With the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show approaching, models are preparing to don their wings and lingerie for the runway.
For one of the brand’s most influential angels, however, the show is a reminder of her former life.
In Gisele Bündchen's new memoir Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life, the supermodel reflects on her incredible career modelling for Victoria’s Secret - and how she made the surprise decision to leave.
Bündchen was just 19-years-old when she signed a commercial contract with the lingerie brand - when there was still a “strong division“ between being a fashion model and modelling for a catalogue company, she explains in her book.
At the time, she was “so happy“ for the opportunity and financial security that came with it.
Although she later became the highest-paid supermodel in the world for 15 consecutive years, in her early years of modelling, Bündchen revealed that her yearly paycheck from Victoria’s Secret made up 80 percent of her annual income.
However, despite making a name for herself as one of the brand’s most recognizable models, Bündchen eventually grew tired of the lifestyle and the demands that came with being an angel.
"For the first five years, I felt comfortable modelling in lingerie, but as time went on, I felt less and less at ease being photographed walking the runway wearing just a bikini or a thong,“ she wrote. “Give me a tail, a cape, wings - please, anything to cover me up a little!“
So by the time the supermodel was set to renew her contract in 2006, she was conflicted.
"I was certainly grateful for the opportunity and the financial security the company had given me, but I was at a different place in my life, and I wasn't sure I wanted to continue working there," Bündchen writes.
To help her make up her mind, Bündchen relied on an unconventional method - she “crumpled up two small pieces of paper“ with the words “yes“ and “no“ on them, “and placed them inside an empty teacup.
"I closed my eyes and set an intention: whatever piece of paper I chose would be for my highest and best self and be the right decision,“ she explained.
And although the chosen piece of paper ended her career with Victoria’s Secret, the supermodel said she’s “at peace“ with the decision - as it was the answer she “unconsciously wanted to hear.“
Though the model is no longer a part of the annual event, her legacy continues to influence the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. Makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury told People that Bündchen is the inspiration behind the "sun-kissed" looks the models will be wearing at this year's show, so it looks like she'll be there in spirit.