Exclusive: Adriana Lima on the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Moment That Changed Her Life

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Nora Crotty
·News Editor
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Adriana Lima gets fitted for the 2015 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Photography by Joel Barhamand for Yahoo Style

Last Tuesday, one week before the live taping of the 2015 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, Adriana Lima —the lingerie giant’s longest standing Angel— was getting fitted for some wings. Wearing a sheer, baby pink bodysuit with rainbow-dyed pheasant plumes strapped to her back, she struts in front of the studio’s clean white backdrop like a sexed-up technicolor sprite.

This is Lima’s fifteenth sashay down the VS runway, but that doesn’t make it any less thrilling for her. “It’s crazy, but I’m so excited to be here… really!” she tells me, in her heavily accented English—as if I’d for some reason doubt her enthusiasm.

The blue-eyed Brazilian bombshell (in person, it’s impossible NOT to stare at her) first walked for Victoria’s Secret in 1999, back when the show consisted of, as Lima describes it, “just a simple runway—just the girls walking in lingerie, back and forth, and that’s it!” But that didn’t make her any less terrified—after all, she was prancing alongside fashion greats like Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks, Carmen Kass, and Laetitia Casta. “I was so nervous, oh my god,” she says. “I was nervous, anxious, happy… so many mixed emotions.”

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She’s got the Angel moves. Photography by Joel Barhamand for Yahoo Style

Apparently, no one else noticed the nerves: Seven years later, she was honored with the job of opening the show—a moment Lima credits with rocket launching her modeling career. “It was in Los Angeles with Justin [Timberlake] in 2006—that was the first year I opened,” she reminisces. “I think that changed a lot in my career, and also how I carried myself on the runway—it was different. I don’t know what happened… but it happened!” This year, she’ll be joined on the runway by Selena Gomez, The Weeknd, and Eli Goulding.

I asked Lima—who also generally walks in a few big-name designer shows each fashion month—if she ever feels weird or self-conscious doing runway shows in just her underwear, as opposed to, say, a gown by Marc Jacobs. Her answer, in short? Não.

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Lima says this red getup, from the 2013 show, is her all-time favorite. Photo: Getty Images

“I don’t feel uncomfortable walking in lingerie because modeling is like being an actress,” she explains. “The minute we’re doing a photo shoot, a commercial, or a fashion show, we are creating a character and a story that we try to share with the people that are watching.” This year, the VS runway show includes six separate segments, each with a separate theme—and, for Lima, a different character. “For example, [the] Pink [segment] is something more playful and fun… and so you embrace that character—and when you walk out on the runway, that’s how you [portray] yourself.”

One part Lima’s not so convinced she can play? That of a spring chicken. At 34, the still-fresh faced leader of “Team Lima” (that’s what she calls her fans) is already feeling anxiety over the tick of Father Time.

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Ciao, bella! Photo: Joel Barhamand for Yahoo Style

“I just think that, as the years pass, I feel more pressure… because I’m not getting any younger!” she says. “I have to work out harder, but I feel great—I really feel great, and just fortunate to be here. And I plan to stay even longer!”

Something tells us Victoria’s Secret—and Team Lima—would be totally cool with that.

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