Certain celebrities become one-word symbols: Madonna, Prince, Oprah. In the modelling world, this only applies to a select few. Gisele being one. Muse to Mario, and one of Brazil’s hottest ever exports, her impact on fashion was instant and dramatic. We chatted with Mario about his first impressions of Gisele, how she’s influenced his photography, and her place in fashion history.
When did you meet Gisele?
MT: I met Gisele Bündchen when she was 16 or 17-years old. I was doing a casting in New York, and I had seen loads of models that day, and all of a sudden this girl walks in and it felt like somebody had turned the lights on in the room.
What was so special about her?
MT: Gisele came at a time in my life when I needed to rediscover my style. At the time, I’d moved to spend more time in France, Italy and America, and I had come across an editor, Carine Roitfeld, who had told me to go back to my roots and look at my nudes for inspiration. In a way, I realized that Brazil had been a very important part of my profession, because a lot of my extroverted personality came from being in Brazil. It’s a place where men feel so comfortable walking all over the city in their little Speedos. I was so impressed by that, because I did not grow up in a society like this. So when I met Gisele, she brought back all those memories of my youth and the style of photography that I wanted to convey, which had to do with sexuality and with having a good time. Gisele was all that. She was somebody that would burst out laughing at anything, and you could feel that her life was more exciting than anyone else’s.
Gisele had a hard time being accepted at the beginning of her career, which is hard to believe now, but you saw something in her right from the beginning…
MT: Gisele wasn’t your girl next door, she had this particular beauty and the most unbelievable body. Her body shocked the industry, as we weren’t used to having a girl who fit the clothes the way she did. And I am not talking about clothes in general, I’m talking about clothes made for the fashion shows, the samples that designers make, which are cut in a very precise way and for really small bodies. We started working a lot, and at the beginning not everybody was into her. However, I would only do certain projects if I could do them with her. I was obsessed by her. We have been working together now for… God knows how many years… a good 15 years at least or more.