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This Year’s Model

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She remains committed to her causes, too. “I think what I’m known for is how much I care for the environment,” she says. “I really have a deep sense of caring about the air that we breathe and the water that we drink. I want to be able to say that I was trying to protect that. And I also care deeply about children. My children, all children. And I care deeply about giving back.” She works on a number of East End charities: Save Sag Harbor being one. And she’s involved with Democratic politics on a national level, too—she was a delegate for Al Gore at the DNC in 2000; she campaigned aggressively for Kerry four years ago. Her courtroom drama has made it hard to devote herself fully to Obama, but she plans to get more involved. The only moment she drops her smile is when John Edwards comes up. “Devastating,” she says. “Devastating. I’ve met him, and I’ve met his lovely wife, and this is devastating news. But I don’t want to go there!” And the smile is back. A man in a tiny white dinghy is rowing past her house. “Isn’t that cool?” she exclaims. “Isn’t that great? God. It’s so beautiful.”

Her cell phone bleats a poppy ringtone and she answers with a full grin. “Hey, Jack-omo!” she shouts at her 13-year-old son. “Hey, dude!” When she loses the connection, she turns to texting. “He can’t,” she says, smiling, “find his skateboard.”

She won’t talk about love, except to say that she’s never getting married again. And as she walks me to my car—parked beside her hybrid SUV, which is covered in bumper stickers, including one for Obama in which the O has been replaced by a peace sign—she gestures at the lawn, talks about her plans for that organic farm. “Won’t that be great?” she asks. And it will. Of course it will. “I can’t wait,” she says. “I just need a new architect.”

Brinkley turned up to a West Chelsea photo studio three days earlier wearing those same skinny jeans, to shoot the cover of this magazine. It was one of the few straight-up modeling gigs she’d done in a while, but it was impossible to tell. She wore a number of outfits, including a starchy white Balenciaga shirt and a pair of four-inch YSL heels. Her hair was manipulated with extensions and a fan, but those tiny, sample-size hips were not. She says her body is thanks to vegetarianism and, lapsing into full spokesmodel mode, a product of the “Total Gym,” which is a contraption she’s been hawking on late-night infomercials with Chuck Norris—“He’s a total sweetheart,” she says, “he just votes for the wrong guy”—for the past fifteen years. She moved just like she did while flirting with Chevy Chase from her cherry-red Ferrari during National Lampoon’s Vacation: like the smiliest of vamps, specifically created for turning any red-blooded American man to mush. She found poses and held them, shifting only after the swoosh of the shutter. She smiled and re-angled and smiled some more. She knew just how to pop her hip out, her shoulder up, just how to position her legs, and she never, not for one frame, looked anything but totally thrilled to be there. She is what she always was, oddly unmarred by the human drama that has so recently swirled around her. “Modeling is kind of like skiing, or riding a bike,” she says. “When you get back in the right light, it all just comes back. You feel a little safer in that light.”


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