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Karen Elson

Model

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The BoF 500 is the definitive professional index of the people shaping the $2.4 trillion fashion industry, hand-selected by the editors of The Business of Fashion, based on hundreds of nominations received from current BoF 500 members, extensive data analysis and research.

Biography

The modelling veteran — with over 20 years of experience in campaigns for the likes of Chanel, Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent — believes that the fashion industry must do more to protect models from sexual harassment. Having joined the board of the Model Alliance, she aims to end the abuse of models in the form of sexual harassment and assault amid the #MeToo movement, using her influence to become a spokesperson for the movement.

In the wake of more than half a dozen claims of sexual and emotional abuse against Ryan Adams, Elson came forward in 2019 to say that she, too, had a "traumatising" experience with the singer/songwriter.

Elson started modelling as a teenager and was discovered at age 16 by the owner of Boss Models in Manchester. Elson's breakthrough came when Steven Meisel shot her for the cover of Italian Vogue on her 18th birthday. She has since worked with many of the world's most renowned fashion photographers including Peter Lindbergh , Mert and Marcus, Steven Klein , Steven Meisel and Ellen Von Unwerth.

Elson has walked the runway for a number of designers including Marc Jacobs (which she did while pregnant), Jean Paul Gaultier , Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen , Dior and Gucci. In August 2012, Elson was one of eight British models chosen to walk during a segment at the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony. She wore a gold gown by Burberry and walked with her fellow models to David Bowie's song "Fashion."

Her list of magazine covers includes multiple international editions of Vogue as well as W, Dazed & Confused, Numéro, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, Elle, Lula, Foam Magazine and Nylon. Photographed by Steven Meisel, she was presented on the September 2004 cover of American Vogue as one of the "Models of the Moment." In 2005, Elson won the British Fashion Award for Best Model.

Elson has appeared in many short films and videos, including Steven Meisel and Darren Lew's “War Opera,” Nick Knight 's Warhol-inspired series “More Beautiful Women” and his "Moving Fashion" project, as well as Craig McDean 's “48 Girls.” Elson is also a singer-songwriter, having written two full-length albums and performed with her band on the Late Show with David Letterman.

Elson featured alongside Tilda Swinton as part of the “ Tim Walker : Wonderful Things” exhibition held at the V&A in 2019.

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Vital Statistics

Born
1979
Nationality

United Kingdom

Location
United States

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