Self-described South African “farm girl”-turned blonde bombshell Candice Swanepoel walked her first Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in 2007, just when she was on the verge of quitting her modeling career. She’s been with the brand ever since, becoming an Angel in 2010. At the recent Victoria’s Secret Swim launch in New York — she covers this year’s catalog — we chatted with Swanepoel about celebrity crushes, all things VS, plus her other longstanding relationship — that with boyfriend Brazilian model Hermann Nicoli, who she met in Paris in 2006.
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.
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.