Lily Luahana Cole (born c. 27 December 1987)[note 1] is an English model and actress.
Her modelling career was launched by a chance encounter with Benjamin Hart in Soho when she was 14 years old. She was booked for her first British Vogue cover at age 16, and has worked with many well-known brands, including Vogue worldwide, Alexander McQueen, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Jean Paul Gaultier, Marc Jacobs, Prada, De Beers and Moschino. Other clients include Numero, Christian Lacroix, Hermès, Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier and Marc Jacobs. Advertising campaigns include Longchamp, Anna Sui and Cacharel. She has a cosmetics contract with beauty brand Rimmel London and can be seen in TVC and print advertising as part of her work with them, attracting controversy in 2008 by appearing naked in a pictorial for Playboy's French edition. She is listed by Vogue Paris as one of the top 30 models of the 2000s.
After several minor acting roles, starting with St Trinian's in 2007, Cole's first leading role was as Valentina in the 2009 film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Her other film work includes Passages, a short directed by Shekhar Kapur and There Be Dragons, directed by Roland Joffé. In June 2011, she was awarded a Double First in History of Art at Cambridge University.
In January of 2012, she met with Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales to get his guidance on starting her own socially networked gift economy website. Her site impossible.com says that it "will be launching very soon" (as of February 2013).
Early life and education
Cole was born in Torquay, Devon, and brought up in London, along with one of her two sisters. Her mother, Patience Owen, is an artist and writer, and her father, Chris Cole, was a boat builder and fisherman. Cole attended Hallfield Primary School and the St Marylebone Church School for Girls, before completing her sixth form studies at Latymer Upper School, an independent school in Hammersmith, London. She achieved A grades in her A-level examinations in English, Politics, Drama, History and Philosophy and Ethics at Latymer Upper School.
Cole gained a place to read Social and Political Sciences at King's College, Cambridge, but twice deferred entry before switching to study History of Art, which she commenced during Michaelmas, 2008. She gained a First in her examinations at the end of her first year, and another in her second year examinations, one of seven members of her year to earn the grade. Cole had a long standing interest in art and stated that she felt it would be a wise course of study for the long term. She has discussed her difficulty in settling down at Cambridge.
Magazines and fashion shows
Cole's modelling career was sparked from a chance encounter while walking through Soho when she was approached by Benjamin Hart, who asked her to consider modelling. She initially declined, later saying, "I was cynical enough to think it wouldn't come to much", though she later changed her mind and signed with Storm Models.
Her big break came in 2003 when she caught the eye of photographer Steven Meisel. It was during a photoshoot for Italian Vogue that she found the spotlight and became one of the 'new faces' of the year. Since then, Cole has worked with many other prominent photographers, including Craig McDean, Nick Knight, Juergen Teller, Arthur Elgort and Irving Penn. Cole has said that she did not feel like natural model material but that the work has given her great confidence over the years. Cole's distinctive red hair has attracted significant media attention.
At the 2004 British Fashion Awards, Cole was named "Model of the Year". She has since made appearances on the covers of many fashion magazines including, amongst others, the American, Italian, British, Japanese and Korean editions of Vogue, Citizen K, V and Vogue as well as featuring on Vogue's "best dressed" list in December 2005. She has had cover appearances on Numéro and Interview.
She has modelled on the international runway circuit and at many fashion shows on behalf of Chanel, Shiatzy Chen, DKNY, Jean Paul Gaultier, Versace, Alexander McQueen, Jasper Conran, John Galliano and Louis Vuitton. She was nominated, for the second time, for the "Model of the Year" award at the 2007 British Fashion Awards and, in December 2009, was listed by Vogue Paris as one of the top 30 models of the 2000s. Cole made a cover appearance on the January 2010 issue of the Canadian Elle and opened Hermès's winter 2010/2011 collection at Paris Fashion Week in March. Towards the end of 2010, she featured in a documentary chronicling the career of Rolf Harris in which he painted her dressing up as Titania from A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Cole made her first nude appearance in 2007, when she was photographed naked by Juergen Teller in a shoot showing full frontal nudity for Paradis, an upmarket French men's magazine. She went on to appear nude in, and on the front cover of, the French edition of Playboy magazine in October 2008. However, there is no frontal nudity or topless pictures in this pictorial. The shoot was reportedly inspired by the cover of French musician Serge Gainsbourg's 1971 album, Histoire de Melody Nelson and attracted controversy, with calls for Cole to be dropped from her contract with British high street chain Marks and Spencer. However, M&S stated that it "stood by Lily", arguing she "is a popular, high profile, model who is very much in demand, and this is one of the key reasons why we have chosen to work with her". A spokesperson for M&S insisted, "It's entirely her own choice as to what other work she accepts and we would not wish to interfere with her career." Cole herself defended the photographs as art, saying "Nudity has always existed in art ... it doesn't necessarily 'debase' any more than it celebrates ... the human body". Robin Simon, editor of the British Art Journal compared the work to Manet's Olympia despite the criticism.
