Kate's Notes

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Gisele Bündchen

Gisele Bündchen

Gisele Caroline Nonnenmacher Bündchen (born July 20, 1980) is internationally known as the leggy Brazilian supermodel, who has graced the pages of tens of magazines, including the coveted Victoria's Sectret, been the face of all of the iconic fashion campaigns, walked down the runways of the most coveted of haut-couture fashion shows, and was ranked the highest-paid model in the world in the mid-2000s.

Since her inception into the world of fashion in the mid-1990s, she has also appeared on countless billboards, as well as numerous television and print ads, and in a few notable movie roles, such as Taxi with Queen Latifah and Jimmy Fallon, and The Devil Wears Prada with Anne Hathaway and Meryle Streep. Gisele is currently the face of more than 20 brands from different countries such as United States, Brazil, Italy, France, Mexico, Spain, Turkey, Korea, Germany and Switzerland; and according to Forbes, Gisele earned $30 million between June of 2005 and June of 2006.

She also appears in Guinness Book of World Records as the "world's richest supermodel," with a net worth of $150 million.

Early Life and Career

Born in the southern Brazilian town of Três de Maio in Horizontina, Rio Grande do Sul, to Valdir and Vânia Bündchen, both of German descent, Gisele is one of five sisters - Raquel, Graziela, Gabriela, Rafaela and her fraternal twin Patrícia (Gisele's junior by five minutes). Her name is actually pronounced "Giseli" (The e at the and of her name is not silent); however, she accepted Gisele because people would often mispronounce is and she has said that it does not matter to her either way.

When she was in school, Gisele was so thin that her friends used to call her "Olívia Palito" (Portuguese for Olive Oyl, Popeye's skinny girlfriend), and "Saracura" (a type of Brazilian shorebird). In 1993, a then-13-year-old Gisele joined a modeling course with her sisters Patrícia and Gabriela at her mother's insistence. The course, instructed by Dilson Stein, was designed for teenagers aspiring to become models. However, initially, Gisele wanted to be a professional volleyball player and considered playing for the Brazilian team, Sogipa; but that dream was put on hold when she was discovered.

Modeling Career: The Beginning

The Cinderella story of Gisele’s “discovery” has been told over and over again: she was found by a modeling agent at the age fourteen, while ironically eating a Big Mac at a local McDonald's.

The following year, Stein, her instructor, took Gisele, along with some other girls to São Paulo to give them an opportunity to walk in a big city and to be evaluated by Brazilian Elite Modeling agents. She was subsequently selected for a national contest, "Elite Look of the Year": she placed second; the winner was Claudia Menezes, from Bahia. Later, Gisele placed fourth in the international contest, held in Ibiza, Spain. In 1996, when Gisele was just 16 and not very familiar with the English language, moved to New York City to begin her modeling career, which debuted at Fashion Week.

After winning the prestigious VH1/Vogue Model of the Year award in 1999, she co-hosted the ceremony with Cuba Gooding, Jr. the next year, in 2000. Vogue bestowed upon her the honor of "model of the millennium," and referred to her as the "return of the sexy model.” The photo Vogue ran was heavily photo-shopped to enlarge her naturally small breasts, and many readers complained. In 2000, she was the fourth model in history to grace the cover of Rolling Stone; the issue gave Gisele the moniker of "the most beautiful girl in the world.”

Gisele has been the face in almost all the top designers advertising campaigns including several seasons of Christian Dior, Balenciaga, Dolce & Gabbana, Missoni, Versace, Céline, Givenchy, Bvlgari, Lanvin, Guerlain, Valentino, Ralph Lauren, Earl Jean, Zara, Chloé, Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton, and Victoria's Secret. Bündchen is also the face of several Brazilian brands like Vivo, Brazil's leading mobile company, Multiplan, Colcci and Credicard. After C&A Brazil hired her and started their television commercials, sales increased by 30%.

In May of 2006, Gisele signed another multi-million dollar deal, this time with the mogul, Apple Computer. She starred in an advertising campaign to promote the new Macintosh line through the “Get a Mac” advertisements.

She has her own line of sandals with shoes company Grendene, called Ipanema Gisele Bündchen, which have sold more than 100 million pairs since 2001. She is also the owner of a hotel in the south of Brazil, the Palladium Executive.

Gisele consistently works with photographers, like Mario Testino, Steven Meisel, Nick Knight, Mert and Marcus, Rankin, Annie Leibovitz, Karl Lagerfeld, Peter Lindbergh, Mario Sorrenti and Patrick Demarchelier, among others.

Gisele has also been on the covers of most of the main fashion magazines around the globe like, W, Harper's Bazaar, ELLE, Allure and many international editions of Vogue, as well as style and lifestyle publications like i-D, The Face, Arena, Citizen K, Flair, GQ, Esquire and Marie Claire. She has also been featured in broader market publications such as Time, Vanity Fair, Forbes, Newsweek, and Veja.

She has also walked the Victoria's Secret runway, along with Rebecca Pincolini, Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks, Adriana Lima, and countless other beautiful "angels.” She was also seen in Victoria's Secret commercials and ad campaigns, and Victoria's Secret Magazine.

After Gisele carried one bag made by British designer Luella Bartley on the catwalk, all the papers ran pictures of her with it, and this created a phenomenon. The company thought they might sell a few, but suddenly they had waiting-lists everywhere for what was already being called the "Gisele." The success of the Gisele bag propelled Luella into the highly lucrative accessories market.

Recognition and Ranking

Gisele holds such a slew of places on the worlds “Top Lists” that it had to be given its own category.

