Gisele Bündchen was just named the highest-paid
supermodel by Forbes.
Bündchen, known in the industry as simply “Gisele,” has held the title for the past seven years.
She earned a stunning $US42 million last year. That’s way ahead of second highest-paid model Miranda Kerr, who raked in $US7.2 million.
But before she was a one-woman empire, Gisele was an awkward teenager in Brazil with modest aspirations.
We chronicled how she broke into the scene and became a legend.
Gisele was born in Brazil, but her parents are of German descent. Here she's pictured (center) with her fraternal twin, Patricia, and another sister, Gabi.
Gisele was discovered by a modelling scout in Brazil while eating a Big Mac. Her childhood nickname was 'Olive Oyl,' a reference to cartoon Popeye's gangly wife. She won a contest and was sent to Sao Paulo. Here she's pictured in a 1995 interview telling the station about how she hoped to break into the business.
At age 16, she appeared on the cover of a Brazilian teen magazine with the headline 'Gisele Bundchen, 16 years old, has gone to the top.'
Her big break-out came in 1998, when she walked in Alexander McQueen's famous'Rain' show. McQueen dubbed 18-year-old Gisele 'The Body.'
Later that year, she was selected to pose in a Versace ad. She also did campaigns for Chloe, Missoni, and Valentino.
Two years after moving to the U.S., Gisele was on of the most in-demand models. By the end of 1999, she had three Vogue covers under her belt.
In 2000, Gisele had her biggest career moment yet, signing a record-breaking $US25 million contract with lingerie powerhouse Victoria's Secret. She walked in the televised fashion show and soon became synonymous with the brand.
She also made tabloids for her relationship with actor Leonardo DiCaprio in 2000. Their 5-year relationship solidified her status as a household name.
In 2004, Gisele made her acting debut in 'Taxi' starring Queen Latifah and Jimmy Fallon. She'd also appear in 'The Devil Wears Prada' in 2006.
In late 2006, Gisele began dating her now-husband, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The pair now has two children.
In 2007, Gisele announced she was leaving Victoria's Secret, leading to industry speculation about her future. She had become the most famous Victoria's Secret model, and it was difficult to imagine her as anything else.
Gisele continued walking fashion runways and posing for magazine covers. Her 2007 Vanity Fair Style Issue cover was one of the best-selling of all time.
In 2010, Gisele signed a contract to represent Dutch brand C&A in Brazil. After Gisele's commercials aired, sales soared 30%.
She also has her own highly successful flip flop line with Ipanema. The shoes sell for $US7 and are responsible for doubling the company's share price.
In 2012, luxury jeweler David Yurman reportedly fired Kate Moss to hire Gisele. She also raked in cash from international campaigns with Oral-B and Pantene.
Gisele's career shows no signs of stopping. This year, she's appearing as the face of Chanel's new makeup line, Les Beiges. Fashion legend Karl Lagerfeld reportedly selected her himself, showing that she's still highly desirable in the industry.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.