Flashback Friday: Gisele in the Flesh
Reminiscing on what it’s like to openly enjoy the outdoors and travel, V can’t get enough of Gisele Bündchen’s V54 cover.
Much has changed since Gisele Bündchen’s iconic 2008 V54 cover—however, one fact remains the same—she is still the reigning super beauty of the ’00s. What now marks 20 years after Gisele stepped in front of the lens, Bündchen has since welcomed two beautiful children into the world. Exuding the same confidence, the never-look-back bombshell is both a model and role-model. As an environmental activist, author, actress, and businesswoman, and yoga enthusiast…it still must be in the jeans.
Gisele continues to reflect on her current life, contemplating how she can continuously be the best version of herself, offer advice to others, and support the planet. While enjoying her little ones and husband, her family continues to show support amid the coronavirus outbreak and spread positivity. This Friday we are flashing it back to this honest conversation between Derek Blasberg and Gisele Bündchen. V can’t get enough of the stunning customized jean ensembles—or lack thereof—Gisele wore on a beach in sunny Malibu.
To get your hands on a copy of the V54 issue plus more from the archives, join the V Collector’s Club. Revisit, down below.
Gisele has just woken up from an afternoon nap when I arrive at her New York town house. Her supermodel hair is tangled and she has a men’s sweater messily strewn over her taut body. Before excusing herself to spruce up, she offers me some water from the tap (an environmentalist of her word, Gisele doesn’t buy wasteful water bottles anymore and has installed filtration systems). I listen to the adolescent melodies streaming in from a children’s music school next door, and check out the frames on her bookshelf: a portrait of the BUndchens (Gisele’s parents and five sisters), backstage snapshots of model pals, and candids of her and her boyfriend, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, one of which captures the ridiculously attractive couple in a lip-lock. Not two minutes later, after brushing her teeth and running her fingers through her hair, Gisele reappears in a mist of her own gorgeousness. She is now perfectly fresh, a radiant goddess without a stitch of makeup. Very few women in the world can go from groggy to glam that quickly, but then, very few women are Gisele. Very few women stand at nearly 6 feet and possess a body that is equal parts athletic and seductive. Ten years ago, at the tail end of an era when “waif” and “minimal” were the fashion buzzwords, Gisele landed her first Vogue cover, the July 1999 issue proclaiming, “The Return of the Sexy Model.” Since then, her buxom body and bubbly personality have steamrolled onto the covers of more than five hundred magazines and into the campaigns of nearly every luxury label. She was the millennium model-tan, curvaceous, and hardworking. But perhaps more important than her appearance (as we discovered in subsequent years, lots of hot girls live in Brazil), she was, and still is, utterly honest and completely passionate-ask her a question about today’s media, expect a heated discussion. Even in the Zen-like confines of her plush lodgings, Gisele is the fast-talking, opinionated, and forthright woman she’s been since her first photo shoot more than a decade ago. Derek Blasberg
Derek Blasberg Let’s talk about these pictures.
GISELE BUNDCHEN Only Mario [Testino] could make me take those pictures. Ah! The only person that can get me to do stuff like this is Mario. You know what he’s like …
DB The shirt a bit lower! Just take the pants off!
GB But with Mario it’s safe. He was the first photographer that shot me when I started. With him I always feel, “Oh, it’s for Mario, I’ll do it.” He’s very warm-he’s Peruvian but he likes to think he’s Brazilian.
DB What was the shoot like?
GB The funniest of my life. I thought it was only the cover, so I arrived at 3 p.m. The sun sets at 5:30 p.m., so we had two hours. Normally when Mario sees me he sits with me and wants to chat, but this time he puts me straight in the chair and starts hair and makeup-at the same time! I’m like, What’s going on? Why are you stressing? Mario says, “No, no, no, we have to shoot a whole story!” Of course he didn’t tell anybody. They do me up, and everyone runs to the beach. I don’t see the clothes. I don’t know what’s happening.
DB And they come out with these denim numbers?
GB Denim? There is basically no denim. This is how to wear denim without wearing denim. But I’m a professional and I’m doing my job. We get to this faraway beach and I put that outfit on, and we’re ready to take the picture. Then-I have never seen anything like this-after four minutes, Mario’s assistant yells, “Cover her!” We look back and these guys have lenses this long. They looked like telescopes. There were fifty of them.
DB Oh yes, the paparazzi pictures that spoiled this little shoot. They showed up in four minutes?
GB Seriously. Four minutes. We got there and it was empty-I’m looking at the camera and James [Kaliardos] is putting cream on [my bottom] and everyone is doing their job-and then I scream! So Mario refused to shoot on the beach, they put a robe on me and we went back up the mountain.
