Ford Models Blog

A Look back with Gabrielle von Canal by Damien Neva

A couple times per month we will be sitting down with models from decades past to look back on their modeling careers. With the help of Patty Sicular, of the Ford Models’ classic division, we will bring you the story of the models that made history with Ford Models. ‒ Ford Models Blog Editor

Model Gabrielle von Canal first met Eileen Ford in Paris in 1968 and the following year joined Ford Models in New York. The list of photographers with whom Gabrielle worked in her career is staggering. Amongst others they include Jean Paul Merzagora, Bill Silano, Alex Gotfryd, Helmut Newton, Neal Barr, Richard Avedon, Joel Baldwin, Richard Blinkoff, Hiro, Bob Krieger, Gideon Lewin, Gordon Munro, Irving Penn, Rico Puhlmann, Matthew Rolston, Bruce Laurence, Francesco Scavullo, Horst P. Horst, and Arthur Elgort.

Asked about some of the most interesting experiences in her modeling career Gabrielle mentioned traveling to Kathmandu for a shoot with Town & Country, being photographed by Helmut Newton in the Sahara, and all the photo shoots she did with Jean Paul Merzagora, whom she considers the greatest of photographers during the 1960s in Paris.

Gabrielle featured in many campaigns including Revlon, Oil of Olay, and Clairol as well as in editorials for Italian Harper’s Bazaar, Madame, Petra, Constanze, and Elle.

Today Gabrielle lives happily at lake Chapala, Mexico.

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Richard Blinkoff)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Richard Blinkoff)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Bob Krieger)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Bob Krieger)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Rico Puhlmann)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Rico Puhlmann)

Gabrielle von Canal

Gabrielle von Canal

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Joel Baldwin)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Joel Baldwin)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Helmut Newton)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Helmut Newton)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Jean Paul Merzagora)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Jean Paul Merzagora)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Alex Gotfryd)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Alex Gotfryd)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Bob Krieger)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Bob Krieger)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Jean Paul Merzagora)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Jean Paul Merzagora)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Jean Paul Merzagora)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Jean Paul Merzagora)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Bob Krieger)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Bob Krieger)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Bob Krieger)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Bob Krieger)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Jean Paul Merzagora)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Jean Paul Merzagora)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Jean Paul Merzagora)

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Jean Paul Merzagora)

47 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Absolutely Timless & Stunning…!

Comment by Jon Rameses

Wonderful story and pictures. Thank you so much for this blog.

Comment by Linda Morand

wonderful memories of happy times in years gone by —–
thanks for the memories — hope there are more to come,,,,

Comment by sue charney

thank you for taking care of me.

Comment by liliana

Gabrielle von Canal (Photography: Jean Paul Merzagora)reminds me of Heidi Klum.
At that time there was much more class and more soffisticated women-models.
Gabrielle von Canal is a real beauty.

Comment by silvia

…and she is still looking good!

Comment by Alexander von Canal (brother)

thank you little fabulous brother !!

Comment by gabrielle von canal

This is stunning, and as good or better than what today’s super models produce.
I am so glad for you, my beautiful big sister that you are honored this way. Well deserved!

Comment by Angelika Christie ND

thank you my lovely little sister for your compliment .
but we know that inner beauty is more important !

Comment by gabrielle von canal

Wunderschoene Fotos von Dir liebe Gabriele welche mir Birgit zuschickte. Aber nicht nur hast Du ausserliche Schoenheit aber dazu Karisma und gutherzigkeit was ich persoenlich kenne.

Comment by Annemarie Hofling

The last words in the last song of the Beatles are:
And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make.
You are so beautiful, inside and still outside.
I love you !!

Comment by Gil von Canal (brother)

how lucky can i get to have you in my life .

Comment by gabrielle von canal

A beautiful woman from a golden age of modeling, when working in Paris with the greatest photographers, like Jean Paul Merzagora, made the profession of modeling the dream of exciting careers.

