‘I’m pleased that people like my work,’ says Candice Swanepoel of her popularity amongst the press and public. The South African-born model is of course professionally beautiful – and it just so happens that her day job is very much appreciated by the gawping everyman. In addition to her career on the catwalk circuit, you’ll recognize her as the girl who wowed the world in the $10 million Fantasy Bra at the Victoria’s Secret show last November. With or without the pricey lingerie, Candice looks a million dollars, but what else would she try on?
Valentine’s Day is coming up. Do you love or loathe it?
I’m pretty cynical about it usually. But as I’m getting older I’m getting into a bit more. I like things that are a little more spontaneous and natural. But I’m realising that it is a good excuse to celebrate.
What do you normally get up to?
I like to stay at home and cook a nice meal or just be surprised by my boyfriend [giggles].
Who makes a bigger effort?
The men on Valentine’s Day have to make a bigger effort. It’s on both sides but initially the guy has to make the effort.
I’ve got a friend who went on a date with a man who played with lint from his belly button. What’s the oddest first date nervous tic that you’ve encountered?
[Laughs] It’s not that odd but profuse sweating or like wandering hands.
You’ve been dating Brazilian model Hermann Nicoli for a few years now. Was it love at first sight?
Since 17. Yeah, it was kind of love or desire at first sight [laughs]. I was living between Milan, London and Paris and I met him at a party in Milan very briefly. Then I was in Paris a year later during men’s fashion week, when I was staying in a little apartment hotel in Paris, and we met in the lobby, and that’s where we hit it off.
Did he approach you?
[Giggles] We both have different stories but I kind of approached him, that’s the funny thing. I had just come out of a relationship in South Africa that wasn’t working and pretty soon after that I met him… and the rest is history.
After a few drinks on a first date, like countless other men I’ve been guilty of asking a girl back home. How do you feel about these kinds of requests?
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that – it depends on how the date went. It’s about gauging where the other person is at. That’s the thing, if I were single, I would be terrible. When you’re younger it’s so much more innocent and easy – it’s more organic. As adults it’s more of a tricky thing, you kind of want to respect the girl.
Adults have different intentions…
Yeah, but women are just as bad as men. There’s no harm in asking, she’ll say no if she doesn’t want to.
Over the years, you’ve spent a lot of time being photographed in lingerie for magazines. Am I right in thinking that this is how you hang out in your home?
[Laughs] Um no, I must admit that I have a great collection of lingerie. At home I try to find the most comfortable thing to wear.
Do you go for Bridget Jones-style bloomers?
No, no, no, definitely not. I have access to all this beautiful lingerie. You can find comfy lingerie like boy shorts, briefs – and commando always works [giggles].
Always nice to be naked. You’re a ballet dancer, so do you like expressing your sexuality through dance?
Yeah, I mean growing up doing ballet makes you a lot more aware of how to move your body. Dance is a big part of the way we communicate with people, the way we feel about ourselves. When you’re out and dancing you’re showing people a part of yourself.
Are you normally one of the first to get dancing on a night out?
I’m that person who won’t talk and will be dancing the entire time. It’s a release for me, I love to dance. And I like expressing myself through Brazilian samba.
Are you competent at doing the samba?
[Giggles] Not 100 percent but I can take it pretty well.
Do you go dancing with your boyfriend?
In Brazil, there are parties everywhere, so we kind of go wild.
You said in a past interview that blondes have more fun. What do you mean by that?
The difference between brunettes and blondes is that you notice a blonde first when she walks into a room. I was more serious as a brunette. It’s easier to have that cute, naughty, playful attitude as a blonde.
So going blonde has changed your attitude?
I’m used to playing a different role for work. Hair colour is like fragrance or lingerie: it brings something different out of you.
Should lingerie create a fantasy?
Yeah. There are so many different styles that all play a different role: Body by Victoria’s Secret is very relaxed and there’s a sexy line that’s playful with colour, garter belts and babydolls. Then there’s the more cutesy stuff with lace and frills.
Which is your favourite style and why?
I do tend to stick to the more sultry black lace, garter belts and subtle styles.
Men often buy the generic gifts of chocolates, jewellery, flowers or lingerie. What do girls actually want?
Everything. [Laughs]. I enjoy getting flowers and it’s always interesting seeing what lingerie a partner will pick out for you.
Do you trust a man’s choice?
Yeah, for Valentine’s Day because it’s kind of their fantasy and it’s fun to play that out. I wouldn’t trust him with my everyday stuff – it wouldn’t be comfortable but one day of the year is fine.