Christy Nicole Turlington (born January 2, 1969) is an American model best known for representing Calvin Klein from 1987 to 2007. She has worked on dozens of modeling contracts with companies including Maybelline Cosmetics and Versace. Turlington starred in her fashion documentary Catwalk and Isaac Mizrahi’s Unzipped. She was added on as the fourth model investor, after Elle Macpherson, Naomi Campbell and Claudia Schiffer of the now defunct Fashion Cafes.
Turlington was born in Walnut Creek, California, the middle of three daughters born to Dwain Turlington, a pilot for Pan American World Airways and a flight attendant from El Salvador, María Elizabeth Parker.
She was discovered while eating cake in Miami, Florida by local photographer Dennie Cody, where her father was working as a training captain for Pan Am. Turlington began modeling after school from age 14 to 16 and during summers until she graduated from Monte Vista High School. After graduation, she moved to New York City to model full-time.
Turlington has several accomplishments in the modeling industry, having had several million dollar contracts with companies like Maybelline, Chanel and Calvin Klein. Although she is known as one of the most successful supermodels, Turlington has rejected the ‘supermodel’ label. She is widely respected in the fashion industry as one of the friendliest and most professional models in the business.
During the 1990s, she appeared in Unzipped, a documentary about fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, and the fashion mockumentary film Prêt-à-Porter by famed director Robert Altman. Additionally, she was featured in Catwalk, a documentary about her life on the fashion runways by director Robert Leacock.
Turlington also appeared in two music videos. Fellow model Yasmin Le Bon got her husband Simon LeBon of Duran Duran to feature Turlington in their ‘Notorious’ video in 1986, at the age of 16. In 1990, singer George Michael drew inspiration from Peter Lindbergh’s January 1990 British Vogue cover (which features Turlington, Campbell, Evangelista, Crawford and Patitz) for his ‘Freedom’ video. The video featured all top 5 female models along with their top 5 male counterparts, lip-syncing the song. The video was shown during George Michael’s 2008 concert tour while he sang.
She has appeared on over 500 magazine covers and has been featured in several professional photobooks, including Peter Lindbergh’s ’10 Women’, the cover of Arthur Elgort’s ‘Model Manual’, Herb Ritts ‘Man/Woman’ and Karl Lagerfeld’s ‘Off the Record’. In 1993, she posed nude for PETA’s anti-fur campaign. Also in 1993, her face was used on 120 mannequins created by Ralph Rucci for the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, causing her to be called the ‘Face of the 20th Century’.
In the 2000s, she has become a partner in a variety of business ventures: an ayurvedic skincare line (Sundari) and two clothing lines produced by Puma: Nuala, an active women’s clothing line; and Mahanuala, a women’s yoga-wear line.
On August 11, 2006, Women’s Wear Daily reported that Turlington had signed a multiyear contract with Maybelline, marking her return to the company that made her famous with its ‘Maybe She’s Born With It’ ad campaign from 1992-1998.
In honor of Turlington’s fortieth birthday, W magazine put together an online slideshow of iconic images from her career, from runway shots from the late eighties to today.
As of 2008, Turlington has been making brief visits to Africa on behalf of Product Red and to Latin America on behalf of CARE (relief agency). Her involvement with CARE was influenced by her mother Elizabeth, who has been a longtime CARE supporter through her former flight attendants’ organization, World Wings. The FEMME project, a coming together of CARE, Columbia University, and local government, brings health-care practitioners together to find better methods of serving the large number of women needing assistance who are too intimidated to seek help in a clinic or traditional hospital.
Turlington appears several times a year on the Today show discussing her charity work. She also appeared on Martha Stewart’s show on February 13, 2007.
Turlington is an avid yoga practitioner, and studied with Larry Schultz and Johannas Van Vugtin in San Francisco. Turlington is the author of Living Yoga: Creating A Life Practice. Owing to this interest in Eastern religions she went back to school in 1994 and graduated cum laude in 1999 from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study of New York University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentration in Comparative Religion and Eastern Philosophy. She appeared on Late Night with David Letterman in 1999 to discuss her schooling. Despite this interest, she has remained a practicing Roman Catholic since childhood. Previously a vegetarian, she has gone back to being a meat-eater. An ex-smoker whose father died of lung cancer, Turlington is also an anti-smoking activist and an ambassador for CARE.
Turlington dated actors Christian Slater, and Jason Patric. In late 2000 she met actor/director/writer Edward Burns at a Hamptons party and within weeks, the two of them were engaged. After postponing their October 2001 Italian wedding due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, just blocks from where they lived in New York City, they broke up. The couple re-united and married on June 7, 2003. It was also the fifth anniversary of her father’s death from lung cancer. Despite numerous erroneous media reports, Turlington was not given away by good friend Bono. Bono attended the San Francisco wedding but Christy said, “He (Bono) was there, of course, but I gave myself away. I mean, I was 25 weeks pregnant at the time. Eddie met me halfway down the aisle.” Burns and Turlington have two children: a daughter Grace born October 25, 2003, and a son Finn born February 11, 2006. Christy’s sister Kelly is married to Edward’s brother Brian Burns, and together they also have a son born in early 2008. The family resides in New York City, near Ed Burns old loft that was formerly owned by John F. Kennedy Jr. It is not known whether Ed still owns this loft or if it was sold.
As of 2009, Turlington was studying for a master’s degree in public health at Columbia University.