Name at birth: Christine Lallouette
Christine Lagarde is the former French finance minister who became head of the International Monetary Fund in 2011. Christine Lagarde grew up in Normandy, and as a teenager she studied on exchange at the Holton Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland. She earned a law degree from the University of Paris and did graduate work at the Institute of Political Studies at Aix-en-Provence in southern France. She began working in France for the US-based law firm Baker & McKenzie in 1981. As noted by Forbes, "Rising quickly, she became a partner in 1987, managing partner of the Paris office in 1991 and chairman in 1999. She was just 43." She left the company to become France's trade minister in 2005. Tall and striking, with silver hair, she became known for her brainy management style, calm persistence in negotiations, and frank honesty. (The French press labeled her Madame La Gaffe after some early blunt statements caused an uproar.) In 2007, new French President Nicolas Sarkozy named her minister of agriculture, and then one month later made her France's finance minister. Lagarde was the first woman to hold the post. She helped to push through pension reforms and an easing of the ironclad 35-hour work week, and was widely praised for working with other major countries to ride out the economic crash of 2008. Christine Lagarde became head of the International Monetary Fund in July of 2011 at a time of crisis in the organization, after the sudden resignation of its former head, Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Her five-year term runs through 2016. She was named a Chevalier in the French Legion of Honor in 2000.
Christine Lagarde has been married twice. With her first husband, Wilfrid Lagarde, she has two sons: Pierre-Henry (born c. 1986) and Thomas (born c. 1988). Who’s Who in the World (28th edition, 2011) says of this marriage: “m. Wilfrid Lagarde, June 17, 1982 (div. Apr. 1992)”… Her second husband was Eachran Gilmour, a businessman… Some sources say Christine Lagarde was born in Le Havre, but her online biography from the French government states that she was “Née à Paris en 1956″ — born in Paris in 1956… Christine Lagarde is 1.8 meters tall — about 5’11” — according to a 2011 profile in The Observer… She is reported to be an avid swimmer and was on the French national synchronized swimming team as a teenager.