Referred to tellingly as "The Body" in her native Australia, Elle Macpherson's formidable six-foot frame has graced enough covers of Sports Illustrated to make the auburn-haired model-turned-actress synonymous with the words "Swimsuit Issue." Despite a youthful passion for ballet, Macpherson claims she was a classic tree-climbing tomboy as a young girl growing up Down Under. The eldest of four children of a well-off Sydney family, she witnessed her parents divorce at fourteen (born Eleanor Gow, Elle adopted the surname of Macpherson when her mother remarried soon after). Macpherson enrolled in Sydney University's pre-law program (no doubt on the encouragement of her barrister stepfather), but her future in law was cut short after a single year of study when she discovered she had a ready talent for promoting an athletic-yet-voluptuous new standard for print models. A career in modeling had never even crossed her mind before the leggy eighteen-year-old was "discovered" while vacationing in Aspen, Colorado, and was promptly signed to the Click modeling agency.
Before too long, the young Aussie became a mainstay at Elle magazine, the pages of which she graced monthly for six years. Macpherson consolidated her staying power at the publication by marrying the magazine's creative director, Gilles Bensimon, twenty years her senior, at the age of twenty-one. Three consecutive years fronting the cover of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue and producing a series of exercise videos for the publication proved that Macpherson was equally appealing to the male magazine-buying demographic. Eventually, Macpherson earned the illustrious title of "supermodel," entering the then-elite pantheon of universally familiar models Christie Brinkley, Paulina Porizkova, and Cindy Crawford. All the hoopla surrounding her gangbuster modeling career attracted the attention of the ever-vigilant Australian tourism commission. Recognizing in the supermodel a lucrative, and far more fetching, companion emblem of life Down Under to Paul "Crocodile Dundee" Hogan, the commission offered Macpherson a position as a promoter of tourism in Western Australia.