She is the world’s pre-em­i­nent model—and a pas­sion­ate Brazil­ian. On the eve of the World Cup in Rio, Gisele Bünd­chen opens up about her 20-year ca­reer.

ELLE (Canada) - - Story Board - By Vir­ginie Do­lata Pho­to­graphs by Matt Jones

Gisele Bünd­chen:

the eter­nal golden girl.

By Vir­ginie Do­lata

IT’S THE DAY AF­TER THE OS­CARS. We’re stand­ing in a photo stu­dio in Los Angeles, and Gisele Bünd­chen is al­most a film unto her­self: a larger-than-life knockout in faded grey jeans and her sig­na­ture mop of hair. She’s chat­ting en­thu­si­as­ti­cally about her one-year-old daugh­ter, who is al­ready show­ing signs of be­ing “dra­matic.”

At 33 years old, Bünd­chen is cel­e­brat­ing 20 years as a model. It has been a fault­less jour­ney for the girl from Hor­i­zon­tina, a small town in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, who dreamed of be­ing a pro­fes­sional vol­ley­ball player for the na­tional team. That was be­fore Gisele Caro­line Non­nen­macher Bünd­chen was dis­cov­ered by an Elite Model Look con­test and Alexan­der McQueen.

You need only glance at the var­ied shots on her In­sta­gram page (which has over 1.6 mil­lion fol­low­ers) to fully ap­pre­ci­ate the breadth of her ca­reer. Voted the “world’s most pow­er­ful su­per­model” by Forbes, Bünd­chen is the face of brands from Chanel to Pantene, has her own lin­gerie line and is an ac­tive phi­lan­thropist. She earns roughly US$40 mil­lion a year, which, cou­pled with the suc­cess of her hus­band, Tom Brady, the hand­some quar­ter­back of Bos­ton’s New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots, means that at least a few gen­er­a­tions of lit­tle Bünd­chenBradys (start­ing with Ben­jamin Rein, four, and Vi­vian Lake, one) will likely be quite com­fort­able.

Now, Bünd­chen emerges from the chang­ing room in a bikini and steps in front of the cam­era, strik­ing her poses ef­fi­ciently, like a well-oiled ma­chine, while watch­ing her re­flec­tion in a mir­ror. She later shoots a quick glance at the mon­i­tor and says she loves the pho­tos—par­tic­u­larly the one in which she’s draped in the Brazil­ian flag. “Viva o Brasil,” she cries. “We’re go­ing to win!”

Are you ex­cited that this year’s World Cup is in Brazil?

“Soc­cer has al­ways been a huge part of the cul­ture of Brazil. People here are all geared up!” Are you go­ing to at­tend the matches? “Well, I would like to score a goal my­self. [Laughs] I’m very proud that I was born in Brazil. I love the spirit of the Brazil­ian people. There’s some­thing mag­i­cal about it. There’s a viva— there is joy. There is warmth—a sense of wel­come. When I first came to Amer­ica, I was hug­ging and kiss­ing ev­ery­one and people were shocked. Soc­cer sup­port­ers will come from dif­fer­ent parts of the world, and they will ex­pe­ri­ence that side of Brazil­ian life—all that beauty and en­ergy.” Are you pas­sion­ate about sports? “I’ve been ath­letic since I was lit­tle. I was the cap­tain of my vol­ley­ball team. I used to jog—even al­most naked in win­ter. I’m Sporty Spice!” What is your re­la­tion­ship with your body? “The body is a tem­ple. I en­joy mov­ing. I don’t play much vol­ley­ball h

any­more, but I ride horses, surf and play beach ten­nis. I play wher­ever I am. Kung fu, box­ing, yoga, Pi­lates.... It makes me feel alive. If I don’t move my body, I don’t feel good.” How do you feed that body? “I rarely eat meat, but I’m from the south of Brazil—I was raised on meat. I’m not an ex­trem­ist, but I need to know where my food comes from. If my food has been in­jected with an­tibi­otics and a whole lot of other stuff, I [un­for­tu­nately] end up eat­ing that as well. I keep chick­ens at home.” Where does that aware­ness come from? “My grand­par­ents were farm­ers. I used to watch my grand­mother milk cows. It was amaz­ing. That’s the big­gest gift my par­ents ever gave me and my five sis­ters. I re­mem­ber they used to swap pro­duce with neigh­bours. There was a won­der­ful sense of com­mu­nity. That’s why I shop at farm­ers’ mar­kets. There are co-op­er­a­tives in Bos­ton where you pay monthly and get what’s in sea­son. Some­times it’s zuc­chini for months at a time!”

Are you try­ing to pass that aware­ness on to your chil­dren?

“We plant a lot of veg­eta­bles and fruit to­gether. They un­der­stand the cy­cle of the sea­sons and why there are no straw­ber­ries in win­ter. Our health de­pends on the health of our planet. If we pol­lute our wa­ters, kill our trees and de­stroy our oceans, the earth will re­cy­cle it­self and chuck us out.” How do you deal with jug­gling your fam­ily and ca­reer? “It’s a con­stant bal­ance. Some­times when I go to bed, I’m happy that I did a good job that day. And some­times, I wish I’d done things dif­fer­ently. Now, it’s get­ting harder for me to travel for my job. I have a son whom I take to school, and I come back quickly to see my baby. I never feel 100-per­cent com­plete. I just want to stay at home now. Luck­ily, I’m able to choose more be­cause I have been do­ing this job for 20 years.” How do you keep your enthusiasm af­ter so long? “I come from a small town with only 10,000 people. When I started modelling, I thought this was a unique op­por­tu­nity. I feel the same way to­day. There are lots of sac­ri­fices, but it is a bless­ing to be able to do this job.” Why do you think your ca­reer has lasted? “People trust me when they book me for a job. The min­i­mum I give them is 100 per­cent. I’ve never been late for a job, I re­spect people and I want to be at my best ev­ery time: to show up and deliver. When I lose that, I’ll stop. I’ve done a mil­lion pho­tos in my life, and my ex­cite­ment for it re­mains in­tact.” What’s on your mind these days? “I want to learn more about my­self. I can be a mom, a wife, a friend, a model, but at the end of the day, the most im­por­tant re­la­tion­ship I have is with my­self. I have to live with my­self for the rest of my life!” How do you see the fu­ture? “I’m so ex­cited about the fu­ture, but I’m a per­son who re­ally fo­cuses on the present. To­mor­row is an­other day. I no longer worry about age.... Ev­ery sit­u­a­tion is a spe­cial mo­ment. Look, I’m re­ally here, with you! It’s an ex­cep­tional mo­ment that may never hap­pen again!”

Gisele Bünd­chen re­flects on 20 years at the top of the su­per­model game.

Jump­suit, belt and bracelet (Lan­vin)

Body­suit (Jo de Mer) and skirt (Osklen). For de­tails, see Shop­ping Guide. Stylist, Ines Néspoli; makeup, Brigitte Reis­sAn­der­sen (The Wall Group/Chanel Collection Les Beiges); hair, Danilo (The Wall Group/Pantene); man­i­cure, April Fore­man (The Wall Group);

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