by phoebe reilly
photogrAphy by tony durAn
styling by MArtinA nilsson | November 10, 2014 | People
For Angela Lindvall, life is less about good looks than good works.
It’s not even 11 am and Angela Lindvall has already made the most of her Tuesday. She woke up at 6 for her yoga and meditation, made breakfast and lunch for her two sons, dropped them off at school, and hit the infrared sauna. This is what routine is like for the 35-year-old supermodel-actress-activist (Lindvall’s hyphens go on and on). She’s an earth mother who spends her days outdoors, composting and tending to vegetables, rarely discouraged by late nights or occasional hangovers. “I have a hard time getting the Kansas City cowboy out of me, and I like to kick back with my friends and drink beer or wine,” she admits. “But even the smallest amount and I don’t feel as great the next day, so I try to think about how worth it it is to have fun one night.”
Lindvall wasn’t always this responsible. The Missouri native could also tell you a story about hopping in a U-Haul truck with two friends when she was 20 (because they weren’t of age to rent a proper car) and driving from Texas to Vegas with a bottle of whiskey “to keep warm,” carving Texas stars in their arms to remember the journey. “I swear, ‘Viva Las Vegas’ came on the radio as soon as we hit the Strip,” she says. Once there, Lindvall remembered that her older sister, Michelle—the one who took her to the Kansas City fashion show where she was discovered at age 14—was in town with her fiancé. “We convinced my sister and her partner to get married,” she says, widening her turquoise-blue eyes. “We threw all of her coworkers into the back of the U-Haul and tied streamers and wrote on them in lipstick, and I think we had Hostess cupcakes and Hawaiian Punch. And they eloped.” She adds, “My dad wasn’t very happy.”
Now, cruising down Topanga Canyon in her Ford hybrid, Lindvall is giddy about more mature things, like the new house she’s about to close on. This would not normally be remarkable, except that her current home has achieved an almost-mythic status—think George Clooney’s Lake Como villa, only more inviting to outsiders. The seven-acre property includes a pool, a sustainable farm, and a yoga tent made from an upcycled Army parachute, where twice a week anyone can come practice with Lindvall and her teacher—which is why it’s so surprising that she’s putting the “eco-sanctuary,” as it’s often called, on the market.
Perhaps sensing my dismay, she assures me that she’s only moving next door, where she plans to recreate her setup, chickens and all, on a modest five acres. Her goal of “bringing the 10,000 goddesses together” remains intact, but we’ll come back to that in a minute. Suffice it to say, for Lindvall there’s much more to being a goddess than a pretty face—although with her sprinkling of freckles, wheat-blonde hair, and glowy good looks, it’s not hard to see why she turned heads at that first fashion show.
Soon, Lindvall went from hanging around with the local skate punks and listening to Nirvana in her Doc Martens to being draped in Dior and Hermès for runway shows around the world. By 17, she was showing up on the covers of W and Harper’s Bazaar and in photos taken by Herb Ritts and Irving Penn. Once upon a time, she didn’t know who Karl Lagerfeld was, then suddenly she could tell you what the Chanel godhead was really like (“a walking history book, and so friendly”)
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Although Lindvall describes her life as a model as vaguely “exciting,” she struggles to recall her fondest memory from those days, finally just ticking off a list of exalted locations that she was fortunate enough to visit for the first time: Paris, Rome, Bali. “I really felt like I was living two different lives,” she says, “being this Kansas City girl and then a high-fashion model. Everything for me is always strange contradictions.”
Case in point: Lindvall reluctantly traded the vast natural expanse of Missouri for the concrete fashion mecca of New York, but she opted to live on a houseboat on the Hudson River for two years with her soon-to-be husband, William Edwards. Then, when she was 23 and still very much in demand everywhere from Victoria’s Secret to Vogue, she took a break to have her son Dakota, who was born at her home in Missouri during a house fire. “My mom had said, ‘You know, you really don’t need all this stuff,’ meaning the baby room,” recalls Lindvall. “‘All you need is your breasts, diapers, and a blanket.’ And I was like, ‘I know, but I want to make it all pretty.’ Sure enough, everything went up in flames, and that was all I was left with.”
