Linda Evangelista takes the catwalk for first time after botched fat-freezing procedure

Canadian model Linda Evangelista (centre) closed for Fendi during New York Fashion Week on Sept 9. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK – Supermodel Linda Evangelista, who has not graced the runway for 15 years, closed the show for Italian fashion house Fendi last Friday at New York Fashion Week.

This was also the 57-year-old’s first time back on the catwalk after revealing last year that she had been “permanently deformed” and “brutally disfigured” from a fat-freezing procedure between 2015 and 2016.

Known as CoolSculpting, the cosmetic procedure is a non-invasive alternative to liposuction. However, Evangelista said the treatments had increased and expanded her fat cells.

The result was a diagnosis of paradoxical adipose hyperplasia, a rare side effect that affects less than 1 per cent of CoolSculpting patients.

One of the most photographed faces in the 1990s, the Canadian model became a recluse for five years and underwent two painful and unsuccessful corrective surgeries.

She sued CoolSculpting’s parent company, Zeltiq Aesthetics Inc, for US$50 million (S$70 million) in damages last September and the lawsuit was settled in July.

Last Friday, she stepped out at the end of the Fendi show wearing a Tiffany-blue taffeta gown with diamond earrings, silver silk gloves and a Fendi Baguette bag.

In August, she appeared on the cover of British Vogue and revealed that she was still unable to look at herself in the mirror or bear anyone touching her. In the Vogue photos, she was almost completely covered.

Despite the Fendi campaign and British Vogue cover, Evangelista was reluctant to call this a comeback.

“I miss my work so much, but honestly, what can I do? It isn’t going to be easy,” she told Vogue. “You’re not going to see me in a swimsuit, that’s for sure. It’s going to be difficult to find jobs with things protruding from me.”

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