Karen Elson never thought she was ''drop dead gorgeous''.

The model-turned-musician - who made her debut when she was photographed for the cover of Italian 'Vogue' on her 18th birthday - has revealed that she became a model because she wanted ''to escape'' everyday life and would compare her look to women in 1980s British music and fashion magazine 'The Face' when she was younger.

Speaking to Vogue UK, she said: ''There was this one girl who was really into make-up - she was a bit of a goth, actually - and she said to me, you could be a model. And I thought, maybe I could. I wanted to get out, I wanted to escape as quickly as possible and that seemed like the way.

''I took a chance on myself, and sometimes you've got to do that. I have tenacity in spades. I didn't look in the mirror and go, I'm so drop dead gorgeous I could do this, it was more like... I read 'The Face' and I'd flip through and think, I am that girl.

''I'm that off-kilter beauty that nobody would think was beautiful but then you see it in that magazine and it's something. I knew from a young age that I was not meant to be where I was.''

The 39-year-old beauty - who has children Scarlett, 11, and Henry, 10, with ex-husband Jack White - also confessed that she was bullied a lot when she was younger, however admits that it's given her a thicker skin which makes her ''appreciate'' the way she looks now ''more than ever''.

Karen added: ''When I was younger it was definitely difficult. I was called so many names. But as I've got older it's the thing that has helped shape the life that I live and I appreciate the way I look now more than I ever did. What makes a person beautiful is mercurial.

''It's an alchemy of things. It's the soul, it's the way you engage with the world. I'm not beholden to the way I look. I get morphed into so many people. Bullies are threatened by something they don't understand. All those characteristics that were off-putting growing up turned out to be my strength.''