Comment by Peter Marlowe

Beautiful pictures! Thank you Gabrielle and Patty for a great blog.

Comment by dore hammond

I know i have some beautiful photos of you..
I must now find them…

Comment by stan shaffer

My beautiful friend is more beautiful today, inside and out. Love seeing some of her famous photos. We are so lucky to have her here in Ajijic making the town more beautiful. Of course Gary is looking pretty good as well. Pat

Comment by gabrielle von canal

Gabrielle, what a great show of photos….you have always been so beautiful, and I am so proud to know you and so happy that we worked together. It really is great to see how hard you worked over the years, and you are still working….how many models have lasted as long and looked so great for so long.
Congratulations….you are my inspiration! Keep up the great work!

Comment by Nancy Grigor

hola Nancy,
how are you beautiful !i am lucky to live in the sun . hope to see you again on my next new york visit .thank’s for the compliment .
love gabrielle

Comment by gabriellevc

Dear Gaby-lein,
What an honor it has been to have been one of your bookers…I still remember the very first booking we did together…It was for The New York Times Sunday Magazine… and they photographed you putting your lipstick on, while looking in a mirror…
I have always loved working with you !!! I miss not speaking to you each and every day, about 4pm to get your bookings and appointments for the next day.
Much Love,

Comment by Patty

yes my dearest ..i miss that too and having lunch with you . you have done a great job and thank you for such support and sending my blog to so many people who reply in such a nice way and i do not even know them .
well i thank them all for their kind words .
hope you are having a great vacation til febr 7th ?
please come to visit ..anytime exept may this year .love you
gabrielle / gabilein

Comment by gabrielle von canal

What a BEAUTY. You are an inspiration for me. Your inner beauty has left lasting impressions on all who knew or worked with you. You are a tough act to follow but I will give it my best.

Comment by Juliette Branker

WOW, such a great legacy…and such intelligent beauty! Love it!!!…and Gabrielle!!!
Sir T

Comment by Sir Terance White

A pleasure to see such artistic photos.

Comment by Allison Walton

so beautiful then….so beautiful now…and yes, inside and out. How lucky I have been to have you in my Fashion Show fund raisers for Red Cross here in Ajijic…Gabby you are an inspiration to many many women and I am happy to know you and spend time with you….Cece

Comment by Cece Girling

I have worked with Gabrielle for many years and she is one of the most beautiful faces (and personalities) I have ever painted and done hair on. Looking at this pictorial journey of such a wonderful career makes me smile a very warm and loving smile. One of the most beautiful women in the world!!!

Comment by James Weis

Beautiful photos of my very beautiful friend, GAby. Aren’t we all so lucky to have you here in Ajijic; still so stunning but also generous and compassionate. Nice to read the comments, especially those from your brother.

Comment by Patricia Doran

thank’s Pat ! i wished i knew you when you worked at “Womens Wear Daily “but it’s special to have you as my friend today .
love you

Comment by gabrielle

james ,hat wonderful compliment coming from you means a lot .
you did magic on me . thank you
. stay in touch
love gabrielle

Comment by gabrielle

thank’s Patty ,i did not know i still get friends to react to my blog
ps : did you think that i should add a recent picture ?do you still have the recent pics for the macy’s job, that i e-mailed ?

Comment by gabrielle

I remember all the editorials and ad campaigns and always I thought your bone structure and conveyance of elegance was superbly captured by each photographer…truly magnificent! Thank you Patty for bringing us the great beauties to us in retrospect…lovely!

Comment by Susan McGraw Keber

Gabrielle, thank you so much for sending me this link. I’ve met Gary a couple of times and it was a pleasure to meet you by Lake Chapala this morning. As we walked and talked, I was struck by your zest for life, as well as by your beauty — and I see both things in these photos as well.

It looks to me like you have managed to have a tremendous amount of fun over the years!

