Renée Toft Simonsen - Biography - part123  

photographer: Jacques Silberstein

The Dane with the cat´s eyes

Renée is born at the 12. May 1965 as second of three sisters (Heidi and Iben) in Arhus (Denmark). Her mum Ingrid is a nurse and family-therapist. Her father Jens is conducting a ecological farm in the north of Denmark and is also working as a therapist for addicted to alcohol and drugs. Once the dream of Renée was to work as a doctor or a journalist. Renée likes to read good books, painting pieces of furniture, gardening and fishing. »»»


In the age of 15 Renée accompanied a friend who wants to apply for the Ekstra Bladet magazine model competition "Face of the Eighties". A fashion-editor pleases the photographer Leif Nygaard to take also a photo of Renée for the competition.
In March Renée is 2nd place winner of the danish Ekstra-Bladet magazines "Face of the Eighties" contest. Eileen Ford is deeply impressed of Renée, but Renée is still too young to go with her to New York. Renée goes back to Arhus and works in a vegetable store after school.
She is doing her first cover for the danish magazine FOTOKINO. »»»


In May, 17 years old, she wins the danish Ekstra Bladet magazine model competition and does not hesitate to take part in the "Face of the Eighties" contest at New York. Her mum does not want to sign Renées model-contract. She is a bit anxious and dissapointed Renée will stop school, but finally she signs the contract and gives Renée permission to go to Eileen Ford to New York. But she feels like she has sold Renée as a slave.
14. August 1982 - The day that changes the life of Renée completely. At a big television-show she wins over 21 finalists from all around the world the "Supermodel of the World" title. In a hurry she changes the designer-dress and high-heels into sneakers and sweat-clothings and celebrates her victory at Jim McCullen restaurant with a cola and a burger. She signs a contract with Ford Models of a guaranteed minimum wage of 100.000 dollars in a year.
She has her first shooting for the U.S. VOGUE with co-model Talisa Soto. The 20-pages layout "A REAL CHANGE OF PACE", photographed by Andrea Blanch, appeares in the December issue. - "When I first came to New York, Eileen Ford kept watch over my phone calls and made me eat spinach!" This was a shock to Renée, who had been living with her fiancé in Denmark since she was sixteen. »»»


Renée experiences a express-career. She becomes a international model and features the covers of italian, U.K. and U.S. VOGUE and the french ELLE magazine. But in February she got the "fashion-knight-stroke" by doing the cover of the french Vogue, photographed by Albert Watson.
In April Renée has earned already 50.000 - 60.000 dollars and has seen the most beautiful places in the world like Hawaii, Tahiti, Mustique, Bahamas, Florida. She invites her grandparents to Paris at the 85. birthday of her grandfather and in the same summer she is doing a trip through Europe with her elder sister Heidi - with just a rucksack and 5.000 danish crowns.
In December Renée replaces Jerry Hall and becomes smart eye-catcher on the album cover of the band Roxy Music, photographed by Eric Boman. »»»


Beside her many model jobs she finds the time to nomitate the danish Billed Bladet "Face of the 80s" winner Claudia Craft. Renée can give her already some good advices. »»»


Renée surprises in June with a flight from New York to London to the premiere of the James Bond movie "A view to a kill". It is not because of Roger Moore! The reason is John Taylor, the bass player of Duran Duran, the band who did the title song of the movie. Her amorously expressions says everything. They had just met 3 months ago at a party in New York.
In November Renée invest a lot of money in a own model-agency, "rts models" in Arhus, where her mum and her aunt got a job. She is smoking 30 cigarettes at one day.
Renée is making first experiences as an actress in the italian movie "Sotto il vestito niente" ("Nothing underneath") directed by Carlo Vanzinas. Renée plays a lesbian murder. - "If I´m bad, only the Italians will know!" »»»


In May Renée launches as a movie-star at the Cannes movie-festival "Sotto il vestito niente" ("Nothing underneath"). The movie is no success and it becomes only a rental-movie.
She is doing her 2. movie directed by Carlo Vanzina "Via Montenapoleone", a comedy also starring (ex-)models Carol Alt and Marisa Berenson. She weaned her boyfriend John Taylor off hard drugs and tells about the fight against cocaine. »»»


With model colleagues Monika Schnarre and Christy Turlington Renée is invited in March to the first fashion-show in Moscow to promote a russian issue of the german fashion-pattern magazine "burda". Surprised about the big cold in Moscow Renée buys a fur-cap before doing sightseeing at the Red Square and St. Basil´s Orthodox Church. »»»
Movie "Via Montenapoleone" is released and with Carol Alt she is co-presenter to Mike Bongiorno at the italian "Telegatto" show.
In April Renée is flying from Paris to New York to be present at her first Duran Duran concert at Bercy palace and to celebrate her 3. anniversary with John Taylor. Now there are also autograph hunters behind her - she became an idol to the young girls. - "Sometimes in the camera is another person created with makeup."
5 years after her victory at the danish Ekstra Bladet magazine and Eileen Ford model competition she nominates at the Ekstra Bladet model competition the new supermodel of the world winner Anette Aaskov from Abenra (denmark).  »»»


Renée went with her sister Heidi for four months in October to a Kibbutz in Israel to pick oranges. Renée has enough of the luxury and superficial life she leads. She is at a point where she does need to find to herself. A serious illness caused by not getting the job to do a Sports Illustrated cover let do her the decision. She was ill for three months with a liver infection and this made her to take stock of her life. She realizes she has pushed herself too hard. She is offered to play in the next James Bond movie, but she refuses.  »»»


Several magazines in different countries publish Renées and Heidis report about their life in the kibbutz. Renée stops her model-career to do her high school diploma and starts to study journalism. In Summer she fails the entrance examination to the College of Journalism. Also she stops modeling to fulfill her biggest wish: having a family. - "I felt I was losing myself. I left to get back to some real substance and value." - Renée and John finish her romantic relationship, because they both were going in different directions. »»»
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