DB So basically you went all the way to the beach to shoot in front of a bush?
GB But how can you shoot on the beach when there’s fifty men with lenses that can see your pores and your dental work? Malibu is the worst place in the world.
DB Aren’t you used to that type of thing, though? [TomBrady, in workout gear, has entered the room and I gesture towards him.] It cannot be that uncommon by now.
GB No, I’m sorry, I’m doing my job. I think it’s completely disrespectful to everyone. [To Tom, who is going for a workout] Bye, lovey.
DB Has it gotten worse?
GB Yes. You go out on the street and these people are following you and asking you the dumbest questions. They are insulting. Honestly, I’m just embarrassed.
DB Do you talk to them?
GB No! I’m like this. [She pulls her hair over her face and hunches her shoulders.] And then I’m “Gisele the bitch.” Why would I talk to them? They’re destroying my weekend!
DB And now they have video cameras and shout nasty things.
GB I saw [a paparazzo] yesterday at brunch and he was asking me horrible questions. Normally I don’t say anything, but this time I said, “You know what I think you should do?” And the guy was like, “Yeah! Yeah! What should I do? Tell me, Gisele!” I said, “I think you should go and enjoy your day.” I wanted to say a few other things after that, but what I wanted to say I can’t repeat.
DB I’ve read the tabloids where they say you cursed Tom’s Super Bowl and then they ask you about his child with an ex-girlfriend. Those aren’t the nicest topics to ponder while running to the store for some milk.
GB These are not people that live in awareness. It upsets me because the media has a huge responsibility: they can either bring people to a higher consciousness, or put them in the gutter. The people who read that garbage don’t know me. And now they see me walking out of my house pissed off because someone is following me, and then they put out a video that says “Gisele is a supermodel-and a super bitch!” Excuse me, I’m not a bitch. You are the bitch! You’re the bitch for following me! How am I the bad person? I’m just living my life.
DB We’ll attest to your work ethic; you’ve always been that model that gets the job done. But it’s worth asking: did you have any idea-or any desire-to attract the kind of fame that you have now?
GB C’mon ! I’ve been in this business for ten years. If I wanted you to see more of me you would have seen more by now.
DB Did you anticipate your life changing so dramatically?
GB When I was 14 years old I did this job because it was a way to make money and help my parents out. It happens that I’ve been successful. Now I’m 27 and I keep doing it because it works for me. I remember the paparazzi when I moved to L.A. in 2000. I used to smoke, so maybe a picture of me would come out where I’m smoking and I would be like, “Oh no, my mother is going to kill me.” But I didn’t know that picture was taken; I didn’t feel invaded. Now they sit in front of my house all day. The first thing in the morning is them this close to me. And if you touch them they yell that they’re going to sue. Believe me, if I had my way I would go around punching people.
DB It must be worse for the men.
GB Yes! ‘Cause guys are naturally protective. Doesn’t Sean Penn hit them?
DB He used to. Now you see why.
GB I remember when I was a kid and how I was inspired. I read stories about Gandhi and world leaders-they were amazing. What are the kids aspiring to be in American culture? I worry about having children.
DB Do you watch TV?
GB No. I don’t want that kind of garbage in my mind. I’d rather go to bed and read a good book. People don’t want to become good people now. They want to become famous. Whatever they have to do for that they’ll do. The media should take more responsibility for what it’s creating.
DB It’s like the Miley Cyrus picture that was on every news show. Did you see that? The 15-year-old girl in Vanity Fair wearing just a sheet?
GB Can you believe this is news? It’s ridiculous. And the politicians aren’t going to create any laws about this [kind of media saturation]. They’re very happy with it. They can go around doing what they want and no one cares because we’re more concerned about some 1 5-year-old girl holding a sheet in a picture. No one cares about what [the politicians are] screwing up, or how much money is being lost.
DB Miley Cyrus is topless so we aren’t talking about the war.
GB We aren’t talking about anything important.
DB Do you read those lists you’re on? Like, you’re Forbes’s richest model and the sixteenth richest woman in entertainment?
GB Okay, let me tell you something: I’ve been a model for ten years and I don’t have a publicist. I am the only person I know that does not have one. Do you know why? Because I don’t want them to talk about me. For my job I need an agent. Where am I going? What time is my flight? Who am I working with? That’s what I need to know. I have nothing to say to people who gossip about me. The more I talk, the more I feed into this craziness that I don’t want to be associated with.
DB Wait, so you’re not the fourth sexiest woman in the world?
