Childhood & Early Life
Gisele Bundchen was born on July 20, 1980, in the Brazilian town of Tres de Maio, Rio Grande do Sul, to German immigrants Valdir Bundchen, a university teacher, and Vania Nonnenmacher, bank cashier. She was raised in Horizontina.
At 14, she was spotted by an Elite modeling scout in Sao Paulo on a school trip, after which she participated in the ‘Elite Look of the Year’ contest and finished second.
She contested in the ‘Elite Model Look’ world competition, in Ibiza, Spain. She was placed fourth and went to Sao Paulo to pursue a career in modeling.
Continue Reading Below
She traveled to New York in 1996 and debuted on the runway at New York Fashion Week.
Her high-fashion break came in 1997 when she walked for Alexander McQueen’s Spring 1998 ‘Rain’ ready-to-wear show in London, christened as ‘The Body’.
In 1998, she debuted on British Vogue’s cover and became the most sought-after model, bringing an end to Kate Moss’s ‘heroin chic’ era and re-establishing the ‘sexy model’ period.
She shot ad campaigns for fashion labels, such as Valentino, Ralph Lauren, Missoni, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Chloe, and Gianfranco Ferre.
In 1999, she graced the cover of French Vogue under the name ‘The Return of the Sexy Model’ and featured on the cover of i-D titled ‘A Girl Called Gisele’.
After Rolling Stone named her ‘The Most Beautiful Girl in the World’ in 2000, her career skyrocketed, letting her open shows for Christian Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Michael Kors, Valentino, and Marc Jacobs.
She ventured into acting with the 2004 film ‘Taxi’, directed by Tim Story, playing the leader of a bank robbers’ gang. In 2006, she did a cameo role in the icon fashion film ‘The Devil Wears Prada’.
She ended her contract with Victoria’s Secret in 2007, on the pretext of concentrating on other projects and denying rumors of payment disagreements.
She designs jelly sandals for Brazilian shoemaker, Grendene, and runs her own line of lingerie – Gisele Bundchen Intimates, flip-flops – Ipanema Gisele Bundchen, and cosmetic range – Sejaa Pure Skincare.
Continue Reading Below
She has appeared on covers and in editorials of world’s leading fashion magazines including Vogue, Sunday Times Style, i-D, GQ, Elle, Numero, Remix, Marie Claire, Glamour, Vanidades, Woman Arabia, & Vanity Fair.
She is the face of countless high-end fashion brands, like Chanel, Nivea, H&M, Carolina Herrera, David Yurman, Versace, Christian Dior, HOPE, Dolce & Gabbana, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Ralph Lauren.
She became an international sensation when she signed a $25 million contract with the lingerie company, Victoria’s Secret, in 2000 which upgraded her status from a model to a supermodel.
She sported the costliest fantasy bra - ‘Red Hot Fantasy Bra’, costing $15 million, and second most expensive fantasy bra – ‘Sexy Splendor Fantasy Bra’, worth $12.5 million, at Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, in 2000 and 2005, respectively.
She topped Forbes’ ‘highest-paid models’ list by earning a staggering $47 million in 2014, surpassing Miranda Kerr and Kate Moss by millions of dollars.
By featuring on the covers of over 600 worldwide fashion magazines and style and lifestyle publications, she seconds the late Princess Diana for the largest number of magazine cover appearances in the world.
Awards & Achievements
She was listed at #21 on ‘Hottest Celebrity Bodies’ by E! Television, in 2006.
In 2008, she was ranked as the fourth most powerful person in the fashion world by New York Daily News.
Continue Reading Below
She was rated among the ‘top 26 greatest models of all time’ by Harper’s Bazaar, in 2009.
She was placed among the ‘Top Accomplished Women Entertainers’ by CEOWORLD magazine, in 2011.
In 2011, she was listed at #45 and #95 on the ‘100 Sexiest Women in the World’ by FHM and FHM Australia, respectively.
Men’s Health listed her at number 25 on the ‘100 Hottest Women of All Time’, in 2011.
In 2012, Forbes ranked her at #61 on the ‘Most Powerful Celebrities’ and #4 on ‘World’s Most Powerful Latino Celebrity’.
Time added her on the All-TIME 100 Fashion Icons list of ‘100 Most Influential Fashion Icons since 1923’.
In 2014, she was listed at #89 on Forbes’ ‘Most Powerful Women in the World’ and at #5 on Forbes Brazil’s ‘25 Biggest Celebrities in Brazil’.
Personal Life & Legacy
She started dating Hollywood superstar Leonardo DiCaprio in 2000. Their high-profile on-and-off relationship ended in 2005, without citing any reasons for the break-up.
In 2006, she met Tom Brady, New England Patriots quarterback, and married him in February 2009, in a twilight ceremony at St. Monica Catholic Church, in Santa Monica.
The couple has two children – son Benjamin Rein Bundchen Brady (2009) and daughter Vivian Lake Bundchen Brady (2012), apart from Brady’s son, John Edward Thomas, from his previous relationship with Bridget Moynahan.
In 2008, her black-and-white photo, shot by Irving Penn, was auctioned and sold for US$193,000, fetching the highest price among dozens of images exhibited at Christie’s International, New York.
She is the owner of ‘Palladium Executive Flat’ hotel in Rio Grande do Sul, $2 million home in Brentwood, California, land in Trancoso, Brazil, and townhouse in West village.
In 2008, she launched Projeto Agua Limpa (Clean Water Project) – a water conservation and plant recovery effort, in her hometown Horizontina.
This high cheek-boned supermodel became the Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2009.
She is associated with various charities and causes. She has donated largely to Zero Hunger Program, Product Red initiative, Japanese Red Cross Society, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and ISA – the Socio-environmental Institute.