NorthPark Center’s shrewd move: How supermodel Linda Evangelista lured our Rob Brinkley to Dallas

by | Jun 12, 2018 | Fashion

 

Why FD’s editor ever moved to Dallas has a lot to do with Linda Evangelista — supermodel, phenomenon, mall pitchman

by ROB BRINKLEY
 

That face! That hair! That stare. If I had any doubts about moving to Dallas, Linda Evangelista blew them away with that billboard. It was 1992, and I was here visiting one of my best pals from back home in northern Kentucky. In showing me her Dallas, she wanted to take me to NorthPark Center. As we sailed down Central Expressway, something sublime yet shocking appeared on the horizon: the unmistakable — marvelous, magnificent — visage of Linda Evangelista, arguably the most famous face of the time. She was on a towering billboard, cropped from the neck up, all copper-red hair, blue eyes and smolder. “NorthPark,” trumpeted the text. “Dallas’ finest shopping.” Evangelista was so larger-than-life that the top of her head rose beyond the top edge of the sign. A jumbo billboard couldn’t contain the greatness that is Linda E. — and I couldn’t breathe.

1992 NorthPark billboard advertisement for the October 2015 FD NorthPark Special Issue. Photograph supplied by NorthPark archives.

NorthPark Center’s Nancy Nasher worked with Ed Hershey of Hershey Communications in New York on the Linda Evangelista campaign. Evangelista was already famous, having been on 31 American and international Vogue covers before 1992. Just before the NorthPark shoot — the entire campaign was shot by top fashion photographer Patrick Demarchelier — Evangelista dyed her hair bright coppery red without telling anyone. Nasher went for it.

I was, you see, and may still be, the No. 1 fan on the planet of the Canadian supermodel. I’d been captivated by her editorial spreads and her ad campaigns for years. If Evangelista was on a magazine cover, I bought two copies, just in case something happened to one. If Evangelista endorsed a product, I begged all my female friends to buy, buy, buy. I clipped out every mention of her, every photo, every quote. I had it bad for Evangelista and still do. It’s more than just her once-in-a-lifetime looks: It’s her quest for the best. “I devote everything to making sure we get that final, perfect shot,” she says in the new Harper’s Bazaar Models book. “I just want a good, new, exciting image at the end of the day.”

For the campaign’s key image, Evangelista wore these custom NorthPark-logo earrings, made by Tiffany & Co.

That’s my girl.

So, now, imagine that your biggest crush is suddenly staring at you, enticing you to come to NorthPark Center. You go to NorthPark Center. And imagine that once inside, the news gets even better. There was Evangelista, vamping and vixen-ing all over the place. Big signs. Mall directories. Everywhere. It was a dream sequence for a Linda lover — only this was no dream. My friend had to hold me up. Once composure returned, only two clear thoughts came: 1) I never thought I could actually love a mall. 2) This Dallas must be one OK place. I grabbed about, oh, 27 of NorthPark’s directory pamphlets — Linda-laden — for the eventual trip home. I couldn’t wait to tell fashion-crazed friends about the incredulous, expensive things they do in Dallas. (Famously, Linda wasn’t cheap.) By the end of 1993, I was filling out a change-of-address form at the Independence, Kentucky, post office. Almost 22 years later, I have an obsession and an association: I see or think about NorthPark and I see and think about Linda Evangelista. I’m worse than Pavlov’s dogs. At least they could breathe.

EARRINGS AND DIRECTORY: CHRIS PLAVIDAL/SISTERBROTHER MGMT. BILLBOARD: COURTESY NORTHPARK CENTER.

Exclusive to FD, more shots of Linda Evangelista for the NorthPark Center campaign, photographed by the one and only Patrick Demarchelier