GB Can you please tell me who makes up those numbers? ‘Cause I want to meet him.
DB And you’re not the number one richest model?
GB He doesn’t know my accountant. The guy who makes up that number needs to meet my accountant and they need to talk and find out who took all the money in my account.
DB Is fashion a part of your daily life?
GB I work in fashion but I’m not really a fashion person. I don’t follow trends. I couldn’t tell you which designer made that shoe or that bag. I like jeans. I like comfortable clothes. I’m all for feeling good in what you wear. I don’t do shows anymore, so I don’t even know who is doing what now. I do my job, which is to make the clothes look like they’re supposed to, and to interpret what the photographer, designer, and stylist want in a picture.
DB You play a part
GB Yes, look at these pictures. This is Gisele-as-a-super-sexy-punk-rocker-in-ripped-everything. Do you think I would ever wear that? I’m a tomboy and I’m a goofball. Never in my life would I wear anything close to those clothes. After the shoot I take the clothes off, go home, and do whatever I want. For me it’s just a job.
DB That’s true. We don’t hear diva stories about you hitting people or getting into fights with airport security.
GB Look, I just think that everybody deals with their demons in different ways, and everybody finds a different way to express their frustrations. I’m a fortunate person. This job has given me a lot of opportunities-I speak five languages, know half the world, meet very interesting people, and I’m 27 years old and financially independent. So I’m not going to spit on the plate that feeds me. When I go to a job people are relying on me.
Everyone-from the hair person to the caterer to the stylistis there to do a job, and if I screw it up I’m screwing up twenty people’s day. That’s not fair. Who am I to do that? I just do what is expected of me and become the persona they want. When I’m there I’m not Gisele-’cause believe me I have opinions about everything-I’m a canvas. I’ve accepted that.
DB Have you had an embarrassing moment on the job?
GB Not really. I’ve tripped on the runway a few times.
DB What about when PETA stormed the runway at that Victoria’s Secret show?
GB Oh, that was embarrassing. But I didn’t see that as a personal attack. I’m a good person, I love animals, and I’m comfortable with who I am. [PETA] just wanted attention, and they wanted the person that could draw the most. They put their agenda on me, but it wasn’t about me. And I didn’t take it.
DB You shouldn’t have to.
GB People will always have an opinion. Some people look at me and say, “I can’t believe this girl is even working. She should be a cleaning lady:’ And then another will say I’m beautiful. If I’m too concerned that one thinks I’m not worth a penny or the other thinks I am, where does that leave me? At the end of the day, it’s about what those people think about themselves. That catwalk wasn’t about me. I was just doing my job. I was okay with it. They just wanted to get attention.
DB But you are good at drawing attention, Gisele. Let’s look at these pictures again.
GB You know, people are going to say my butt is showing too much in these-but, I’m sorry, my butt showed more in Victoria’s Secret. For seven years my butt was in every catalog. It’s hypocrisy: those [paparazzi] pictures ran everywhere, and everyone was talking about my butt. This is V Magazine-if you’re going to do something like that, you do it for V.
DB So what’s next? Word is you’re in the next Austin Powers movie.
GB Oh yes. And I’m the new Bond girl. And I have a clothing line with Dolce & Gabbana. I don’t know where they get this stuff. I called Domenico and Stefano and said, “Where are my clothes, guys?” They laughed. Same thing with Austin Powers-none of it’s true. And I didn’t ask to be paid only in euros. There was something about me demanding to be paid in euros, which is false. Most of the time, I don’t even know what’s going on.
DB You’re in bed with a book.
GB The other day at the airport I stopped to buy a magazine-I like design magazines, like Architectural Digest-and saw this little girl, maybe 15, who had five magazines, all gossip magazines! I wanted to ask her mother, “Why is your daughter reading this garbage? What do you think it’s going to inspire your daughter to be in her life?”
DB Because you have other things on your mind. You have a bunch of environmental info and videos on your website.
GB I have a line of flip-flops in Brazil [with lpanema], and in the last three years we’ve been donating proceeds to protect local water sources and replant forests. Look, I have a huge concern for so many other things going on in the world. I paid for a study about violence that is being edited into a book at the end of the year; we researched for three and a half years with fifty sociologists. While everyone is going around saying crazy things about my life I’m concerned with the destruction of our planet. Why don’t they talk about that? Or, forget about what I’m doing altogether, why don’t they talk about what’s going on in the environment in these magazines?
DB You mean report on global warming instead of your ranking as the fourth sexiest woman in the world?
GB Yes! ‘Cause I. Don’t. Give. A. Shit! Do I look like I care?
DB Not in these pictures, honey.