She continues to appear in adverts but Gisele Bündchen’s recent retirement from the catwalks at the age of 35 sent her legions of fans into mourning.
Born in the Brazilian countryside, Bündchen was almost six foot tall when she was 14 and made her modelling debut for Alexander McQueen in 1998, aged 18.
The late fashion icon said he initially chose Bündchen for her ability to walk a runway in high heels, but she took things a lot further. She’s credited for pioneering the ‘horse walk’ – the now typical peacocking, knees-up stomp of the supermodel.
Bündchen would have been a huge hit in the ’80s thanks to her thick-haired old-school glamazon image, but she didn’t find it hard to succeed in the late-’90s.
Her bronzed limbs, blue eyes and Amazonian perfection (only added to by her wholesome freckles) marked the end of the ’80s’ addiction to grungy heroin chic. In 1999 Vogue used a black and white shot of Bündchen to front an article about the change called The Return Of The Curve.
Claudia Schiffer and Naomi Campbell have gushed Bündchen is the only remaining true supermodel. Along with being a UN goodwill ambassador, actress (her credits include Taxi and The Devil Wears Prada) and mum of two, Bündchen was named by Forbes as the world’s highest-paid model – she’s worth around £240million.
Bündchen has overachieved on such an irritatingly high scale no-one can argue she deserves to retire at 35 from her main job of stalking catwalks.
It’s not only that men want to be with Bündchen – her beauty gets under the skin of almost every woman. In 2007, a media shitstorm met her remarks that upbringing and not factors such as the fashion industry were responsible for causing eating disorders. She has also defended her beauty by saying, “Excuse me – there are people born with the right genes for this profession.”
To mark quitting catwalks, Bündchen is releasing a limited edition collector’s book full of images that define the highlights of her career. It contains 300 pictures hand-picked by Bündchen, including personal snaps, nude shoots and rare bondage poses.
We’ve gathered a sample here, but to glimpse more of the images will cost you – the book is £450.
Bündchen’s American football player husband Tom Brady says despite the price tag it’s “a bargain”.
Judge for yourself.
Here’s how to make an entrance. This is Bündchen’s first cover shoot for Vogue from 1998, and the cover of her new tome. The shot shows her posing naked for photographer Steven Meisel, who specialised in capturing the endless beauty of Bündchen’s legs, among her other assets. It remains possibly the most iconic photo of ‘the supermodel’s supermodel’.
Despite her era-defining Vogue debut, Bündchen initially struggled to make the transformation from mere model to supermodel. Mario Testino is credited with helping her make the step up. Testino used her in shoots at every opportunity, until fashion brands accepted the obvious: Bündchen was uniquely gorgeous. Testino said, “Nobody liked Gisele. Nobody wanted her. I had to fight to get her into my stories. Everyone said she was too this or too that, and nobody thought she was right.”
Leonardo DiCaprio was among those who thought she was right. If gossip rags are to be believed, Bündchen’s relationship with the actor from 2000 to 2005 was stormy. The tabloids had her both engaged and pregnant with DiCaprio’s baby at one point. There were tales Bündchen was unable to marry DiCaprio as her Victoria’s Secret contract was said to forbid marriage. Apparently the couple also once had an emergency consultation in the rainforest with a “sexual healer” to sort out their rumoured bedroom issues.
Juergen Teller’s 2005 photo of Bündchen for W magazine shows the Brazilian swooning with a bunch of roses next to her lady garden. Bündchen started dating now-husband Tom Brady the year the shot was taken. She said when she first saw a photo of the New England Patriots quarterback, she told a pal he was “none too shabby”.
Six years after her first Vogue cover shoot, Bündchen said she would never do another nude picture set. She was wrong. This image is part of a Fifty Shades-esque photoshoot from one of Bündchen’s most recent naked sessions in front of the lens. It was for the Turkish/Welsh duo Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, aka Mert & Marcus, and appeared in last year’s French fashion mag Lui.
The first time Bündchen worked with Mert & Marcus was for the 2006 Pirelli calendar, in an unusually hardcore shoot for Bündchen that showed her in leather lingerie. Alas has said he and Piggot stand out among photographers because they care about their subjects’ make-up and appearance (though there is little of either displayed in this shot.)
Each copy of Gisele, published on November 16, is signed by the goddess herself and is available from taschen.com priced £450.