It's possible to locate the exact instant when Gisele Bündchen became the globe's reigning icon of feminine perfection: an April 7, 1999, shoot in the studio of the legendary photographer Irving Penn. That shoot marked the demise of fashion's so-called heroin-chic phase and the advent of a new, commercial era, in which models would dream of walking the runway for Victoria's Secret as much as they would for, I'm spitballing here, Alexander McQueen. Penn, 81 at the time, photographed the 18-year-old Brazilian gazing enigmatically over her shoulder, her hair thickly tangled, her body completely nude. In its July 1999 issue, Vogue used the black-and-white photo to illustrate an editorial called "The Return of the Curve.' Gisele would appear on five of the magazine's covers in the next year and would ignite an international fever for Brazilian models, and a more localized one in Hollywood for flip-flops and radioactively golden skin. Her Photoshop physique—volleyball-player limbs, Modigliani torso, actual breasts—would drive thousands of her countrywomen to seek implants (I'm not making this up; it was in The Wall Street Journal) and would help transform a cheesy mall-store company, Victoria's Secret, into a cheesy megacorporation. Today Gisele says simply, "I was there at the right time, I guess. I was the Girl Who Did That Picture, you know?' In Penn's photograph, she seems to be glancing backward at fashion history even as her angled waist carries her off the far edge of the frame. A print of the picture sold at auction at Christie's this past spring for $193,000.
Has any man ever turned you down? Do you have any reason to believe any man ever would?
I've always been in serious relationships. I meet someone and date him for a long period. I don't sit there thinking, like, "I wonder if I can seduce that guy.' I have other things in my mind.
I'm going to take that as a no.
It's funny, I don't even know how I meet those guys. It kinda happens.
The Relationship of Bündchen and Leonardo DiCaprio was evidently a stormy one, if the gossips are to be believed. The tabloids had her both pregnant and engaged at one point, but unable to marry because her Victoria's Secret contract forbade it. Apparently there was also an emergency consultation in the rain forest with a "sexual healer.' The couple broke up in 2005.
In 2002 you told an interviewer that you'd never had your heart broken. Is that still true today?
[briefly stumbles over her words] I've had my heart broken. But I think you can have your heart broken by your friends that you trust, or by—I don't think it necessarily has to be… I think sometimes you have high expectations for people because you have high expectations for yourself.
It was reported that after your breakup with Leo DiCaprio, you were so despondent that you cut off all your hair, à la Britney. Is that true?
Oh, my God. That's ridiculous.
How about that you needed an escort of forty-four bodyguards and an armored van to get to a fashion show in São Paulo?
No, that's crazy. But people are unbelievable. The other day a girl on my plane was pulling my hair. She was like, "I just want to check if—' This is all my hair, by the way. I did not have extensions, let me tell you.