HFM talks exclusively to Isabeli Fontana - the Brazilian supermodel who’s been named one of the world’s top-earning models by Forbes, has walked for Victoria’s Secret countless times, been a Pirelli calendar regular and worked for every big name designer in her two-decade career, including Chanel, Versace and Armani.
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The 35-year-old Brazilian was discovered at a talent competition in aged 13. “It was my neighbour who suggested it to my mum, who applied for me,” she told us. The following year she and her mum (“she’s always been with me”) moved from their small rural village of Curitiba, southern Brazil to Milan, in pursuit of her modelling career.
She was soon flown to New York for the city’s fashion week. “I did every show possible from Calvin Klein to Oscar de la Renta. I was 15, but my first big show was Versace and I was really excited to be doing it. I enjoyed doing the shows, it was major for me - I loved the makeup tests, because obviously, I was a girl.”
A turning point was when she became the youngest Victoria’s Secret catalogue model, aged 16 – that’s when things really took off. Partly because of her age, especially as the brand had previously stated they would never use girls younger than 18 in the campaign.
“It totally surprised me, I didn’t have any idea what this would cause. I didn’t know how to be sexy at the time and they actually pushed me to go the other way, to be more innocent.”
Following the release of the catalogue, she was booked to appear in lucrative campaigns for Versace, Ralph Lauren and Valentino.
Of course, one prerequisite of being a Brazilian model is great hair, flawless skin, and a banging body. Admitting she has to “work at it” the ageless model also talks about the secrets to her youthful appearance.
To read the interview and pick up the July/August edition of Hello! Fashion Monthly, out now…