Before the term “bombshell” became associated with curvy, sexually suggestive, and often blond-haired movie stars with a certain hedonist joie de vivre—perhaps most famously, Marilyn Monroe—it had other meanings.

Candice wears all clothing ALO YOGA / All jewelry ALEXIS BITTAR
Kate wears all clothing ALO YOGA
Daiane wears all clothing ALO YOGA / Bracelet ALEXIS BITTAR

Of course, its initial usage in the 17th century pertained to literal warfare and bombs. According to Merriam-Webster, it grew to mean “one who is stunning, amazing, or devastating.” When the Great Depression came around, “bombshell” became associated with dangerous women before its first Hollywood application to actress Jean Harlow, who was called “The Blond Bombshell” in the 1931 film Platinum Blonde.

Isabeli wears dress ISABEL MARANT / All jewelry MESSIKA
Maria wears all clothing and shoes VALENTINO

Like wild animals, bombshells can appear in various terrains—whether it’s the beach, gym, a clothing shop, or even just prowling down the streets while hunting for whatever they damn well please, talons ready and big, beautiful manes perfectly intact. V released five such bombshells—Kate Upton, Candice Swanepoel, Daiane Sodre, Isabeli Fontana, and Maria Klaumann—into the wild to capture how these head-turners can be found all around us when we least expect it. And despite looking tame, they can still be dangerous.

V MAGAZINE: Let’s start with the shoot. Can you describe that day?

CANDICE SWANEPOEL: I think all of us have been through a lot of crazy shoots. It was actually a really pleasurable day.

KATE UPTON: It was such a lovely day, which instantly puts you in a good mood. Plus, we were wearing workout clothes, so there’s a comfort level that you don’t always get on high fashion shoots. Also, I feel like, in the last couple of years, a little bit of creativity has been lost in editorial shoots… There have been so many recent shoots when they’ve been like, “Just come and be yourself.” And I think, I don’t really want to come on set and be me (laughs). I’m here to create something. And that’s really what this shoot felt like.

DAIANE SODRE: I want to add that it was one of the most special days of my career. Working with so many creative people and with two beautiful supermodels, I had to pinch myself so many times to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

ISABELI FONTANA: The day on set surpassed my expectations and I felt revitalized with the group. It’s always refreshing to be surrounded by art, creativity, and professionalism. I’m very excited for the results.

V: What are the best and hardest parts of your job?

MARIA KLAUMANN: The best part of the job is traveling the world, meeting new people, and being open to embodying different personalities in each job. The worst part is that the career is very uncertain, with irregular jobs and, most importantly, no guarantee of success.

IF: The most rewarding part of the job is how special I feel to be part of a major team like this and to be able to inspire others. The hardest part is that we must deal with insecurities and are not able to have a routine. Fashion requires us to live in several places, in several time zones. I have the opportunity to travel all over the world and am so thankful for that. However, many times I land in a city and have to go from the airport to the studio and from the studio to the hotel. I end up not even knowing the city I’m in. That being said, I am extremely grateful for the profession and the path I have taken in fashion.

V: For those of you who’ve modeled for many years now, how has the work changed?

“We spend so much time figuring out how to navigate a world, and then once you’ve figured it out, it changes.”

—Candice Swanepoel

CS: The beauty of our jobs is that it’s always evolving. Some people like change. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I fight against it a bit. We spend so much time figuring out how to navigate a world, and then once you’ve figured it out, it changes. The other day, I had to make a “Get Ready With Me” video, and I felt like it was easier for me to fly 15 hours across the world and to do a 12-hour day than to make one of those videos (laughs).

KU: I’ve never questioned my life more (laughs). For those of us who didn’t grow up knowing how to navigate these new apps, it can be really difficult. The content now is very much in real-time, and is very raw, which I like as well, but personally, I prefer the glamor of the old-school way of making content. Honestly, social media has changed every industry. Now you’re coming from a place of analytics. I see it in my husband’s [Justin Verlander] job playing baseball, too. Like, “Oh, how many new followers did you get? How many views?” It’s so funny because fashion never felt honest to people, but it actually was honest. And now it can be very calculated.

DS: I think it’s made the market much more versatile. You’re going to be able to see more bodies and ages. It also gave us another platform for work, especially during COVID. And a voice. For example, I’m an ambassador for three different charities, [Delivering Good, Larger Than Life USA, and Love Together Brazil], and I’m able to use [my] platform for that.

KU: That’s exactly why we needed her on set. We need this young positive energy (laughs). But yes, in the old-school world, it was hard to make a name for yourself. And there were only like five or six girls who were able to accomplish that. Social media expanded that and gave so many models platforms.

