Lily Cole (born 19 May 1988) is an English model and actress whose career was launched by a chance encounter in London.
Cole has featured in several well known publications including cover appearances on V and four different language version of Vogue, as well as modelling for high street retailer Marks and Spencer and cosmetics chain Rimmel. She sparked a minor controversy in 2008 by appearing naked in a pictorial for Playboy magazine's French edition.
Having done a variety of minor acting roles including St Trinian's (2007) and Rage (2009), Cole's first leading role was alongside Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law in the 2009 film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Cole is due to appear in the upcoming film There Be Dragons in 2010 and Marilyn Manson's Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll, for which no release date has yet been set.
Cole is currently in her second year of reading History of Art at the University of Cambridge.
Early and personal life
Cole was born in Torquay, south west England, and raised in London, along with her sister, Elvie, a primary school teacher three years her senior. She was raised by her mother, Patience Owen; Chris Cole, her father, left the household and was not part of his daughters' lives while they grew up. Cole attended the St Marylebone church school for girls, and completed her sixth form studies at Latymer Upper School, an independent school in Hammersmith, London. A chance encounter began her modelling career at the age of fourteen. Cole was walking through the streets of Soho when scout-turned-actor Benjamin Hart approached her about modelling. She initially declined, later saying "I was cynical enough to think it wouldn't come to much", though she later changed her mind and signed to Storm Models, the mother agency of models such as Kate Moss.
In April 2007, Cole first featured in the Sunday Times Rich List with an estimated worth of £6 million, ranking her as the 77th richest young person in Britain. As of 2009, she is thought to have earned in excess of £11 million.
Cole is currently in a relationship with actor Enrique Murciano, star of American television series Without a Trace.
In an interview given in January 2010, Cole admitted "I definitely never thought of myself as model material. Me on a catwalk with all these superwomen?" adding that "if a designer says I inspire them, I'm still not sure how that happened". Cole went on to reveal that her modelling career gave her "a lot of self confidence, which I didn’t have in the past". In February 2010, Cole was voted the fourth "sexiest redhead of all time", after Florence Welch, Prince Harry of Wales, and Nicola Roberts in a poll conducted by the Daily Mirror.
Despite her successful modelling career, Cole retains a commitment to her education, achieving A grades in her A-level examinations in English, Politics, Drama, History, and Philosophy and Ethics at Latymer Upper School. Before that she attended the primary school, Hallfield School. (Bayswater,London) and The St Marylebone Secondary School.
Cole gained a place to read Social and Political Sciences at King's College, Cambridge, but twice deferred entry, and switched to History of Art, which she commenced in the Michaelmas term, 2008. She gained a First in her examinations at the end of her first year. When asked about the change, Cole explained "I like doing things I haven't learnt about yet. I've always been interested in art, and I love doing art..." and, speaking to Judy Rumbold of The Irish Independent, said "the decision came from the vague notion that it might be a wise thing to do, that when I was 50, 60, 70, I'd look back and be glad I did it". In an interview for The Daily Telegraph in December 2009, Cole admitted she struggled to settle in to her first year at Cambridge, conceding she was "a bit shell-shocked, but I think everyone finds that".
Cole's big break came in 2003 when she caught the eye of photographer Steven Meisel. It was on that photoshoot, her first 'only girl' story for Italian Vogue, that Cole was catapulted into the spotlight as one of the leading new faces of the year. Since then, Cole has worked with many other prominent photographers, including Craig McDean, Nick Knight, Juergen Teller, Arthur Elgort, and Irving Penn.
In November 2004, at the British Fashion Awards, Cole was named 'Model of the Year'. Since then, she has featured in many well known fashion magazines such, including seven appearances in multiple versions of Vogue (American, Italian, British, Japanese and Korean), Citizen K, and V. Her cover appearances have included Numéro and three appearances on the British edition of Vogue. In addition to which, Cole has appeared in advertising campaigns for designers such as Chanel, Christian Lacroix, Hermès, Longchamp, Cacharel, Topshop, and Anna Sui Cosmetics, as well as being the face for Moschino's perfume 'I Love Love'. Cole was featured on Vogue's "best dressed" list in December 2005.
She has modelled on the international runway circuit and has walked many top shows, including Chanel, DKNY, Jean Paul Gaultier, Versace, Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, and Louis Vuitton.
Cole was nominated, for the second time, for the British Fashion Awards for 'Model of the Year' in 2007 and, in December 2009, was listed by Vogue Paris as one of the top 30 models of the 2000s.
Cole appeared on the January 2010 edition of Interview in a small outfit with "bold make up against her pale skin".
Cole has done several nude photoshoots, for which she has encountered both praise and criticism.
Her first nude appearance was in 2007, when she was photographed fully naked by Juergen Teller in a shoot for Paradis, an upmarket French men's magazine.
In October 2008, Cole went on to appear nude in, and on the front cover of, the French edition of Playboy magazine. The shoot was inspired by the cover of French musician Serge Gainsbourg's 1971 album "Histoire de Melody Nelson" and attracted some controversy, with calls for Cole to be dropped from her Marks and Spencer contract. Marks and Spencer (for whom Cole modelled at the time), however, stated that it "stood by Lily", arguing she "is a popular, high profile, model who is very much in demand, and this is one of the key reasons why we have chosen to work with her". A spokesperson for the label insisted, "It's entirely her own choice as to what other work she accepts and we would not wish to interfere with her career." Cole herself defended the photographs as art, saying "Nudity has always existed in art, it doesn't necessarily "debase" any more than it celebrates the human body" despite claims, particularly from Christian groups, that they were "pornographic". However, in Cole's defence, Robin Simon, editor of the British Art Journal compared the work to Manet's Olympia.
