While roles as the face of upmarket fashion labels Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein and Versace had made Canadian model Gabriel Aubry a familiar face by 2006, his profile shifted up several notches after he became romantically linked to Hollywood star Halle Berry.
Born on August 30, 1976, in Montreal to a French-Canadian couple, Gabriel was one of nine siblings. From the age of three to 18 he lived with five separate foster families, not moving in with his dad Gerard until he was already a rising star in the modelling world.
He was discovered during his 20s while enjoying a night out at a nightclub during a ski trip to Quebec. Soon in demand for his androgynous look, the 6ft 2in hunk picked up modelling work locally before landing major contracts with designers Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Versace.
He was already a regular on the international runways for the likes of Versace, Cerruti and Ralph Lauren when, in 2000, he inked a deal for a four-year campaign with German fashion label Hugo Boss, appearing alongside Mini Anden and Amber Valleta.
Despite his high-profile career, softly spoken Gabriel prefers to avoid the spotlight. "I was always a super-shy person," he says. "I don't like to be followed by the cameras." He was forced to come to terms with life in the public eye, however, after meeting Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry on a Versace photo shoot in November 2005.
The pair were soon inseparable and in March 2008 they welcomed their first child together, a little girl, Nahla Ariela Aubry, a name they arrived at after careful deliberation. "For us, it was hard to name the most important person in our life until we met her," said the thrilled couple.
Two years later and their romance came to an end. Commenting on contradictory reports in the media – including one that he had ended the relationship due to the age gap, and another suggesting Halle had called time on their union due to Gabriel not pulling his weight – the model declared: "While I will not comment on all of the wild inaccuracies being speculated about in the media, I am sad to say that Halle and I have decided together to separate at this time."
The doting dad made it clear that their main concern continues to be the wellbeing of their daughter. "We have been blessed with the most amazing daughter in the world, and her happiness and wellbeing are the most important thing for both of us. Please respect our privacy during this very difficult time," he said.
In addition to his fashion career Gabriel, who speaks fluent French, has branched out into the restaurant business, opening Cuban-inspired Manhattan eaterie Cafe Fuego in 2006. "It's very similar to my house, so it's very warm," he says.