Gisele Walked in Rio, But Why?

The supermodel isn't just married to a Patriot—she is one

Friday night’s opening ceremonies for the Olympic games in Rio brought a lot of fashion discussion. No, not the “who wore what best?” talk surrounding the various national uniform (arguably, uniforms, while they can be stylish, are not fashion). Rather, it was the fashion world connection that was Gisele Bündchen super-modeling all over the place.

Bündchen retired from the runway over a year ago, but came out in support of her country for one final prance down the catwalk (technically, across the stadium floor). But…why?

To those who remember the London closing ceremonies in 2012, this should be of no surprise—in the tradition of passing on the games to the next city, Victoria’s Secret Angel Alessandra Ambrosio appeared with a delegation from Rio, giving everyone a hint of what was to come. Beautiful women were always going to be a part of the mix. 

During the London closing ceremonies, the Brits also selected a group of their most famous models to make an appearance wearing clothes by some of England’s top fashion designers. The difference between the two, however, is that the Brits had more of a focus on fashion (there was even a tie-in photo shoot by Nick Knight for British Vogue).

That is not to say that there weren’t good reasons for Bündchen to be there: She is one of the biggest supermodels in the world, and is a predominant Brazilian celebrity; she walked to a rendition of “The Girl From Ipanema”, which is about a beautiful, blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman (which Gisele embodies); and she wore a custom dress by Brazilian designer Alexandre Herchcovitch. (This was a particularly big moment for Herchcovitch—around 30 million people saw his shimmering gown, which is actually about 20% fewer people that watched the 2012 London opening ceremony, but that’s another discussion entirely.) Furthermore, Bündchen is a big supporter of fashion in her home country. Her “retirement” walk down the runway was during São Paulo Fashion Week, where she had previously been a fixture.

It’s interesting to watch countries embrace fashion as part of their national identity—and not in the sense of traditional garb, but capitol “F” Fashion. It is important to Brazil (and to whomever else) that it acknowledges its contribution to a global industry. Although Rio’s approach wasn’t quite as overt as London’s, Bündchen is an excellent embodiment of the Brazilian fashion industry. And while it remains to be seen whether the Olympics will provide a boost to Brazilian fashion talents, it’s encouraging to see that fashion (no, not just supermodels, fashion, too) is being acknowledged on such an important international stage. Here’s hoping special cultural correspondents Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio continue to promote homegrown, independent designers as they take a stab at reporting for NBC. Stay tuned…

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