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Gisele Bündchen has opened up about one of the ‘most traumatizing moments’ of her career, recalling how she was reduced to tears at an Alexander McQueen fashion show in 1998 when she saw the incredibly skimpy, breast-baring outfit she had to model on the catwalk.
The now-41-year-old mother-of-two was just 18 when she made her debut at London Fashion Week in the late nineties, an experience that she now admits is one of the darker memories from her decades-long career.
Speaking about the runway appearance in a new video for British Vogue, Gisele – who is married to NFL superstar Tom Brady – shared her feelings of desolation at seeing the look that she was being expected to rock on the catwalk.
‘This was one of the most traumatizing moments,’ Gisele recalled, adding: ‘I didn’t have a fitting so when I showed up at the show, I was like, “So what am I wearing?”
‘I could say a few words [in English at the time] but I didn’t understand half the things, [so] I just pretended I understood. I had no clue.
‘And I was like, “Is it a T-shirt or something?” No, it was this. So I started crying.’
Gisele Bündchen opened up about one of the ‘most traumatizing moments’ of her career while discussing her ‘life in looks’ for a new British Vogue video
The now-41-year-old model recalled bursting into tears backstage at her first major runway show for Alexander McQueen in 1998 at age 18 when she was shown the breast-baring outfit she was expected to wear on the catwalk (pictured)
According to Gisele, her emotional outburst was not only upsetting to her however – but also the makeup artist, who begged her to stop crying lest she ruin the work they had done on her face.
‘I had these feathers attached to my lashes so as I was crying they were ungluing and the makeup artist was like, “Please don’t cry!”‘ she recalled. ‘I was walking the whole time thinking, “I hope my dad doesn’t ever see this picture.”
As well as the skimpy silver outfit, Gisele was also told she would have to model topless – another moment that reduced her to tears, until a makeup artist offered to paint her on a shirt to help conceal her breasts
‘That’s why I have the memory of this show.’
However, the model insists she has chalked the ‘traumatizing’ experience up to a learning opportunity, adding: ‘ All I wanted to do was leave but, you know, it’s one of those things that makes you stronger.’
Gisele also shared her shock at earning a spot in the runway lineup, explaining that she went to dozens of castings ahead of London Fashion Week, only for designers and their staff to refuse to look at her book, simply because she didn’t fit into the ‘heroin chic’ aesthetic that was so popular at the time.
‘I didn’t speak English, it was my first show season in London, I did 42 castings,’ she said. ‘I remember going to all of these castings and nobody would even look at my book because it was the “heroin chic” time and I didn’t look anything like “heroin chic” obviously.
In her 2019 memoir, Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life, Gisele further detailed her horror at learning what she was going to have to wear for the show – which saw her modeling three different looks, including one that required her to be topless.
According to the model’s book, when she arrived at the show, she was fitted with a black wig and heavy eyeliner, and given three ‘looks’ she would be wearing.
Opening up about her early days as an international fashion star, the model recalled her shock at being cast in a show because she didn’t fit the then-popular ‘heroin chic’ aesthetic
Gisele also spoke out about her decision to sign a contract with Victoria’s Secret in 2000 (seen modeling a $15 million ruby bra that year), recalling fears that it would end her fashion career
The supermodel admitted that she grew increasingly ‘uncomfortable’ with showing off her rear end on the catwalk (seen in 2005) and began asking that her butt be covered up in shows
One of the ensembles had a fishtail skirt – but to her horror came with no accompanying shirt.
Thankfully, her makeup artist Val came to her rescue and painted on a shirt using white cosmetics in the hopes of making her feel slightly more comfortable.
‘Val told me how beautiful it looked and said that the runway was so dark nobody would know,’ she wrote. ‘If Val hadn’t shown up then, I seriously doubt I could have walked the runway.’
Elsewhere in her British Vogue video, Gisele – who became a household name after signing as a Victoria’s Secret Angel – also admitted that she grew concerned about how much of herself she was baring on the catwalk when modeling for the lingerie giant.
