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modeling & talent ● modeling By Eve Matheson Follow in Legendary Footsteps If you want to become a superstar in the modeling industry, look no further than Gisele Bündchen for inspiration, motivation, and the guts to keep trying W hen a 5’ll”, blue-eyed 14-year-old walked down a runway in São Paulo, Brazil, 20 years ago, she could never have imagined in her wildest dreams what the future had in store for her. Perhaps her mother, Vanica, had a previous inkling of her daughter’s potential when she in- sisted she take a modeling course with two of her five sis- ters. But no one could have foreseen that this young girl would become the most famous and highest paid model in history, tipped to become the world’s first billionaire model. Her name? Gisele Bündchen. Born and raised in Horizontina, a southern region of Brazil, Gisele was discovered by a scout from the famous Elite model agency at a shopping mall in São Paulo, during a school field trip. As a result, she took part and placed sec- ond in the Elite Look of the Year, a national competition. This enabled her to participate in the Elite Model Look world contest in Ibiza, Spain, in which she was placed fourth. In spite of these two prestigious career launching pads and her success in them, Gisele’s career did not take off as quickly as one might have expected. According to iconic photographer Mario Testino, no one was interested in her in the beginning. He maintains that he convinced the fashion world to love Gisele Bündchen. “Nobody liked her, nobody wanted her. Nobody thought she was right— she was too this, too that, the nose, the breasts,” he is quot- ed as saying. But Mario’s faith in her was unwavering to the point of obsession, he admits. His inimitable eye for talent 50 PAGEANTRY GISELE BÜNDCHEN 1998 and his determination paid off. In 1996, Gisele made her runway debut during New York Fashion Week. A year later she went to London and auditioned for 42 shows. It was not until 1998 that she got her big break when the late, great, fearless designer Alexan- der McQueen, who championed the unusual, booked her for his spring “rain” ready-to-wear collection, mainly be- cause she could walk in towering heels on a slippery run- way! That was the beginning. The shows, fashion magazine shoots, extremely lucrative campaigns, endorsements, and an acting career followed as did her many and varied phil- anthropic activities all over the world. I have highlighted some of Gisele’s achievements, and for the benefit of girls on the cusp of their careers—and their parents—have focused on those which illustrate her struggle and setbacks in the early days. Rejection is always devastating and can destroy self-esteem and promising ca- reers. Learn from Gisele. Be patient, believe in yourself, and never give up. She was determined to break into interna- tional runway modeling at a time when all models had to be reed thin and unhealthy looking. She broke through that barrier without compromising her health and is, in fact, credited with ending the “heroin chic” era and bringing back the healthy, sexy model. Gisele came to understand the desolation of defeat when she shared her husband and New England Patriots quar-