To her surprise, Macpherson started getting modeling work almost as soon as she arrived in New York. She kept thinking that it was going to end any day. Two weeks went by. A month. She told her parents she'd be home before school started. She told her boyfriend in Sydney to wait. She felt the whole thing was some sort of mix-up, and any morning someone at the agency would hand her a plane ticket home. "I always had a physical-inferiority complex," she says. "I don't see what people see in me. It's still mind-boggling that I am able to fool half the American population into thinking I'm something special."
She found that she liked the work, and enjoyed the travel, the people. She flew back to Australia, gathered her things and moved to New York. She met Bensimon during a shoot in Tahiti in 1984, although it was anything but love at first sight. He was 21 years older, French, a photographer and living with another woman. She's 6 feet tall, he's 5'10". "He was not the Prince Charming that you dream about," she says. "I tried to get rid of him, but he hung around."
They married in 1986, and they now split their time between an apartment in Paris, a house in the French countryside, and New York. "I'm as much Australian as I am French or American," she says. "I try to retain the positive aspects of all three countries. I'm not a women's libber. In France, the man is dominant but with enormous respect for the woman. I love all the privileges and pains that come with being a woman. I love it when my husband stands up when I come into a room. I love to wear makeup, to do my hair. I love clothes. I always wear a dress at night, always, always."
You do not remind her that she's now wearing blue silk pajamas and has not seen a dress all day long. Then again, the night is young. Who knows what lies ahead for Elle? You make a mental note that you have two hours to catch the last shuttle to Boston—to miss this flight would cost you the marital equivalent of your kneecaps—and help yourself to a bit of the thinly sliced venison sausage that has been hand carried from a butcher in France. Macpherson, too, digs in with dignified gusto. A model who approves of beer and red meat. Life with Elle is curiouser and curiouser.
"I try to have a good balance of life," she says. "Not to be too obsessive. If you feel like it, do it. Life should be a bit of this and a bit of that."
The Australian philosophy, all the way. To keep in shape, for example, she goes for 45-minute jogs three to seven days a week, depending on her mood. She swims in the summer, an hour's worth of laps two or three times a week. She skips breakfast, lunches lightly in the U.S., more seriously in Paris, and eats sumptuously in the evening. "I'm not too ambitious," she says. "I don't work nearly as hard as I could. Ambition is fine, but it can also be destructive. Ambition can give you blinders that close the angle of your regard. My goal is to open the angle of my regard every day."
You glance at your watch and realize if you do not get a move on, your personal angle of regard may be severely limited. Time is short. In 2� hours, you have not even mentioned the word swimsuits.
So you ask her. Swimsuits. Which are your favorite swimsuits?
"I practically don't even have any bathing suits," Macpherson says with a laugh. "I haven't been to a beach in America since I don't know when. It isn't worth it. People who recognize me always think I don't look that good in real life." She shrugs. "That's fine with me. Let them deal with the dreams."
You, too, shrug. You say good night and close the door on another day in the life of a sportswriter. Dreams, you know well, are for dreamers and bachelors. You, like Elle Macpherson, are different. You have a plane to catch.