Elle Macpherson

"The Body" is the six-foot-tall Elle Macpherson and is one of a handful of figures credited with putting the prefix "super" onto “model” But it’s her brains that have made this supermodel a formidable business woman with her signature lingerie range generating £40m a year.

Eleanor Nancy Gow was born on 29 March 1964 in Sydney, Australia, to entrepreneur and former president of a Sydney rugby league club Peter Gow and his wife Frances, who worked as a nurse. She is the eldest of four children.

Elle was just 17 when she starred in an advertisement for a low calorie drink. And it was the residual payments from its repeated showing and distribution that helped persuade her that modelling could be a lucrative profession as well as a glamorous lifestyle.

But even prior to her ascendancy to modelling fame, Macpherson was no stranger to the high life. After her parents divorced in her early teens, her mother remarried multimillionaire Neil Macpherson, the owner of a chain of stereo equipment stores.

After a brief stint studying law at Sydney University, Macpherson was "discovered" while on a ski vacation in Aspen, Colorado. A contract with Click Model Management soon followed.

Like so many of her contemporaries, it was the swimsuit edition of 'Sports Illustrated' that propelled her to public fame. The powerful, athletic Macpherson graced a record five Sports Illustrated covers. She fell in love with Gilles Bensimon, 20 years her senior, the fashion photographer and publication director at Elle (another magazine which regularly featured her) and married him in 1986 but they divorced in 1989.

In addition to appearances in the mainstay publications of the modelling world, Macpherson turned her SI success into contracts with Victoria's Secret and Playboy. For her work in the latter, she netted a whopping $25,000 per page. The spread was ten pages long. She later came third in Playboy's 'Top Ten Sexiest Legs Ever'.

For a time, Macpherson was one of the wealthiest models in the business. She marketed a series of her own photo calendars and starred in a successful fitness video. In 1995, People magazine included her in its '50 Most Beautiful People' issue.

But by the mid-1990s, she turned her attention to acting. She appeared in several films, including 'Sirens' (1995), 'Batman and Robin' (1997) and 'A Girl Thing' (2001), a miniseries for the Showtime Network. Her character was viewed as controversial as she was a young woman experimenting with bisexuality.

She also appeared in a series of episodes of the hit TV sitcom 'Friends' between 1999 and 2000. Critical response to her dramatic attempts was at best mixed, and at worst, unflattering.

In 2009, she played modeling agent Claudia Foster in 'The Beautiful Life' with Mischa Barton. It followed aspiring models working for a modeling agency in New York but it was cancelled after two episodes.

Macpherson also experienced mixed success in the business arena. Her personal line of lingerie, Elle Macpherson Intimates, is the top selling brand in Australia. However, her partnership with fellow supermodels Claudia Schiffer and Naomi Campbell in the creation of the Fashion Cafe was less fruitful. The troubled restaurant venture went into receivership in 2000.

In spring 2010, Macpherson expanded her 'Intimates' lingerie line with new underwear range 'Obsidian'.

In 1998, she and long-time boyfriend Arpad "Arkie" Busson, a French banker, had a son, Flynn. Macpherson and Busson were married in 2002 and had their second child, Aurelius Cy Andrea, in 2003, but two years later their relationship ended.

Building on her business successes with Intimates, Elle also released her own range of beauty products 'Elle Macpherson – The Body' in 2005, which sparked an appearance on the BBC's 'The Money Programme', following her in her day-to-day life running a business.

She then returned to modeling, becoming the face of Revlon cosmetics in March 2008. Macpherson signed a three-year deal to become its spokesperson and has since featured in print and TV advertising campaigns for the brand.

In July 2010, she took over from Lisa Snowdon as host of the popular British franchise of the 'Top Model' series, created by Tyra Banks. Acting as executive producer of the show, the renewed 'Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model' also features other noted fashion names Julien Macdonald and Grace Woodward.

Her version has proved a hit with viewers, and has incorporated a live final, which no other series has featured. The show continued to go from strength to strength, and its most recent winner Lauren Lambert was announced in 2013.

Macpherson also undertakes plenty of work on behalf of charities. She is a European ambassador for RED, which is an initiative set up by Bono and Bobby Shriver to eradicate disease, in particular Aids, among women and children in Africa.

She is also a UNICEF ambassador and is a representative for Smile in Australia, which helps families with children suffering rare diseases. In 2007, she modelled to raise funds for British flooding victims, wounded veterans and child welfare group Absolute Return for Kids.

Now in her 50s, Elle still regularly graces the front cover of many magazines. She spends most of her time in Britain with her two sons and recently ended her two-year relationship with multi-millionaire Jeff Sofer. However, in 2012 he was in a helicopter accident and they reconciled - they married in July 2013.