V: You ladies are very busy and very booked. I wonder what your ideal day looks like when you’re not working.

“Growing up in Brazil, I always admired iconic supermodels such as Gisele Bündchen, Adriana Lima, and Isabeli Fontana. To get the chance to work with Isabeli…was a dream come true.”

—Maria Klaumann

MK: My dream day would be skiing, then going to the spa, followed by sitting around a warm fire with family and friends.

DS: My perfect day would be on the beach, maybe in Miami, drinking coconut water, and having a massage with my dog next to me.

IF: A dream day would be getting a big house right in front of the beach to bring my family and friends to stay the entire day on the beach, eating great, and dancing.

CS: Mine would be sleeping until I want to because that’s not a part of my day anymore. So my perfect day would start with sleeping in, spending time outside on the beach, or in nature with my kids. Eating good food, listening to some good music, and massages would be involved for me as well. And going to sleep early. Like, my guilty pleasure is sleep.

Isabeli wears all clothing DOLCE & GABBANA / Bracelet MESSIKA / Shoes VALENTINO

“[Often], I land in a city and have to go from the airport to the studio and from the studio to the hotel. I end up not even knowing the city I’m in.”

—Isabeli Fontana

KU: My dream day is similar. Spending time with my family, doing something outside, whether it’s in nature or the water, paddle boarding, something involving animals—like going to a farm…Then having a movie night, staying in, having a good meal, and going to sleep early.

V: I love that three supermodels have the same ideal day, which basically involves sleeping, eating, being outside, and then it’s a toss-up between massages or hanging with kids.

KU: We’re really into necessities these days.

V: Who are some of your fashion icons?

MK: Growing up in Brazil, I always admired iconic supermodels such as Gisele Bündchen, Adriana Lima, and Isabeli Fontana. To get the chance to work with Isabeli, in V Magazine nonetheless, was a dream come true. She is constantly inspiring me, and I feel honored to receive guidance from her.

Maria wears dress and shoes PRADA

“Confident and empowered women have always disrupted the status quo.

—Kate Upton

IF: Stephanie Seymour, always.

V: With this story, we’re playing up the “traditional” use of the term bombshell. But the word has actually gone on an interesting journey full of changes in meaning. What does it mean to you today?

CS: In the past, a bombshell was purely about how women looked. It was meant to suggest that the woman was a sex symbol, but today it refers to women who are strong, confident, and successful.

DS: When someone calls me a bombshell, I take it (laughs). For me, every time and anytime I hear the expression “bombshell,” it is always in a positive way. I think of it as a strong, powerful, smart, and sexy woman that not only just owns who she is, but is able to influence people by expressing her sexuality, her wit, and her charm…The first thing that comes to my mind are the angels from Victoria’s Secret, Brigitte Bardot, Marilyn Monroe, etc. Bombshell has been used on some of the most influential, powerful women for generations.

Candice, Isabeli, Kate wears all clothing and accessories GUCCI

“[Social media] gave us another platform for work, especially during COVID. And a voice.”

—Daiane Sodre

KU: It’s interesting how “bombshell” has historically implied something “devastating” or “dangerous.” But to whom? Confident and empowered women have always disrupted the status quo. Previously it seems the term was most closely associated with a woman’s looks, and now it has grown to so much more. Today, “bombshell” signifies women fighting for basic rights of humanity such as reproductive rights, ownership of our bodies, gender pay gaps, and justice against violence and harassment. Did you know that until the 1970s, women in the U.S. were considered their husbands’ property? It’s sad that fighting for these basic rights is considered metaphorical to a bomb, but if that’s the case, then I’m proud to do so. I embrace being a “bombshell” and am grateful for others doing the same—mothers, career women, creatives, activists, politicians, leaders, and more.

This story appears in the pages of V149: now available for purchase!

Photography Alvaro Beamud Cortés

Fashion Nicola Formichetti

Creative Director / Editor-in-Chief Stephen Gan

Interview Mathias Rosenzweig

Makeup Raisa Flowers (E.D.M.A.)

Hair Akki Shirakawa (Art Partner)

Models Kate Upton, Candice Swanepoel, Daiane Sodre, Isabeli Fontana, Maria Klaumann (The Lions)

Set design Cristina Forestieri

Production HG Producers Inc

DOP/Video Editor Simone Triacca

Digital technician Christopher Murray

Photo assistants Simone Triacca, Craig Miller

Stylist assistants Brianna Dooley, Sophia Hernando

Makeup assistant Eunice Kristen

Hair assistant Ubu Nagano

Set design assistant Jonathan Ruffini

Catering Manuk Catering

Location Runway Swimwear / Anatomy Gym MIA

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