Cole was featured topless in the 2010 edition of the Pirelli Calendar alongside Daisy Lowe and Dutch model Marloes Horst. In 2010, Cole appears in an implied nude image on the cover of photographer Rankin's thematic book of nudes Painting Pretty Pictures.
Cole has appeared in advertising campaigns for Chanel, Christian Lacroix, Hermès, Longchamp, Cacharel, Topshop and Anna Sui cosmetics, as well as being the face for Moschino's perfume "I Love Love". In September 2007, Cole was announced as the follow-up model for Accessorize, taking the place of Claudia Schiffer, also designing a line of handbags for the collection.
Cole has been modelling for cosmetics company Rimmel London since October 2009, as well as featuring in advertisements for jewellers Tiffany & Co. Cole, along with Twiggy and other models became a "face" of Marks and Spencer clothes advertising campaign, making the youngest model to ever do a campaign for the line, though her contract was not renewed by M&S in late 2009 as the company struggled as a result of the financial crisis. Although she expressed a desire to focus more on her acting career, Cole launched a campaign in June 2010 at Gatwick Airport for modelling agency, Storm Model Management. The campaign aims to find new modelling talent from people passing through the airport, with the agency hoping to re-create the discovery of Kate Moss, who was spotted at JFK Airport, New York City in 1988 by the agency's founder.
In March 2012, the Body Shop launched its Beauty With Heart campaign, naming Cole as its first ambassador. She declared: "This runs much deeper than just being the face of a campaign, it's really important, so it's a really exciting project to be part of!"
Marilyn Manson announced in February 2006 that he intended to cast Cole in his upcoming film Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll as Alice. Shorts from the movie have been featured on his website and a feature length film is also planned, though it is unknown if or when it will be released.
Cole made her acting debut as Polly the geek in the 2007 comedy St. Trinian's, a rework of the black and white films of the 1950s and '60s, alongside Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Russell Brand, Jodie Whittaker and Stephen Fry.
Her first leading role came in Terry Gilliam's 2009 fantasy film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, playing Valentina, the teenage daughter of Christopher Plummer's title character, Dr Parnassus, whom Parnassus has promised to the Devil (Tom Waits) upon her 16th birthday. Acting alongside Heath Ledger (who died before filming had finished), Cole, in an interview for the Daily Telegraph admitted that, at times, she felt out of her depth in the role- saying “I’d only done a couple of films and here I was surrounded by amazing actors like Christopher Plummer and Heath Ledger, and it was intimidating at times,” also describing the role as "the biggest role I’ve ever done".
Gilliam said of Cole: “She has an amazing look and grasps what is required so very quickly. If she wants a career as an actress, she has a brilliant future”. According to Mark Olsen of The Los Angeles Times, writing as Parnassus was released in the United States, "Cole brings a surprising well of emotional tenderness to her part as Valentina", while Ryan Michael Painter wrote of the film on 'inthisweek.com' that "all of the performances are delightful, particularly Cole's as Valentina, proving that the haute couture model has more to offer this world than a pretty face".
Cole appeared at the 34th Toronto International Film Festival in December 2009 to promote Parnassus. She was featured as herself in one episode of the online series T Takes, a series of short, improvised films published by The New York Times. Cole appeared as "Lettuce Leaf", a celebrity supermodel in the 2009 film, Rage, directed by Sally Potter. Cole also played "Aline" in the 2011 film There Be Dragons.
