SUPERMODEL Gisele Bundchen has bid farewell to the catwalk at an emotionally charged show in her Brazilian homeland.
She said it would be her last stroll down a catwalk in a 20-year career that has made her a fashion superstar.
The 34-year-old mother of two, who is married to the American football star Tom Brady, has said she wants to spend more time with her family but has also vowed to continue working in the industry.
As the world’s highest-paid model, according to a 2014 ranking by Forbes magazine, Bundchen is the face of Chanel, Carolina Herrera, Pantene and other famous brands. She also designs her own line of flip-flops and lingerie.
A household name, Bundchen rivals soccer legend Pele for the status of Brazil’s most internationally famous citizen, after her rise from a middle-class family in a small rural town to superstar.
In a posting on her Instagram account yesterday, Bundchen wrote: “Today after 20 years in the industry, it is a privilege to be doing my last fashion show by choice and yet still be working in other facets of the business.
“I am grateful that at 14, I was given the opportunity to start this journey.”
In an interview broadcast on the Globo television network, she compared her life to a cup of water filled to the brim.
She said: “If your cup is full, how are you going to put more into it? I’m emptying my cup so I can put more things into it.”
Bundchen made her final catwalk appearance during Sao Paulo Fashion Week for Colcci, the Brazilian streetwear label she has represented since 2005.
She made three appearances, opening the show in an A-line dress in white lace and lacey, knee-high black boots and closing it in a sundress with a full skirt in ivory and salmon stripes.
For the final bow, models emerged in jeans and T-shirts printed with Bundchen’s image and the supermodel wove her way through the pack, in jeans and a top depicting her in a yoga pose.
Fighting back tears, she flashed her trademark broad smile and a thumbs-up.
In an interview earlier this week with the newspaper Estado de S Paulo, Bundchen was quoted as saying she wanted her last catwalk experience to be in her native Brazil “where it all started”.
She was born and raised along with five sisters, including a fraternal twin, in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, a centre of German immigration to Brazil.
Bundchen was discovered by a modelling agency at 14 and took second place in a nationwide contest, before moving to New York.
By the age of 20, she had become a fashion sensation, her freckled face and flowing, dirty-blond locks gracing the cover of fashion magazines worldwide.
Bundchen’s success with her healthy good looks was heralded as marking the end of the sickly, skinny and bedraggled “heroin chic” look that had dominated catwalks for years.
Her romantic life was regularly splashed across gossip magazines, as she was romantically linked to celebrities, including surfer Kelly Slater and actor Leonardo DiCaprio. In 2009, she married New England Patriots quarterback Brady. The couple have two children.