With more than 100 magazine covers to her name and contracts with Valentino, Christian Dior, Escada, Ralph Lauren, Missoni, Michael Kors, Emporio Armani, Michael Kors Swimwear and AKRIS, Michelle Alves has maintained an enviable career balancing blue-chip bookings while remaining accessible. I caught up with Michelle as she talked to me about modeling, her family and goals for the future.
You studied civil engineering before you started modeling. Tell us about that transition.
I’ve always been a tomboy. I was a karate state champion before I decided to study engineering at university. At the same time, I was the girl who used to make clothes for my dolls. I had a few dolls and a sewing kit was one of my Christmas presents. I watched the Paris couture shows never imagining that I’d do that one day. I was mesmerized by the level of creativity and it would take me places in my head. I think these two things will always be inside me.
You have been able to maintain a successful commercial career with brands such as Victoria’s Secret while maintaining blue-chip bookings with Armani, Dior et al. How do you think you’ve been able to remain accessible without losing your exclusivity?
I’ve always been thin but I also have curves. I think the combination of both helped. When I was building my fashion career my looks were in vogue at the time and I was lucky to have a major photographer like Steven Meisel supporting me. Of course, you need to have a good agent behind you too.
What have you discovered about yourself through modeling?
1. If I truly want something and believe that I can have it I will.
2. The most important thing for me is my family.
3. I can go days without eating or sleeping and survive thanks to the intense work schedule around show seasons.
If you weren’t modeling what would you be doing?
I’m not sure if I would be an engineer but I’d love to be an explorer.
What are your goals for the future?
I took some years off to have my children, so I feel that part is accomplished. I’d love to really find a cause to support and have my work be the platform to promote it. I feel restless.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
That I have four kids? I always feel people are surprised when I say that. Also, I love watching shows about ancient aliens.
What does success mean to you?
To achieve what you really want in your life. If it was getting that one job, having the car and house, having the heath to climb Everest, or having a family and living a quiet life in Hawaii. Success is relative to what each of us have as goal in life.
What’s the most interesting item in your fridge?
Aside from the breast milk? We have a big collection of goat and sheep cheeses as our family doesn’t really eat any dairy products and being a good Brazilian girl I have Vita Coco.
Who was the last person you called?
My husband. He is coming to town.
Last person who called you?
My friend Ana Khouri, who is an amazing jewelry designer. You should check her out.
Who do you want to go on a dinner date with tonight?
My husband. We are both in New York and we would probably go to our favorite restaurant Indochine.
Follow her at @ImMichelleAlves