In January 2010, Cole gave an interview to the Canadian edition of Elle in which she expressed her desire to focus more on acting than on her modelling career, saying she "wouldn't want to treat acting as a convenient thing to do now and again", going on to mention her roles in the upcoming films There Be Dragons and Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll and saying of her modelling "I've been doing modelling for years and I feel like I've taken out of it what I need to and I'm ready for new things" and that "film asks for a much bigger emotional and intellectual commitment." Released in 2012, Cole will have a part in Mary Harron's The Moth Diaries.
Cole made a minor appearance in the music video for the Girls Aloud/Sugababes cover of "Walk This Way" in aid of the British telethon charity Comic Relief, in which she struts up and down a catwalk in "hilarious ways", interspersed by the bands and several well-known British television personalities. Cole had another minor role in Primal Scream's 2008 video "Can’t Go Back", in which she and other models featured in a horror-style video based on the films of Dario Argento. The models, including Cole, are graphically "murdered" and "meet their ends in rather striking ways" with the aim of looking "hot even when dead".
It was reported in October 2009 that Cole would make her stage debut at the Old Vic Theatre in London's West End at the theatre's annual "24 Hour Plays" held in November, but "scheduling commitments" forced her to pull out. Cole ultimately made her stage début at the ADC Theatre in Cambridge, as Nina in a student production of The Seagull.
She appeared in "The Curse of the Black Spot", the third episode of the sixth series of science fiction series Doctor Who, in May 2011. She played a Sea Siren.
Cole supports a variety of humanitarian and environmental causes. She is an ambassador for children's charity Global Angels. She also supports the charity WaterAid, speaking for the organisation's "End Water Poverty" campaign, and the Environmental Justice Foundation Cole has modelled a T-shirt with the slogan "Save the Future" to fight child labour in the fashion industry for the Environmental Justice Foundation. Most recently Cole put a plaster cast bust of her torso on the auction site eBay to raise money for British telethon charity Comic Relief.
In December 2009, Cole attended a party, hosted by Elton John for which guests were asked to design their ideal bar with the designs then sold at auction in aid of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
In October 2010, she helped launch the World Land Trust’s Emerald for Elephant Exhibition, which was designed to create awareness and raise important funds for the protection of the critically endangered Asian elephant.
In August 2012, she was part of the judging panel at the Festival of Code, held at the culmination of Young Rewired State 2012.
Cole is an ally for Western Shoshone, an environmental group which specializes in work to halt gold and diamond mining, which is alleged to displace indigenous peoples worldwide and alleged to create excessive amounts of mining waste and toxins. As the face of De Beers, Cole went to the Kalahari to see for herself the work their charity was doing to support the plight of the Bushmen. While there she discovered their hand-crafted ostrich eggshell jewellery and introduced the range to various prestigious retailers including Dover Street Market, London, where it is still being sold.
Cole has been seen wearing the £5 eco-friendly Anya Hindmarch handbag bearing the slogan "I'm Not A Plastic Bag" and wrote the foreword for Tamsin Blanchard's 2007 book Green Is The New Black, a guide to being fashionable while remaining eco-friendly. She also had involvement in creating an environmentally friendly knitwear company, the North Circular, whose products are made from the wool of rescued sheep, from which 5% of all profits, and all of Cole's, are donated to the Environmental Justice Foundation. She launched a womenswear range for the company in February 2010. As part of her modelling work for Marks and Spencer, Cole's face (along with that of Twiggy) appears on a range of alternative shopping bags launched by the retailer in efforts to reduce the number of plastic carrier bags it gives out.
In August 2008, Cole began a relationship with American actor Enrique Murciano but the pair reportedly broke up in February 2011 after two-and-a-half years of dating.
In April 2007, Cole first featured in the Sunday Times Rich List, which estimated her net worth at £6 million, ranking her as the 77th-richest young person in the United Kingdom. As of 2009, she is thought to have earned in excess of £11 million.
^[note 1] Many sources such as New York Magazine and Fashion Model Directory cite Cole's date of birth as 19 May 1988. However, this is impossible as her birth was registered with the General Registry Office of England and Wales (GRO) three months earlier, in February 1988. Tweets by Cole imply she may have been born on 27 December 1987.
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- ^ Tweet by Lily Cole. 27 December 2011, 9:29 am.
- ^ Tweet by Lily Cole. 27 December 2011, 7:19 pm.