with the model Angela Lindvall. I’m so removed. I would see my work and it would seem so strange. I’d go to the grocery store with my mom, who would pick up a copy of Vogue in the checkout line and say unashamedly, ‘Oh, you’re in this issue?’ I’d tell her, ‘Mother! Please don’t do that again, it’s so embarrassing!’”
Angela grew up one of five girls. In 2006, her 23-year-old sister, Audrey, a successful model herself, was tragically hit and killed by a fuel tanker while riding her bicycle in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. To make matters worse, Angela was in the midst of a divorce. “You know, I think it was after going through this most painful, deepest darkness, where my heart broke completely open that I discovered love and bliss.
It’s not about finding love or getting love from another person. It’s about finding love within ourselves and having appreciation for the simplest things in life. Like lying in the hammock with my boys and looking up at the sky. I discovered that the happiest times of my life come from my being really present in the moment. I found that love is everywhere and accessible if we just open our hearts to it.”
Two years ago Angela found some of that love—or rather, he found her. “Chris was assisting on a photo shoot and they sent him to pick me up for it. He showed up on my doorstep in a white pickup truck. It’s funny, but my son Dakota had just been lecturing me, saying, ‘Mom, you’ve got to get out there and start dating because no one is going to show up at the front doorstep.’ Two weeks later, and there he was.”
Art Direction: Stephen Kamifuji
Photography by Tracey Morris / OliveHead.com
Stylist: Bruno Lima / Exclusive Artists Management
Makeup: Annie Ing / One Represents
Hair: Aaron Light / CelestineAgency.com
Manicure: Fairy Adabi / TheEyebrowBoutique.com
Digital Tech: Robert Morris
Lighting Assistant: Darren Stone
Stylist’s Assistants: Jenn Edelson, Kiki Herburger
Location: The Lodge Beverly Hills / LodgeBeverlyHills.com