2001 - 2003

She was ranked #34 in Stuff's 100 Sexiest Women in 2001. She was also featured as #6 in Maxim magazine's "Hot 100 of 2002,” #7 On E! Channel's "Countdown of the Sexiest Women in Entertainment in 2002."

In 2003, She was given the #7 spot On E! Channel's "Countdown of the Best Bodies in Hollywood," and #2 on "Access Hollywood's" list of It Girls.

2005 – 2007: The List Only Grows Longer

She was ranked #36 on VH1's "100 Hottest Hotties,” #65 in FHM's "100 Sexiest Women in the World 2005," #19 in British Harpers & Queen's 100 Most Beautiful Women of the Year, #26 in FHM-Germany's 100 Sexiest Women, #1 On Forbes magazine list of the World's Most Entrepreneurial Supermodels, and , #1 On VH1 countdown of "Today's Hottest Supermodels."

In 2006, she came up as #21 on E! Television's "101 Hottest Bodies in Hollywood," named #83 in FHM magazine's "100 Sexiest Women in the World 2006," #1 on E! Channel's "Countdown of the World's Sexiest Supermodels," and #1 Model Citizen by Maxim magazine. In addition, she was named by Rolling Stone magazine as the biggest Brazilian popstar of all times.

On the business end of things, Gisele was ranked at #71 on Forbes magazine list of the 100 Most Powerful celebrities in the world, with earnings of 30 million dollars between June of 2005 and June of 2006. According to Forbes, "She's also a workhorse with 20 fashion contracts, including Ebel watches, Vogue Eyewear and Dolce & Gabbana. That's far more than any other model anywhere in the world. Her assets earned her more last year that many of the highest-paid actors on the Forbes Celebrity 100.”

2007 is not even over, and she’s already been ranked at number 16 on Forbes magazine list with the 20 richest women on entertainment, and Ranked #14 on Askmen.com's Most Desirable Women.

Acting Career

Regarding a film career, Bündchen has said "I think it would be interesting," but counters "I'm young and I like what I do for now and I understand that everything in life happens for the moment."

In the 2004, she made her debut in film in the comedy Taxi, alongside Queen Latifah and Jimmy Fallon. She also made a notable appearance in the well-received 2006 comedy, The Devil Wears Prada with Anne Hathaway and Meryle Streep.

Personal Life

When she is not working or traveling the world, Gisele enjoys spending time with her family, friends and her dog Vida (meaning "life" in Portuguese), a Yorkshire Terrier. Her first boyfriend in the United States was model Scott Barnhill, but they dated for only six months. After Scott she was also linked with hotel tycoon Vikram Chatwal and Josh Hartnett, but she never confirmed the rumors about these two.

Gisele’s gained a lot more noteriety in Hollywood, when she embarked on her famous romance, and on/off relationship with A-list actor, Leonardo DiCaprio. They met in 2000 during a fashion party in Los Angeles. The next day DiCaprio sent flowers to Gisele and invited her to dinner, but she refused. A month later he finally had the opportunity to take her on a date, but their first public appearance did not occur until sometime later in 2005 at the 77th Annual Academy Awards. Subsequently, they separated in November 2005.

After her extremely high-profile relationship with DiCaprio, Gisele began dating internationally known professional surfer, Kelly Slater soon after her breakup with DiCaprio, but the two broke up shortly after they got together, and by July 2006 they were done as a couple. Then Gisele was briefly linked to actor Chris Evans of Fantastic Four fame, before she started to date New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady before Christmas of 2006. The couple was first seen in public in NYC on late January, and in February of 2007, Gisele was seen with Brady in Paris, kissing in a cafe.

Portuguese is Bündchen's native language and she uses English as her second language; however, even though her English is still slightly limited, she is said to be one of late-night talk show host, Jay Leno's, favorite guests.


Gisele’s rise to fame has not come without controversy. Like Heidi Klum and several other models, she moved from her original agency Elite Model Management to IMG. John Casablancas, head of Elite, accused Gisele of being a marijuana smoker who slept her way to the top (though he has now stated that he was misquoted). Casablancas also filed a $15 million lawsuit against her for dropping out of his agency.

In 2002, during the taping of the annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, Gisele was the target of a protest made by four members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals because she was signed to be the new face of Blackglama, a fur designing company. When Gisele was on the stage, four women jumped into the runway holding posters that read "Gisele: Fur Scum" and included the logo for PETA. Gisele tried to ignore them while several security guards detained the protesters. After the incident, the producers decided to stop the music and redid Gisele’s segment after the protesters were removed.

Charity Work and Activism

Gisele designed a limited edition necklace sold to raise money for St. Jude Children's Hospital cancer treatment efforts.

She will also be the face of a new campaign to protect the Amazon's Xingu River from deforestation and pollution. The campaign is called "Y Ikatu Xingu", wich means "clean and good Xingu water", in the native Kamaiura language. Gisele wants "to tell the world that the Amazon's waters are in danger". The Xingu River extends about 1,700 miles through the southern Amazon, including Brazil's first indian reservation, the 2.8 million-hectare (6.92 million-acre) Xingu National Park. The region was visited by her and ex-boyfriend, Leonardo DiCaprio in 2004.

In 2006, Gisele became the new face of the American Express RED campaign. She will star in the next high profile campaign with Keseme Ole Parsapet, a Maasai warrior from Kenya. The RED initiative was launched by U2 front man Bono and Robert Shriver Chairman Of Debt, Trade Africa. Consumers can help make an ethical impact in the fight against HIV and AIDS in Africa. Vogue online reported that Gisele, who was photographed by Nick Knight, said RED is an amazing project.


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