Christy Nicole Turlington Burns is an American model, philanthropist and documentary filmmaker, best known for becoming the face of Calvin Klein’s Eternity fragrance in the 1980s. She began her modelling career at the age of 14 and appeared on the cover of ‘German Vogue’ in 1987. At 18, she dropped out of high school to become a full-time model and moved to New York City. Two years later, she became the new face of Calvin Klein. At 22, she walked the runway for Versace along with four other models, who collectively started the fashion phenomenon, later known as ‘supermodels’. At the age of 30, she went back to school and earned a B.A. degree while continuing her modelling career. She has so far appeared on more than 500 magazine covers and has walked the runways for some of the world’s top fashion houses. In 2013, she founded her organization ‘Every Mother Counts’, which aims at improving maternal health and preventing deaths during childbirth.
Childhood & Early Years
Christy Nicole Turlington Burns was born on 2 January 1969 in Walnut Creek, California. Her father Dwain Turlington was a Pan American World Airways pilot, while her mother María Elizabeth née Parker Infante worked as a flight attendant. Christy is of European-American ancestry from her father’s side and Central American from her mother’s, who hails from El Salvador.
Born second among her parents’ three children, Christy has two sisters named Erin and Kelly. Because of her father’s job, she lived in various cities in her childhood.
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Christy Turlington was first spotted by a local photographer named Dennie Cody in Miami in 1983. The photos he took somehow landed in a modeling agency and very soon, she became a part-time model.
Possibly in 1985, her family moved to Danville, California, where she was enrolled at ‘Monte Vista High School’. Concurrently, she continued modeling during her summer holidays before being signed by the ‘Ford Modelling Agency’ in the same year.
Christy appeared in the outdoor scenes of the pop-rock band Duran Duran’s music video ‘Notorious’ in 1986. Not long after that, she established herself as a successful model, appearing on the cover of the January 1987 edition of ‘Vogue Germany’.
She dropped out of high school in 1987 and moved to New York City to become a full-time model. Within two years, she signed a seven-figure contract as the new face of Calvin Klein, remaining with the brand until 2007.
In January 1990, Christy featured on the cover of ‘British Vogue’ along with supermodels Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and Tatjana Patitz. Their pairing caught the eye of the pop singer George Michael, who hired all of them to appear in his music video ‘Freedom! 90’.
In 1991, the five models were hired to walk the runway at Gianni Versace’s 1991 couture show. Very soon, all five of them began to be known as supermodels, gaining global recognition individually.
Christy signed a contract with Maybelline in 1992 as their new face. In the following year, she was christened “Face of the 20th Century” by the ‘New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’. They also created a line of mannequins in her likeness.
Sometime in the 1990s, she graduated from school and enrolled in the ‘Gallatin School of Individualized Study’ of the ‘New York University’ to study comparative religion and eastern philosophy. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1999. Later, she acquired a master’s degree in public health from the ‘Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health’.
Christy ventured into business in 1995, co-founding and promoting a restaurant chain called ‘Fashion Café’ with Campbell, Elle Macpherson and Schiffer. In the same year, she also appeared in the fashion documentaries ‘Unzipped’ and ‘Catwalk’. She was also part of a documentary called ‘Pret-a-Porter’, released in 1994.
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The year 1999 saw her found her own company ‘Turly Inc.’ She eventually branched out into skin care, producing an ayurvedic skincare line called ‘Sundari’. In the 2000s she partnered with ‘Puma’ to launch two clothing lines for active women. Concurrently, she continued modeling, participating in many major campaigns all through the 2000s and the 2010s.
Currently, Christy serves as a spokesperson for the cosmetics brand Maybelline, and she is also a brand ambassador for Imedeen beauty supplements. She is still an active model who continues to appear in different fashion magazines and fashion shows. She was an initial product tester for the Apple Watch, launched in 2015.
Christy Turlington had been smoking ever since she was a teenager. She quit it in 1995, but became an anti-smoking campaigner only in 1997 when her father died of lung cancer. Since then, she has appeared in a number of health awareness TV adverts.
In 2000, she underwent a lung scan to raise awareness about regular health checkups and was diagnosed with early stage emphysema at the age of 31.
Christy faced complications during childbirth in 2003 and learned that over 50,000 women die from such conditions each year, but 90% of these deaths are preventable. This information inspired her to earn a master’s degree in public health. In 2005, she started working with CARE, visiting different countries for the organization.
In 2010, she founded ‘Every Mother Counts’, which is dedicated to reducing maternal mortality and improving maternal health. In the same year, she made her directorial debut with ‘No Woman, No Cry’, a documentary on maternal health.
A yoga practitioner since in 1987, Christy published her book ‘Living Yoga: Creating A Life Practice’ in 2002. Besides that, she has also contributed numerous articles to magazines like ‘Marie Claire’, ‘Yoga Journal’ and ‘Teen Vogue’.
Family & Personal Life
Christy Turlington married actor-producer Edward Fitzgerald Burn in San Francisco on June 7, 2003. They first met each other at a party in 2000; and by the end of the year, they were engaged.
They broke up briefly in 2002 but reunited later. At the time of their wedding, Christy was 25 weeks pregnant with their daughter Grace. Their second child, a son named Finn, was born in 2006.