In November 2009, it was announced that Cole would feature, topless, in the 2010 edition of the well known Pirelli Calendar alongside Daisy Lowe and Dutch model Marloes Horst.
In September 2007, Cole was announced as the follow-up model for Accessorize, taking the place of Claudia Schiffer, also designing a line of handbags for the collection.
Cole signed to model for cosmetics company Rimmel London in October 2009, alongside Kate Moss, Cheryl Cole, as well as Tiffany & Co. She is now one of the models in the Marks and Spencer clothes advertising campaign, becoming the youngest model to ever do a campaign for the line. As part of the deal Cole will be the exclusive face of the M&S Limited Collection.
In February 2006, it was announced that Marilyn Manson planned to star Cole in his upcoming movie Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll as Alice. Shorts from the movie have been featured on his website and a feature length film is also planned, though it is unknown if or when it will be released.
In 2007, Cole made her film debut as Polly the geek in St. Trinian's, a rework of the black and white films of the 1950s and '60s, in which she starred alongside Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Jodie Whittaker and Stephen Fry.
Cole played the lead female role of Valentina, the teenage daughter of Christopher Plummer's Dr Parnassus (the title character) whom Parnassus has promised to The Devil (Tom Waits) upon her 16th birthday, in the 2009 film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, directed by Terry Gilliam and scripted by Gilliam and Charles McKeown. Acting alongside Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell and the late Heath Ledger (who died before filming had finished), Cole, in an interview for The Daily Telegraph admitted that, at times, she felt out of her depth in the role- saying “I’d only done a couple of films and here I was surrounded by amazing actors like Christopher Plummer and Heath Ledger, and it was intimidating at times,” also describing the role as "the biggest role I’ve ever done". Terry Gilliam, director of The Imaginrium..., when asked, said of Cole: “She has an amazing look and grasps what is required so very quickly. If she wants a career as an actress, she has a brilliant future”. According to Mark Olsen of The Los Angeles Times, writing as The Imaginarium... was released in the United States, "Cole brings a surprising well of emotional tenderness to her part as Valentina", while Ryan Michael Painter wrote of the film on 'inthisweek.com' that "all of the performances are delightful, particularly Cole's as Valentina, proving that the haute culture model has more to offer this world than a pretty face".
At the premier for The Imaginarium..., Cole was pictured wearing thigh length brown pinstripe boots with matching blazer and hotpants next to director Terry Gilliam.
Cole also appeared at the 34th Toronto International Film Festival in December 2009 to promote The Imaginarium....
She also featured as herself in one episode of the online series T Takes, a series of short, improvised films published by the New York Times.
Cole also appeared as "Lettuce Leaf", a celebrity supermodel in the 2009 film, Rage directed by Sally Potter. Cole originally auditioned for the part of Minx, which later went to Jude Law, with whom Cole had worked on The Imaginarium....
Cole plays the minor part of "Aline" in the upcoming film There Be Dragons, scheduled for release in 2010.
In January 2010, Cole gave an interview in which she expressed here desire to focus more on acting than on her modelling career, saying she "wouldn’t want to treat acting as a convenient thing to do now and again", going on to mention her roles in the upcoming films There Be Dragons and Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll and saying of her modelling "I’ve been doing modelling for years and I feel like I’ve taken out of it what I need to and I’m ready for new things".
Later in 2010, Cole will have a part in Mary Harron's The Moth Diaries.
Cole made a minor appearance in the music video for the Girls Aloud/Sugababes cover of "Walk This Way" in aid of the British telethon charity Comic Relief in which she struts up and down a catwalk in "hilarious ways" interspersed by the bands and several well known British television perosnalities. Cole had another minor role in Primal Scream's 2008 video "Can’t Go Back" in which she and other models featured in the horror-style video based on the horror films of Dario Argento. The models, including Cole, are graphically 'murdered' and "meet their ends in rather striking ways" with the aim of looking "hot even when dead".
In October 2009, it was reported that Cole would be making her stage debut at the Old Vic Theatre in London's West End at the theatre's annual "24 Hour Plays" held in November, however, she was forced to pull out due to "scheduling commitments".
Cole is a supporter of a variety of humanitarian and environmental causes. She is an Ambassador for children's charity Global Angels She also supports the charity WaterAid, speaking for the organisation's "End Water Poverty" campaign, and the Environmental Justice Foundation Cole has modelled a T-shirt with the slogan "Save the Future" to fight child labour in the fashion industry for the Environmental Justice Foundation. Most recently Cole has put a plaster cast bust of her torso on the auction site eBay to raise money for British telethon charity Comic Relief.
In December 2009, Cole attended a party, hosted by Sir Elton John for which guests were asked to design their ideal bar with the designs then sold at auction in aid of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Cole is an ally for Western Shoshone, an environmental organization specialising in work to halt gold and diamond mining, which is alleged to displace indigenous peoples worldwide and alleged to create excessive amounts of mining waste and toxins. After some public exposure, with the pressure of organizations like Survival International, Cole declined to be in any further De Beers jewellery campaigns.
Cole has been seen wearing the £5 eco-friendly Anya Hindmarch handbag bearing the slogan "I'm Not A Plastic Bag" and wrote the foreword for Tamsin Blanchard's 2007 book Green Is The New Black, a guide to being fashionable while remaining eco-friendly. She also had involvement in creating an environmentally friendly knitwear company, The North Circular, whose products are made from the wool of rescued sheep, from which 5% of all profits, and all of Cole's, are donated to the Environmental Justice Foundation.
As part of her modelling work for Marks and Spencer, Cole's face (along with that of Twiggy) appears on a range of alternative shopping bags launched by the retailer in efforts to reduce the number of plastic carrier bags it gives out.