Comment by Rosana Hart

really nice pics maybe we meet again by chance while looking for a nice resteront in the street 😉 galapagos

Comment by alon

yes ,Alon ,i would love to run into you again sometime ,but you know where we are take that destination one day …beautiful Mexico !!
warm greetings to you .take care of yourself !

Comment by GABRIELLE

Hi Gabrielle. I remember you visiting our house when you were married to Charlie Conliffe. And swimming in your pool in Charlestown. I always had fond memories of you. My sister Rhonda and you were close. She’s doing very well, happily married with 2 grown kids in college. Hope you are well. From the youngest of the Crook girls. Amy

Comment by Amy (Crook) Barbarossa

hola Amy ,
my greetings to you and Rhonda from sunny Mexico.
all is well with us too (gary and me )
if you have a chance ,please send me a photo of you and Rhonda to my e-mail :
so i know what you look like today.
take care

Comment by GABRIELLE

I`m so glad to see you in march 2011

Comment by Gil von Canal

Hallo, your brother Gil is a very fine man er ist wirklich wundervoll und du kannst stolz darauf sein ihn zu haben und er hat eine wunderschöne Schwester

Comment by Bettina Kreitz

Cara Gabriel,

thank you for sharing.
We are in our country house looking at your wonderful pictures, at the center of them a wonderful creature.

Looking foreword to meet you in Europe

Your acquerello will soon follow


Comment by Luigi and Giulio

wish i was there .happy and healthy 2011 for you all . and thank you for being still my fans !!


ciao Gabrielle, you are fantastic!

Comment by Carlo Poss

It is so wonderful to revisit this lovely and gracious beauty. I fondly remember many hours working in Neal Barr’s studio with her. How can you ever forget someone with so may talents and attributes – and in that gorgeous package! I am so happy to know that she is well and happy enjoying the sunshine.


Comment by Karen Britt

thank you of my best too at Neal’s studio.and you !


Bonjour de Paris,

J’ai bien connu Jean-Paul Merzagora quand il était “model” dans une agence au 29, rue Tronchet à Paris, près de la Madeleine. Avant qu’il ne devienne un grand photographe entre 1969 et 1972, une carrière courte – 3 ans – puisqu’il se suicidera à Noël 1972.
Mes hommages admiratifs à l’une de ses inspiratrices préférées !

Patrick Guyhart

Comment by Guyhart Patrick

merci , Patrick.
je lui fais photograph ,installer son studio ,car je savais comme il avait le talent extraordinaire . j’etais aussi sa fiancee …mais il a fait une decision fatal pour tous qui l’aime.

Comment by gabrielle

Merci, Gabrielle, pour votre réponse que je ne lis qu’aujourd’hui.
A Paris, quand je suis dans le quartier de La Madeleine, j’entre parfois dans l’immeuble où il y avait l’agence de mannequinat pour laquelle il travaillait avant de devenir photographe.
Je ne me souviens plus où était son studio de photographe.
Par contre je me souviens qu’il avait un bateau “L’Astrolabe” qui était basé à Saint-Malo en Bretagne.
Je me souviens aussi d’avoir dîné avec lui à “La Coupole” à Montparnasse et d’avoir vu sa dernière expo à la FNAC-Wagram quelques semaines avant son suicide.
Il est enterré dans un petit cimetière à Rothéneuf, près de Saint-Malo, près de son frère Roland.
Revenez-vous parfois à Paris ? c’est toujours une belle ville !

Comment by Guyhart Patrick

My beautiful sister…how I enjoyed visiting her in NYC and meeting so many nice people at the Ford Agency:-)

Without you there, sis, NYC is not quite the same for me.
But her house in Mexico is nice too.

When do you come for your Luxury Spa ( you always called it Geli’s Spa ) to Freeport, Bahamas in my townhouse?
It is always there for you and also available for friends and Models that need some wonderful rest and relaxation.

Have a look here:

Much love,
Angelika (Geli)

Comment by Angelika


Comment by gabrielle

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