Discovered at a rock concert age 16, Shalom Harlow has gone on to become one of the world's highest-paid and most-photographed models. While fashion can be famously fickle about its stars, the Canadian beauty has proved to be a member of that elite club whose allure has never faded.
Shalom, whose name means 'Peace' in Hebrew, was born December 5, 1973, to parents David Harlow and Sandi Herbert. Brought up far away from the fashion world in a hippie community in Oshawa, Ontario, an hour outside of Toronto, she took jazz, ballet and tap-dancing classes as a child and dreamt of becoming an astronaut.
But her career path took a definitive turn when she was spotted by a modelling scout at a 1990 Cure concert in Toronto. The 5ft 10in willowy brunette began taking modelling lessons and three years later made her first magazine cover appearance for Canadian publication Fashion
also labelled her big news.
Her rise to fame coincided with that of Londoner Kate Moss, who like Shalom was said to have the era's 'new look'. Shalom, a committed vegetarian, appeared in print ads for DKNY and in 1994 made her big catwalk debut for Valentino haute couture in Paris. She was soon being hired by the biggest names in fashion - including Alberta Ferretti, Gianfranco Ferre and Chanel. In 1995 she was crowned VH1/Vogue
model of the year and appeared on the covers of Cosmopolitan
and British Vogue
By 1996 she had moved to New York from Paris and was hosting MTV's House Of Style
with fellow supermodel Amber Valletta. The next year she made her film debut, playing a supermodel in the comedy In & Out
, and followed this up with 1999's Cherry
Buying an apartment in the East Village in 2001 saw her laying down roots in the Big Apple and the same year she appeared on screens in another comedy, Head Over Heels
, as an obnoxious model.
Shalom"s never had a problem sending herself and the modelling industry up. "People think if you're a model, you must take yourself way too seriously, and that was a way to say, 'Uh, you got the wrong honey!','' she explained at the time.
Nevertheless the aspiring actress who briefly dated actor Peter Sarsgaard was keen not to be typecast and won more diverse roles in movies such as cyberspace thriller Happy Here And Now
in which she played a loner who mysteriously disappears. Since then her credits have included box-office hit How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days
with Kate Hudson and Woody Allen's Melinda And Melinda
But it"s still her enduring good looks, rather than her acting, that are the key to her fortune. In 2007 she was named one of the world's highest-paid models in the annual Forbes
rich list. Like her contemporary Kate Moss, Shalom has proved to have staying power in an industry notoriously biased towards teens and twentysomethings.
In 2005 and 2006, while well into her 30s, she was still fronting ads for Ralph Lauren Polo and Tiffany & Co. And in 2007 she was given the honour of closing the Dior Haute Couture show in January, appearing in a sensational origami wedding gown, as well as featured in Chloe"s autumn/winter campaign.