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Later, Lindvall decamped to LA and flirted with acting. She had already starred in director Roman Coppola’s 2001 film debut, the sci-fi spoof CQ, and in 2005 she landed a part in the well-received crime caper Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. But having already spent a decade hopscotching the globe, Lindvall says, “starting all over again as an actress was a little daunting. I didn’t really have the ambition.” Nor did she have the bandwidth to keep up with the entertainment business. When pushed to name the last TV show she watched with any regularity, there’s a long pause before she tentatively offers up Full House. “I’m embarrassed when I go to these Hollywood events and I don’t know who anyone is,” she says. “I mean, I saw a few episodes of Friends….”
Increasingly, she found herself troubled by online reports on the state of the environment: teeming landfills, factory farming, dire climate predictions. “Everybody knows about the newest handbag or the latest celebrity scandal, but nobody seems to know what’s going on in the world.”
With that in mind, Lindvall spent the early aughts getting her Collage Foundation off the ground. The nonprofit was dedicated to bringing artists and activists together to increase environmental awareness, particularly by creating small farms to help sustain communities. It was hard work, fundraising while also raising a family (Lindvall now had a second son, Sebastian), but she was finally on a happier path. Then, in 2006, she and Edwards split. A few months later, her younger sister, Audrey, was struck and killed by a truck while riding her bicycle near their hometown. “My life caved in on me,” Lindvall says. “I realized I was trying to save the planet; meanwhile, my world was falling apart. And that’s when I really went on an inward journey of self-healing.”
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The better care we take of ourselves, her thinking goes, the better care we will take of our communities, towns, and cities. Of course, Lindvall is in a comfortable position in this regard, but she wants to be able to share her knowledge—and her eco-sanctuary—with others, particularly women. “I’m going to take a yearlong course to get my certification as a nutritional practitioner,” she says, “because I’m looking to build a community space online that curates essays on health, beauty, style, and home, and I’d like to have credentials and more experience.”
The site, which Lindvall plans to call Mind, Body, Style if she can secure the trademark, will be a lifestyle resource in the vein of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, although she’s wary of making any comparisons. “You see celebrity initiatives that are all about them and they become the brand,” she says. “I don’t want to do that.” Her resistance to branding explains why Lindvall hasn’t been as visible during this professional second act as some of her peers, like Cindy Crawford or Heidi Klum. She was offered a chance to be part of the Project Runway empire when she hosted the All Stars offshoot for Lifetime back in 2010, but the gig lasted only one season. “I had fun doing Project Runway All Stars, but it really didn’t feel like it was on-message to me,” she explains. “It felt out of character. I’m so not the girl that’s going to judge what somebody’s wearing. And it was a big lesson for me. Like, you know what? You don’t have to take every opportunity. It’s about doing what you love.”
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For Lindvall, that means focusing on “a new type of feminism,” which is where the 10,000 goddesses come in. “I want to bring the powerhouse women together,” she says. “We are the feminists, we are the nurturers, we’re going to make life choices for the family. Men are like, ‘I can do this.’ Women are like, ‘How can we heal this?’ I’ll start with 10 and tell them to bring 10, and then we’ll have 100. So much good will come of that.” Does this mean we can crash at her house? “I still want to do retreats for women, yes,” she says. In all seriousness, her list of invitees includes teacher, author, and recent Congressional candidate Marianne Williamson as well as Deepak Chopra.
It’s probably safe to say that Lindvall won’t be hosting a goddess weekend in Las Vegas anytime soon, although she is a huge fan of Cirque du Soleil. “I love splurging,” she says. “You get a good deal at a beautiful hotel in Vegas, you stay up super late, let loose, and that’s why you only stay a few nights.” But for the moment, her greatest indulgence is wellness. (I asked, and no, despite California’s lax marijuana laws, pot is not grown at the eco-sanctuary.) “I want to create a richness that’s not about things but about feeling abundance,” Lindvall says. “If you do what you love, you will feel really good, and that’s what it’s all about.”
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