PLAGUED by shyness and nerves throughout her career, it’s a wonder how Claudia Schiffer became a household name at all.
But as she turns 50 today, it’s clear the model is more confident than ever.
Married to a hotshot film producer, building her own business empire and still dazzling with her beauty, Claudia is finally at ease with herself.
She said: “There’s a reason we have cakes and parties on our birthdays, and I feel the same way about getting older each year.
“I am so happy to be turning 50 and have never felt more confident or happy. I don’t try to look or feel younger. I embrace now.”
The blonde bombshell was first scouted aged just 17 while partying in a Dusseldorf nightclub with a pal. Despite shooting to fame, the 5ft 11in teen was plagued with doubt over her modelling career.
She said: “I thought they were making a mistake and would find out I was the wrong girl and send me home once I arrived in Paris.”
But soon, Claudia was one of the most in-demand models on the ’90s catwalks, modelling for Chanel, Versace and Yves Saint Laurent and fronting an ad campaign for Guess Jeans.
In her career, she has appeared on more than 1,000 magazine covers. But Claudia admitted she struggled with being in the spotlight.
She said: “The nerves before a catwalk show could be intense sometimes. I enjoyed them when they were over and we were all celebrating, but before I did not enjoy it.
“And getting there, I literally had to convince myself to go to each one. It was a very fast learning curve. Suddenly I was thrown into this world. I just thought, ‘Close your eyes and jump in’.”
Known as the good girl of modelling, Claudia wasn’t tempted by the drink and drugs which swirled around the industry.
She said: “In the beginning I didn’t even notice. I came from such a clean home. I was so naive. People would tell me afterwards that everybody in the studio was stoned except me, and I had no idea.
“I don’t like to lose control over myself. I don’t like the feeling of not controlling what I’m saying or thinking.”
Although she was relatively conservative by model standards, Schiffer soon became a sex symbol with her sultry looks.
She said: “It was insane, like being a rock star. You couldn’t get to your car unless a path was carved for you.
“People would cut holes in the fashion tents and try to take pictures of us. We had security at every fashion show.”
At the height of her popularity she even employed a guard to keep an eye on her lingerie.
Claudia said: “When I was out on the runway I’d come back and my underwear would be gone — my bra, my knickers, gone!”
While she could have her pick of any men, aged just 23, she found love with magician David Copperfield — 13 years her senior — after appearing on stage as his assistant.
During their five-year engagement, David lived in New York and Claudia in Monaco. The pair eventually split in 1999. She soon met Lock, Stock and Snatch producer Matthew Vaughn, and in 2002 they married at St George’s Church in Shimpling, Suffolk.
She said: “I just thought there’s no perfect man out there. Then I met him. He had everything I wanted in a man. He completely swept me off my feet.”
Claudia decided to quit the catwalk and focus on starting a family. She soon welcomed Caspar, now 17, Clementine, 15, and Cosima, ten, into her brood.
Matthew, 49, Claudia and their children live in Coldham Hall, a 14-bedroom haunted tudor mansion in Suffolk.
Claudia said: “A medium told us that actually, all the ghosts in the house are lovely. No one needs to be scared.”
Rather than enjoy her estimated £45million net worth and settle into country life, Claudia has embarked on new challenges.
She has acted in movie comedies Richie Rich and Love, Actually, launched make-up and ceramics lines and partnered on a capsule collection with shoe brand Aquazzura.
She produced Elton John biopic Rocketman last year under the name Claudia Vaughn and forthcoming spy comedy The King’s Man, directed by her husband.
But she hasn’t strayed far from her modelling roots, which she credits with helping her come out of her shell.
Claudia said: “I’d probably still be a very shy person who had no idea I could overcome that by experiencing many things.
“I would probably be in a job where you can be in the background, in a bank or behind the scenes. Modelling was my therapy. I learned how to communicate.”
In 2019, Claudia returned to modelling by posing nude on the front of Vogue Italia. In January this year she was the cover girl for Russian Vogue, looking as youthful as in her heyday.
Claudia once claimed the key to her young looks was lager on her tresses. She said: “This isn’t scientifically proven but some people say drinking beer makes hair shiny and strong.
“You’re better off with a do-it-all serum — but a little beer can’t hurt.” On top of lathering with lager, Claudia also favours men’s cosmetics.
She said: “My favourite is Clinique for Men face scrub, because it has enough grittiness to actually make a difference and gives skin a refreshing tingle.”
But despite her seemingly eternal youth, the runway veteran is happy to let the next generation of supermodels dominate the catwalk.
She said: “I’ve had many wonderful compliments in my time. But then you get to the next stage and you move on.
“You don’t have to be called beautiful your entire life. It’s a nice memory, but then the next generation starts. For me, it’s a natural thing to do, to hand over, to not be envious or jealous.
“I can’t think of anything worse than if you said, ‘There’s a magic pill and it’s going to make you look 20 again’.”
Some of my favourites from the May ELLE cover shoot (earlier this year). Thanks team @ElleUK @sebkimstudio @farrahstorr 💛
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