“Getting the name of a loved one tattooed on you jinxes the relationship,” says Éve Salvail. She should know. She had the name of a girlfriend tattooed three separate times—and each time they broke up, she had to get the name covered up again. Lucky in love, it seems she’s not. But she has had some luck as a model.Salvail, who grew up in Quebec, made her name in the ’90s as the muse to designer Jean Paul Gaultier. “He visited a café in Montreal where there were pictures of me displayed,” she says. Of course Gaultier must have noticed her almond eyes and killer cheekbones, but no doubt what attracted him was also her shaved head and the large dragon tattoo on her scalp. For that, she has her dad to thank. “I wanted to shave my head, but my father was like, ‘Sinéad O’Connor already did that.’ My friends and I were in Japan at the time, and we saw this bald guy with the UK flag on his head, and that got me thinking about a tattoo. I called my dad to ask for his opinion, and he said go for it.” So Salvail shaved her head and brought an image of an ancient Chinese dragon to an artist known for tattooing members of the Japanese mafia. “He looked at the dragon, which I had shrunk down, and he said no. He wanted to do it the original size it was pictured, which basically took up my whole head. I said fine, but it was so painful. It took four hours, I was crying so hard my head was shaking and he had to stop several times.”
Her other tattoos were less painful, but perhaps even more meaningful. The lizard on her hip, for example, is a memorial to a friend she lost to leukemia. “I met this 15-year-old girl because she had cancer, and she made a wish through the Make-a-Wish foundation that she wanted to meet me. She had a lizard tattooed on her head, and when she passed two years later, I got the tattoo.”Éve has been doing charity work for leukemia charities since. In fact, she had been wearing her hair long for most of 2007, and just before her photo shoot with Inked, she cut it all off for a charity.
These days, she also spends her time working on a career in music. She picks up gigs deejaying for fashion and music-industry parties, and wants to work on doing more producing. “Eventually, I would also like to get myself a little record,” she says. “I grew up listening to punk, but now my music is sort of pop-rock-folk.” And even though she had a role in The Fifth Element, she doesn’t think she’ll return to acting anytime soon. “I studied method acting, so to act I would have to bring up all these old memories, and that’s so scary. I think I would bring up these sad things, and then I would never be able to leave my work at work.” Luckily, modeling and music only require her to live in the moment.