Gisele Bündchen is writhing on the sheets of a bed in one of those airplane-hangar-sized New York City photography studios. It's the last setup of the day, and she's wearing a black bra along with something skimpy, satiny, and dark that she will later describe to me, with a straight face, as "boys' underwear." She works really quickly. Her fluid poses are a kind of rapid sex-symbol Tai Chi—fingers pass through hair, arms extend above head—and she moves from one into the next without making a single awkward gesture. Her expressions, though, are really something. I don't know how she manages not to cross the line into camp when she puts on a smoldering look, but she does. At one point, I find myself in her line of vision and our eyes meet, and while I'm only stating the obvious here, I must say, I am not man enough.
A few minutes later, we're sitting in swivel chairs in front of an enormous hair-and-makeup mirror that's bordered by a million tiny lights, the kind of mirror normal people shun like a staph infection if they know what's good for them. Gisele has changed into jeans and a gray T-shirt with an elaborately draped neck, and she is holding court. The sweet nothings, the air kisses, the swooning straight out of Versailles. At one point, a sleepy-talking French makeup guy approaches and—I can't even describe it:
Gisele: How does that [photo] look, the last one?
French makeup guy: I want a preent.
Gisele: You want a print?
FMG: I want a preent.
Gisele: [to me] He is the best.
FMG: No, she ees the best.
Gisele: [almost sadly] No.
FMG: She ees.
FMG: Well, look at this peecture.
Gisele: Do you like the last one?
FMG: It just confeerms what I'm saying—
Gisele: Oh, please.
FMG: …you are to die for.
Gisele's own accent can best be described as "Continental." She seems to have learned English from Italian designers, German hairstylists, and French makeup artists. Her enunciation is equal parts Donatella, Hans and Franz, and Maurice Chevalier. Right now she's studying a model-release form someone has just handed to her. "I have my own release form," she announces in a firm but friendly tone. "Just ask my agents; they'll send it to you."
Do you have a signature expression, like Zoolander's "Blue Steel," that you use when you want to be extra-seductive?
A photo is a story. Who will be this woman? Who will be wearing those sexy tops with boys' underwear? I try to understand. Who is she? What kind of mood is she in? Like, whatever, I'm in my bedroom. I'm like, my boyf—
And here she has the presence of mind to cut herself off. But we'll get to her boyf later.