23 February 2009

Karen Mulder, b 1968, The Netherlands

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  1. In the mid 80's she saw an ad for Elite Model Management's "Look of the Year" contest in a newspaper. A friend took some photographs she had of her and sent them to Elite without her knowledge. She won the preliminary contest in Amsterdam, and was sent to the finals of the contest, placing second. She soon went to Paris for her first modeling shoot. She then left high school to travel to Italy with her mother for a formal photo shoot, and then to Paris for modeling school, where Elite took over her career.

    One of the first issues of Top Model magazine was entirely devoted to Mulder along with an entire issue of Italian Vogue. Her two appearances in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 1997 and 1998 and her poses for the Victoria's Secret catalogue increased Mulder's profile.

    Called "The Blonde With Class" by Vogue editors, she went on to share catwalks with models such as Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, and Naomi Campbell. At one point in her career she was earning up to £10,000 a day. Mulder retired from modeling in 2000.

    Afterwards, she tried other career paths. She branched out into acting, making her debut in the French short film A Theft, One Night in 2001. She also pursued a career in music but had limited success. Her first effort at establishing a music career was her cover version of Gloria Gaynor's "I Am What I Am", which appeared on the French music charts for a time in the summer of 2002.

    In 1988, at the age of 18, Mulder married French photographer René Bosne. By 1993, her marriage had fallen apart and they divorced. Mulder says her life changed in 1993 when she was shuttling from airport to airport with almost no time at home. She then met real estate developer Jean-Yves Le Fur in the waiting area of a Paris airport. Soon they became engaged.

    Le Fur began to manage Mulder's off-the-runway career. In 1995, he collaborated with Hasbro on a Karen Mulder doll, which spurred development of an entire line of dolls modeled on the day's supermodels. Le Fur and Mulder then did an infomercial and video. Mulder's favorite project she worked on was a beauty and fashion CD-ROM, in which she gave makeup, beauty, and exercise tips. In 1995, she bought a château in France and set up a scheme to provide holidays there for underprivileged children.

    In 1997, Mulder planned to "spend most of the year at home in Monaco with Yves." But soon after this, Mulder and Le Fur's engagement ended.

    In April 1998, Mulder announced she was thinking of quitting modeling and revealed some of her true feelings. "From the beginning, I hated being photographed", she told reporters at the time. "For me, it was just an assumed role, and in the end, I didn't know who I really was as a person. Everybody was saying to me, `Hi, you're fantastic.' But inside, I felt worse from day to day."

    After leaving the modeling industry, Mulder took singing lessons and tried acting but spent a lot of time traveling, often with her new boyfriend, a wealthy Colombian named Julio Mario Santo Domingo, whom she dated until February 2001. Although she had been happy to stop modeling, she later told the press that working had been a convenient way to avoid her problems. "My job distracted me from my worries", she told a French magazine. "It enabled me not to be myself, to pretend I was someone else. But when my energy was no longer directed toward this one goal to meet, the anguish caught up with me."

    In 2001, Mulder alleged she and other girls were used as sex slaves by senior figures in the police and French government. She also filed a rape complaint in France against Prince Albert of Monaco.

    On October 31, 2001, Mulder claimed during a taping of the French channel France 2 show Tout le Monde en Parle (Everyone is Talking About It) hosted by Thierry Ardisson, and with a live audience in the studio, that various people, including top executives at her former agency, Elite, and Prince Albert of Monaco, had tried to rape her. Moreover, Mulder said that her own father had hypnotized her from the age of two and then raped her. The producers of the show deemed her emotionally unstable and did not broadcast the interview. Not only was the show never aired, but the entire recording was erased.

    Days later, Mulder repeated her allegations, this time to a weekly magazine in an interview conducted in her Paris apartment. Within hours of the interview, her sister Saskia arrived and took her to Villa Montsouris, a psychiatric hospital specializing in such disorders as depression, anxiety, and delirium, where she stayed for five months. The stay reportedly was paid for by Elite models president Gerald Marie, an old friend of hers. Her father later publicly blamed her troubles on drugs.

    In later interviews, Mulder said that those close to her were refusing to acknowledge that she had been sexually abused by an old family friend, now dead, when she was two years old. She had repressed the incident for years but had pieced it back together in psychoanalysis after she quit modeling. She said it was the explanation for her teenage battle with anorexia, her excitable moods, and her constant flights between laughter and tears. No one believed her allegations, however.

    Feeling increasingly isolated, Mulder finally broke down. "It seemed everyone was against me", she later remembered about this period. "People told me I was fantasizing, that my psychoanalysis was wrong. So in order to be heard, I exaggerated. And I went overboard." Since then, she has recanted the rape allegations she made to the press and apologized to Prince Albert. She continued to insist that she was sexually abused as a child.

    On December 11, 2002, after suffering for years from chronic depression, Mulder went into a coma after she overdosed on sleeping pills in an apparent suicide attempt. She left no note. She was rushed to the American Hospital in Neuilly after neighbors found her passed out on the floor of the Paris apartment on exclusive Avenue Montaigne where she was staying with friends. Mulder's parents flew from the Netherlands to be by her side along with former fiancé Jean-Yves Le Fur. Le Fur was reportedly one of the people who found Mulder unconscious after arriving at the apartment after Mulder had not answered several of his telephone calls. She awoke from her coma the next day.

    Upon discharge from the hospital, Mulder stayed out of the limelight to recover for about a year. Mulder was quoted in Gaia magazine in 2004 as being more trustful in the future: "At this moment, I am rather happy. But it takes time to cure the wounds. I know that I am on the way. Today, I want to live, quite simply!"

    In the summer of 2004, Mulder decided to re-enter the music industry. She worked with Daniel Chenevez of the Niagara group to create the self titled CD Karen Mulder. She gave birth to a daughter, Anna, on October 30, 2006.

    On July 1, 2007 she returned to the catwalk at the Dior Autumn/Winter 07/08 Couture Collection in Paris, modelling alongside Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Helena Christensen, Amber Valletta, Shalom Harlow and Stella Tennant.