Sharing an image of herself walking in her final Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in 2005, the supermodel admitted that she had reached a point where she insisted her back be covered at all times because it made her so ‘uncomfortable’ having her ‘butt hanging out’ on the catwalk.
‘I always made sure that my back was covered because it just made me uncomfortable walking on a runway with my butt hanging out [with people] looking up [at me],’ she said.
‘I was like, that’s not going to happen. But I always had fun on the shows, it was always a production.’
In her memoir, the model once again broached the subject of modeling for the lingerie label, admitting that she grew more and more uneasy about the risque designs she had to wear as time went on.
‘For the first five years, I felt comfortable modeling in lingerie, but as time went on, I felt less and less at ease being photographed walking the runway wearing just a bikini or a thong,’ she wrote, according to the Independent.
‘Give me a tail, a cape, wings—please, anything to cover me up a little!’
As well as filming a video for British Vogue, the supermodel also spoke with the fashion publication for an interview to accompany her cover shoot for the latest issue, opening up about reaching ‘rock bottom’ at the height of her career, when she was gripped by anxiety and panic attacks for a year and a half.
As well as doing a YouTube interview with British Vogue, Gisele posed for a stunning cover shoot for the publication, which she spoke to about hitting ‘rock bottom’ in her early 20s
The model said that she was gripped by anxiety and panic attacks for a year and a half until she reached her breaking point and began seeking help from a naturopath
‘From the outside, it looked like I had everything and I was just 22 years old,’ she told British Vogue.
‘On the inside, I felt as if I’d hit rock bottom, I was starting my day with a mocha Frappuccino with whipped cream and three cigarettes, then drinking a bottle of wine every night. Imagine what that was doing to my mind…’
Gisele recalled how a friend recommended she seek help from a naturopath, who immediately prescribed an all-encompassing detox.
Removing sugar, grains, dairy, caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes from her lifestyle came with intense withdrawal symptoms, as the runway star explained.
‘I think those were the worst migraines I’ve ever had in my life. The doctor, he was French, would call me Adrenalina. I remember him saying, ‘Well, do you want to live?’ It was that simple.”
Three months later, Gisele’s debilitating symptoms were as good as gone, with the star rising at 5am daily to meditate and work out.
In her video interview for the magazine’s YouTube channel, the supermodel – who stars on the cover of this month’s issue – also opened up about the career-defining moment when she signed a contract with Victoria’s Secret in 2000, admitting that she hesitated to agree to it out of fear that it would ruin her chances of continuing her work in high fashion.
Gisele, who married NFL star Tom Brady in 2009, revealed that she wore barely any makeup on her wedding day, having arrived at the Santa Monica venue in jeans and a T-shirt
The couple (seen at the Met Gala in 2018) met in 2006 on a blind date
They have two kids: Benjamin, 12, and nine-year-old Vivian. Giselle is also stepmom to Tom’s teenage son, John, 14, (back left) from his previous relationship (pictured in February)
Ultimately, she opted to sign with the lingerie brand because of the enormous amount of money she was offered, revealing that it was the most money she has ever made in her career.
‘At that moment in 2000, you either did catalogs, or you did fashion, they really didn’t mix’ she recalled, while showing off an image of herself wearing a $15 million ruby-encrusted bra for the brand’s famous fashion show.
‘It’s like, if you did Vogue and if you did the shows, you didn’t really do catalogs. So when I signed the contract with them, I remember calling my agent and saying, “What are we going to do?” because they were offering me a lot of money.
‘I mean, it’s more money than I’ve made in entire career since I was 14 [and] working.
‘And I had to make a decision if I was going to do this contract. But at the same time, it was like, if I did this contract, maybe I would never do fashion again because it was this thing.
‘But I was, you know, 19 years old and I was like, I don’t know how much I’m going to last here. I’d been in the business since I was 14, I saw so many girls that were working and the next day you never saw them again.
‘So I was like, you know what, they’re paying me great, they’re paying me more money than I could ever imagine. So I think I’m going to say yes to it. But I have to take the risk.
‘So I signed it and… everything worked out!’