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Body of Work


Alessandra Ambrosio

As one of Victoria’s Secret’s longest-serving Angels, ALESSANDRA AMBROSIO knows the importance of having a positive outlook on her body. She shares her secrets with CELIA WALDEN as she models SS16’s athletic-inspired pieces

Photography David BellemereStyling Tracy Taylor
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WOMEN’S CURVES ARE THERE TO BE WORSHIPPED: “Growing up in Brazil, it’s the curves that I remember most. Brazilians don’t just appreciate curves, they worship them. It comes from that carnival culture, where women will parade around barely wearing a thing – just a tiny bikini, G-string or feathers. Every woman’s body is spectacular there, not because it’s perfect but because they’re loving life. It’s never been about having a Barbie-like physique in Brazil but having the right curves, whatever your proportions or size.”

I AM NOT A NATURAL-BORN FITNESS FREAK: “In my family, no one ever worked out. It wasn’t until I did my first Victoria’s Secret show that I started exercising. Even when I got pregnant with my daughter Anja, now seven and moved to California, I couldn’t understand this lifestyle my fiancé businessman Jamie Mazur had. For him, exercise was physical and mental at the same time; going to the gym was his friend, whereas it had always been an enemy for me. Now that it’s a healthy, normal part of my daily routine, my kids will grow up seeing it in the same way, and I love that.”

“Every woman’s body is spectacular in Brazil, not because it’s perfect but because they’re loving life”

Sweater Alexander Wang; shorts Lucas Hugh; bracelets throughout (worn in hair) Christopher Kane; earrings throughout Jennifer Fisher
Top Miu Miu; pants Fendi; sneakers MM6 Maison Margiela; headphones Frends

BOREDOM WILL KILL YOUR GYM MOTIVATION: “I’ve had the same trainer Leandro Carvalho since I was 24 because he keeps it fun. We’ll do a bit of samba and a bit of capoeira, mix in weights and really concentrate on the butt and abs. But what changed my attitude to fitness was finding all these classes that I really enjoyed doing. I do one called Pilates Platinum in LA once a week, which makes your abs and legs super-tight and toned, and I’m obsessed with the Bar Method, which I do three times a week and reminds me of the ballet classes I did for eight years as a kid. If I’m traveling, I’ll FaceTime my favorite yoga teacher, Louise Luz in Florianopolis, Brazil, and sometimes do a whole 90-minute virtual class with her.”

BECOMING A MOTHER CHANGED MY ATTITUDE: “I used to be 100% comfortable on lingerie shoots – then I had a child, and it was more of a mental shift than anything else. Somehow it felt a bit weirder to be in lingerie once I was a mum. Although I did that cover for Maxim last year naked but for a strategically placed newspaper, you don’t see anything. When my daughter saw it, she asked, ‘Mummy, why do you have no clothes on?’ And I said, ‘Mummy actually has a G-string on – it’s just so small you can’t see it.’”

MY BODY IS BETTER NOW THAN BEFORE I HAD KIDS: “Your body will never go back to exactly what it was before pregnancy, whatever people tell you. It can’t. But I think I have a better body now than before I had kids. It’s partly because I workout, whereas before I didn’t, but also to do with the shape – it just looks more formed now and I feel better about it than I did. Not that it was easy getting back into shape post-pregnancy: after having Anja I only had three months to lose all the weight before doing the 2008 Victoria’s Secret show and I was on this 1200-calorie-a-day meal-delivery service that I hated. I couldn’t do that again.”

Top Jacquemus; briefs T by Alexander Wang
Top Alexander Wang; bra T by Alexander Wang

DANCING IS THE BEST TONIC: “It’s so stressful before the Victoria’s Secret show. There’s so much pressure on us all – not just in terms of shape – and the energy gets sucked out of you, so my favorite thing to do afterwards is dance all night long. Yes, we’ll have a pizza party and drink, but I don’t even care that much about the food. It’s about being young, normal and carefree again.”

DEPRIVATION WILL ONLY MAKE YOU RESENTFUL: “I don’t cut out any food groups. I’m all about moderation and trying to eat something different every day. Obviously I try not to splurge on pasta, but if I’m back home in Brazil where everything is pasta- or bread-based – and so yummy – then I’ll eat whatever I want, then go back to lots of salads and chicken or fish with veggies as soon as I’m back in LA.”

“I used to be 100% comfortable on lingerie shoots. Then I had a child, and it felt a bit weirder

DON’T GET TRAPPED IN AN EMOTIONAL-EATING CYCLE: “I’ve been through that stage. It started when I first began making my own money at 15. I would go to the supermarket and fill my bag with cookies, ice cream and yoghurt: everything sweet you can imagine. And there were times in my life when I would eat a whole packet of cookies. But then I taught myself not to do that – basically by reminding myself how horrible it felt the last time. Oh, and of course I would lose my job, so that was another incentive.”

Jacket 3.1 Phillip Lim; swimsuit Prism; sunglasses Illesteva
Bikini top (part of set) Adriana Degreas; pants Tom Ford
Jacket and top Rag & Bone; briefs Calvin Klein
Top Chloé; bikini briefs (part of set) Zimmermann

MAKE YOUR (OCCASIONAL) VICES INTO VIRTUES: “Whenever I start to diet, everything goes downhill. So if I want a little bite of dark chocolate on a plane or a cocktail with friends on the weekend, I’ll have it. In fact, I’ll drink a glass of red wine with dinner most nights, and two or three times a week I’ll have a cup of tea and a cupcake with Anja, who’s as obsessed with red velvet as I am. My son Noah, 3 will just pick the icing off the top.”

“If cosmetic help gives you confidence, great. No one can ever be sure of what we’re going to end up wanting to do”

SLEEP AND HUMIDITY ARE MY SKINCARE SECRETS: “The best beauty treatment in the world is sleep. I need eight hours a night and if I don’t get them, I don’t feel good at all. Going to humid places like Florianopolis always makes my skin come alive again, too. I also swear by a vitamin C cream Cyber C Face Cream by Israeli facialist Mimi Luzon, Beautycounter cosmetics, which are super-hydrating and contain SPF, and Charlotte Tilbury blush. That’s all the product I wear when I’m not working. It would be weird to be out with the kids with a face full of makeup.”

“The minute I get home I’m in sweat pants – literally the second I’m inside my front door”

WHAT YOU DO WITH YOUR BODY IS YOUR BUSINESS: “If cosmetic help makes you feel better about yourself and gives you confidence, then great. None of us can ever be sure of what we’re going to end up wanting to do. But it’s important to take care of our mind and spirit, too, not just the outside.”

MY PERSONAL STYLE IS BOHO CHIC WITH AN EDGE: “I love wearing men’s shirts for that ’90s rock’n’roll vibe and then adding little boho touches in the way of jewelry. But the minute I get home I’m in sweat pants or shorts – literally the second I’m inside my front door.”

I’LL KNOW WHEN IT’S TIME TO MOVE ON: “I started modeling at a very young age, and thought it would all end by the time I was 20; now I’m almost 35 and coming up to my 20th year in the industry. Although there might eventually come a time when I want to focus on other areas in my life, if I manage to keep going until I’m 50, like Cindy Crawford, then great. You might die tomorrow, after all, so why make decisions about what you will and won’t do now?”

Top Mugler; briefs Prism; sneakers MM6 Maison Margiela

The people featured in this story are not associated with NET-A-PORTER and do not endorse it or the products shown.