Saturday, March 5, 2011

Karen Elson: Muse Turned Musician

Photographer Edouard Plongeon/Jalouse 
Among things too numerous to count: grains of sand on the beach and runways that model Karen Elson has walked. Taking stock of her life thus far, the muse faces the music.

Photographer: Simon Burstall/Maire Claire
Her fiery locks and porcelain-pale skin made her a supermodel, but Karen Elson was fated for a career in music. As a kid in Manchester, England, she spent her pocket money on magazines that would teach her to play piano. 

Later in life, she'd teach herself guitar, join NYC-based cabaret troupe The Citizens Band, collaborate with indie superstar Cat Power, provide vocals for the legendary Robert Plant, and, oh yeah, marry Jack White of The White Stripes, with whom she has two children. 

Photographer: Alexi-Lubomirski/Harpers-Bazaar-UK
But after a decade of fronting world-famous fashion houses — among them, Versace, YSL, and Chanel (her recent coup: replacing Angelina Jolie as the face of St. John) — Elson, now 31, was reluctant to make a wholehearted leap into music. 

Her debut album, The Ghost Who Walks, titled after a childhood nickname, is a haunting triumph over self-doubt. Secretly written in her closet at home in Nashville, Tennessee ("I just needed some peace and quiet," she says — the refrain of mothers everywhere), the record almost didn't happen.[For the complete interview click here Karen Elson: Model Turned Musician, Katie L. Connor, Maire Claire

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