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Porter
Cover story

The Wild One

With

Behati Prinsloo

Born in Namibia and now living in LA with singer-songwriter husband Adam Levine, model BEHATI PRINSLOO is navigating a career path without fear of veering off the beaten track – when ‘success’ is not your ambition, it leaves you open to finding a more interesting way to travel. The 30-year-old shares her journey from Africa to the world of music videos and group chats with the Victoria’s Secret moms

Photography Alexandra NatafStyling Morgan Pilcher
Cover Stories
Opening image: Coat Acne Studios; T-shirt Victoria, Victoria Beckham; hat Albus Lumen; earring throughout Behati’s own. This image: Coat Loewe; jeans Proenza Schouler

“IT WAS A SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM when I left Namibia to model. The first place I went was London. I was 15, it was gray and freezing; I wasn’t used to the cold, I wasn’t used to how many people there were. But I’m an only child and I feel like I’ve always wanted chaos around me. I learned a lot about myself, and although at times I was really miserable, I really enjoyed it, too. New York was also a shock; the first time I had to take a taxi, I was like, ‘This is crazy!’ We don’t have cabs in Africa, you just drive everywhere.”

“THE HARDEST THING WAS having to speak English all day every day. I missed talking to people in Afrikaans. In New York, how quickly everything moves was a shock, but in the end, it gets you – it throws you in at the deep end and you just have to swim, you don’t question it. Compared to Namibia, it’s a whole new world. I’m so glad I spent my late teens and early twenties there; you really discover yourself through discovering the city. It’s such a crazy place to be when you’re that young and alone. I could do whatever I wanted. I’m so happy I did my growing up there.”

[Adam and I] broke up, REALIZED it was the worst decision, then got back together, got ENGAGED and got married. It was a WILD ride!”

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Coat Proenza Schouler; jeans Totême; boots Isabel Marant; hat Albus Lumen
Dress Brunello Cucinelli; hat Albus Lumen

“I’ve been MODELING for 15 years and when I got pregnant, I wanted to ENJOY my time. No one pressured me to return to WORK, not even Victoria’s Secret”

“I MET MY HUSBAND [Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine] through a mutual friend. Adam was looking for a girl for a music video that could do some action stuff, and our friend was like, ‘You should meet Behati because she’s a total tomboy and down for anything,’ so he emailed me asking if I could do it. I ended up not doing it, but we kept emailing each other. It was such a natural correspondence that we kind of fell in love over email. A month later, I went to LA for a job, and that was the first time we met in person. I remember walking in: I opened the door, and it was the classic moment where the light shines into the dark studio and everyone turned to look at me. He had boxing gloves on and he came to hug me – it was so awkward. Then he took me for dinner and we talked for hours and had the best time. It was love at first sight, it was crazy. We broke up for two months, realized that it was the worst decision, then got back together, got engaged and got married. It was a wild ride!”

“I DIDN’T FEEL UNDER PRESSURE to get back in shape [after having children]. I got pregnant [with daughter Gio, now 11 months] seven months after I had my first baby [daughter Dusty, now two]. I’ve been modeling for 15 years and when I got pregnant I didn’t want to do anything, I wanted to enjoy my time. I really liked being pregnant and not working. When I got pregnant the second time, I just did the same thing. After my first baby, I had a little postpartum depression and it was difficult to get back into normal life, but after the second one everything felt so much easier; it was easier for me to workout, breastfeeding was easier. No one pressured me to return to work, not even Victoria’s Secret, who I was under contract with – they never asked me when I was going to be back.”

“I did the Victoria’s Secret SHOW eight months after I had Gio [my second daughter]. I felt so EMPOWERED. I was like, ‘I can DO this, I have two kids”

Coat Adeam; jacket and jeans Eve Denim; T-shirt Victoria, Victoria Beckham; boots Isabel Marant
Shirt dress Paco Rabanne; jeans Eve Denim; boots Isabel Marant

“I’M FINALLY ENJOYING GETTING DRESSED AGAIN. I was pregnant and then breastfeeding for so long that I was literally living in yoga pants. But a few months ago I put them on and was like, ‘No, it’s time to put on jeans and wear a normal outfit.’ I love jeans and a T-shirt. Adam gets me crazy sneakers and I have a closet full of shoes, but I usually wear Dr. Martens. I’ve never been the kind of girl who wears heels in the day – it makes me feel uncomfortable and I’m way too tall [5ft 11]. If I have an event then I’ll wear a pair, but not to just run errands.”

“I DID THE VICTORIA’S SECRET SHOW eight months after I had Gio. I felt so empowered. I was like, ‘I can do this, I have two kids.’ It was a beautiful journey; I loved being pregnant and I enjoyed getting back to work.”

“MY DAUGHTER DUSTY IS REALLY FUNNY and bossy. She’s a Virgo; she has such a personality. It’s weird that you can tell their sense of humor when they’re two. Gio is cuddly and sweet. I’m excited to see them a little older and really see their personalities [develop] because I think they’ll be very different.”

Cape Givenchy; hat Albus Lumen

“The people I look up to the most are working MOTHERS – it’s awesome to see amazing, STRONG women with kids and a career, killing it at BOTH”

“I AM SO LUCKY [that] it’s easy to balance work and kids because my husband was born and raised [in LA] – he has a whole family here: grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. It’s really amazing to know that when I leave the kids for a day or two, they are surrounded with so much family. I’m [currently] keeping work very casual and not trying to be everywhere and show that I’m ‘back’ – it’s tough being a mom. The people I look up to the most are working mothers; it’s awesome to see these amazing, strong women with kids and a career, killing it at both.”

“DUSTY ALREADY HAS HER OWN SENSE OF STYLE. There are things I’ll try to put on her [to wear] and she will be like, ‘No, Mommy, no.’ So I have to go through the whole wardrobe until she finds something she wants to wear. She definitely has her own thing going; she’ll wear a T-shirt with a tank top over it, leggings, a tutu and shoes that are too big. She’s pretty wild – a real rock’n’roll baby! She keeps me on my toes.”

Blouse Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini; jeans Agolde; boots Isabel Marant; scarf Albus Lumen

“I have a WhatsApp group with my BEST friends Candice Swanepoel and Lily Aldridge. It’s so fun to have that friendship where you TOTALLY understand each other’s job but you NEVER talk about work”

Sweatshirt Helmut Lang; hat Albus Lumen
Shirt dress Paco Rabanne

“I’VE STARTED TO WORK WITH SAVE THE RHINO TRUST. [Model] Doutzen Kroes is a really good friend; she works a lot with elephant [charities] and put me in touch with a woman who was working with Save The Rhino Trust Namibia. Namibia is a big part of my life – it has the largest number of free-roaming black rhinos and they are getting poached left and right. If our generation doesn’t try to end poaching, the rhinos simply won’t be there one day. I am so close to this land, it’s where I’m from. I’m going to do a film with the rhino trackers to try and shed light on the situation. If I only save one rhino it will still be worth it.”

“I HAVE A WHATSAPP GROUP with my best friends [models] Candice Swanepoel and Lily Aldridge. Lily is pregnant at the moment so me and Candice are constantly telling her what products to get. It’s so fun to have that friendship where you totally understand each other’s job but you never talk about work. In the last messages we exchanged, Candice showed us a video of her little boy and we were all dying over his shoes. I told her she looked insane in the VS show, then we were talking about Lily’s commercial that played during the show. We also talked about schools because [Lily’s daughter] Dixie is a little older, and Candice was giving us some advice… It’s a mom thread!”

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