Candice Swanepoel at the Victoria’s Secret Swim launch
Where’s your favorite place to go for a swim?
Brazil, I’m totally obsessed. I’ve been going since I was 17, and the first time I went, I fell in love with it. Just the energy, and I feel alive when I go down there. But I also love to go to St. Barts to shoot Victoria’s Secret Swim. The water is so still and amazing, and there’s a great energy there, too.
Where in Brazil do you like to go?
We try to go to the north, to Bahia, and we travel around there, have a Jeep there. We do some road trips, and we stay in one little town and the next day go somewhere else. I like to stay in the north because there’s a big African influence there, and it kind of makes me feel at home.
How do you get yourself bikini-ready?
I’m usually bikini-ready all year round. I try to train as much as I can, as much as my schedule allows it. Sometimes I’m too tired after work, so I try to work out in the morning. Usually like three or four times a week. Or, even if I do 15 minutes of running on the treadmill or yoga at home. You know? Just something to keep it up. If I’m on holiday, I’m active on the beach, I play tennis, I run, I swim a lot. It’s just about making the workouts fun, I think, and then it doesn’t really feel that bad.
Any vacation plans, since summer’s coming up?
Not yet. I usually go to Brazil — I have a place there, so it’s just a no-brainer to go and relax down there. But this year I want to go to a couple of new places: I want to try Thailand, I want to go to Jamaica. We go to Tulum, I don’t know if you’ve ever been there, it’s amazing. It kind of has that Brazil feeling, that very rustic feeling on the beach. I actually stayed in this place last time we went there, it’s kind of a hippie place, no electricity, nothing. You’re just in this hut on the front of the beach. It’s called Uno. After being in New York so much, you really have to go back to basics and teach yourself to relax: No electronics. The first couple of days, you’re like, ‘What should we do? What should we do?’ And then after you learn how to relax again.
You’ve been working with Victoria’s Secret for five years now. Do you anticipate working with them for another five?
Hopefully, if they’ll have me. It’s gone so fast already. I remember going to the casting for the show [in 2007] and being so nervous because I wanted it so badly. And then once I was at the show — I took my mom with me, flew her from South Africa — I saw that kind of family vibe that they had. I’d been traveling alone for so long, and when I saw that, I said to my mom, ‘I want this so badly, I just want to be a part of something.’ Not just being alone in the fashion industry. And then I started working for the catalog … It’s kind of been like that throughout my career, where I’ve set those goals and been like, ‘Okay, all I want now is to shoot the catalog.’ And then I do that, and then I kind of move up that way.
Swanepoel on the runway at Victoria's Secret's 2011 fashion show
So what’s your next goal?
You know, I’ve been thinking about maybe doing a line for Victoria’s Secret Swim. It’s in the pipeline. I’ve always been obsessed with swim, so maybe in the future I can do my own take on the whole thing.
Any specific vision yet?
There’s a couple of ideas that I like. It’s inspired by Brazil — how small [the bikinis] are … the backs are just so much more flattering. I love that small triangle … all the colors … there’s so much you can do with swimwear.
There are three Angels pregnant right now! Could you ever see yourself having a family and modeling at the same time?
I mean, it’s difficult. I have a dog and it’s like, wow. I think about the girls taking care of their business and their children and everything. It’s a lot. But you make it work, and at a certain point you long for your own family, something more than just work. So yeah, I do think about it. But I still have a lot more to do. I’m only 23.
A relationship is like another job, you know, you have to work at it all the time. And so many years together, you have to freshen things up and try new things, but we travel to new places and make it exciting. Traveling a lot makes it exciting, too, because I go away for a week and we miss each other, so that has helped our relationship a lot. If it’s more than a month away, then it starts getting difficult, so I made the decision when I was young that it would never be more than a month apart. You make sacrifices, but we’ve grown up together. He’s seen so many different versions of me that it’s crazy. When I met him, I was just this little South African farm girl with brown hair, and he probably is like, ‘Wow, I never would have expected you to turn into a Victoria’s Secret model.’
Would you ever go back to being brunette?
I do think about going brunette again, just because it would be different since my face has changed so much since those years — I had a rounder face. But I’m definitely a blonde at heart. It suits my personality more.
How has the modeling industry changed since you started?
It changes all the time. I kind of left it for a while, since I was focusing on Victoria’s Secret and I was so happy in that family. Then I started editorial again … it’s so many new girls and new faces that I don’t know. But it is changing … it went through all the Russian girls, then all the Brazilian girls … but I think that people are looking for faces that they know now. There was that period with girls nobody knows doing a bunch of things and then disappearing. But I think it’s time for girls that the public knows, that they can relate to. That’s why I love Victoria’s Secret — we get to show our personality, say what we feel about the products, and the public knows us. So yeah, hopefully it’ll go back to the ‘90s. I wish I had modeled back in that day.
From left: Jason Wu's fall 2012; Carolina Herrera's fall 2012
You did a handful of New York shows this season, and then were missed in Milan and Paris.
Yeah, you know, it’s been really hard to balance my contract days and editorial. Basically, I fit in whatever I can when I have days off from Victoria’s Secret, because that’s my first priority. So yeah, I had time during the New York shows, but I was shooting during Paris. I went to shoot in Paris for two days and then I had to leave. But I did that last season as well. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. I flew to Bora Bora from Paris last year — it was one of the longest trips of my life — and then I flew back to Paris. So it’s a bit of a scramble to fit it all in, but I love doing both equally, so I try to make it work.
I loved the recent campaign you did with Prabal Gurung.
He’s one of the sweetest men you’ll ever meet, just so down to earth. I felt a connection with him — the way he treats the girls and everything, it’s really admirable. You know, you go to these castings and people treat the models differently at different places; he was just so welcoming to me. That shoot that we did with the dark hair was amazing. When it came out, I was like, ‘Ahhhh.’ I didn’t realize it was going to be such a talked-about thing.
An image from Prabal Gurung's spring 2012 campaign
And your poses!
My neck, after that shoot, I needed like a neck brace because I was twisting myself. Thank God I did ballet because I never would have gotten through that shoot!
Any celebrity crushes?
Maybe. [Laughs] I won’t say names, but I enjoy watching True Blood, and I enjoy … what’s the guy in Country Strong? He’s cute. The cowboy?
Yeah. I didn’t say any names. [Laughs]
Any guilty pleasures?
Sleep. It’s like, any moment I can, I love to just get into my bed, put that electric blanket on, and just cozy up to my Jack Russell.
What was the last thing you bought?
It actually was this chain I bought in Dallas, where we just did the last Very Sexy launch. Actually, on my way to London — I was shooting in London — my jewelry got stolen out of my bag. So much beautiful jewelry, it’s torturing me right now. My pieces that I’ve collected … I’m crazy about jewelry, swimwear and jewelry. So yeah, I’m trying to get my collection back together.
What are you up to the rest of the day?
I’m going to catch up with some of my friends that I haven’t seen in a while; it’s so hard when you’re traveling so much to see your friends. We’re just hanging out, [we’ll] have lunch at one of our favorite spots maybe. I love being around the East Village, riding my bike around there. I’ll take this dress off, get into some Daisy Dukes, take my doggie for a walk, relax.
Candice Swanepoel on the cover of British GQ
And lastly: anything upcoming you’re excited about?
I just did a couple of really exciting shoots, I can’t say because you never know if they’ll come out — I’m so afraid of that, you say it and then... I just saw this morning the GQ cover I did, I’ve been waiting for that. But yeah, this shoot I did in London is really exciting. You’ll see.
Photos: Runway: Fairchild Archive.