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MEET CANDICE SWANEPOEL
on a dreary almost-winter evening in Manhattan, at the downtown studio where she’s wrapping up a shoot for a spring issue of the Victoria’s Secret catalog. I watch the last “look,” for which she perches on a prop bed in the
middle of a concrete studio field with various funy looking items (furry pillows, pastel ottomans, etc.) and models an electric yellow bra-and-panty set. She rolls into dozens of bed-appropriate poses, one after the next, camera fashing. In action, she’s extraordinary—professional and focused, all busi- ness, killing each shot. A dozen people right out of fashion-shoot central casting, all wearing shades of black or gray, stand by watching every move.
When the shoot ends, Swanepoel changes into civilian clothes (a loose, long-sleeve white-cotton T-shirt, tight blue jeans with gaping holes in the knees, black Nikes) and we chat for a while on a couch nearby. Later that night she is meeting up with other Angels to watch the annual Victo- ria’s Secret Fashion Show prime-time broadcast on CBS: “We all watch it together and scream,” she says, conjuring an image out of a million male fantasies. “We eat popcorn and laugh at ourselves.”
I wouldn’t say she’s more beautiful in person than she is in her pic- tures, but it’s a diferent kind of beautiful—a more natural, warmer, less cartoonish beautiful. She has faint and lovely crinkles in the corners of her eyes when she smiles, which is often. When I told my mom that I’d be in- terviewing Candice, she e-mailed back: “That supermodel looks warmer than most—she has a great smile.” It’s true.
When you look at thousands of Candice photos, you see lots of difer- ent people in her. She has that chameleonlike quality common to great models. From some angles, she can look like a young Cameron Diaz, from others, Uma Thurman. But after a while, the things that consistently leap out are that friendly-but-dazzling smile and her near-supernatural hip-to- waist ratio. She’s the kind of girl I’d probably fantasize about sufocating at a middle school slumber party (just kidding!), although she probably wouldn’t have ever been there to begin with—or at least not for long.
After growing up on a beef and dairy farm in the small South African village of Mooi River, she was scouted at age 15 at a fea market, plucked from her all-girls boarding school, and within two years was modeling throughout Europe and living in New York. Now even if you don’t know the name, you know the face and the body. She’s been on tons of maga- zine covers and starred in campaigns for Oscar de la Renta and Versace. But she’s best known as one of the most prolifc Victoria’s Secret brand ambassadors. She also happens to be the reigning Number One on this magazine’s annual Hot 100.
I ask her if she sometimes feels older than her age. (She’s 26.)
“Yes!” she says. “I defnitely do. In one way I feel much older, because I’ve had to deal with a lot more responsibility and a career and money at an early age. But at the same time, there’s still a 15-year-old girl in me, one who doesn’t even have a driver’s license.” She laughs.
She became an “Angel”—inducted into the elite secret society of VS
most unexpected places. Bianca Santos was a senior at a tiny West Coast college studying psychology, eyeing a career far from the limelight, as a therapist, when a chance encounter with one of the gods of her chosen field
changed her path forever. World-renowned psychologist Albert Bandura—“the Sigmund Freud of this generation,”
Santos calls him—came to her school to lecture. “I got to sit near him during a lunch. So I asked him, ‘What’s the one piece of advice you could impart to us?’ I was on the edge of my seat, ready for him to change my world.” And did he? “Yes! He said, ‘You regret in life the things you didn’t do.’ It was in that moment when I thought, I’m going to act. Like, what do I have to lose?”