One of the world's top-earning models, Alessandra Ambrosio exuded beauty, grace and business smarts. She was born Alessandra Corinne Ambrosio on April 11, 1981 in Erechim, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. She enrolled in modeling classes at 12, a year after undergoing cosmetic surgery to pin her ears back because she felt they protruded. At 15, Ambrosio competed in the annual Elite Model Look contest, which launched the careers of supermodels Cindy Crawford and Gisele Bündchen. She made her first magazine cover appearance on Brazilian ELLE
before gracing the pages of the U.S. and international editions of Vogue
, Harper's Bazaar
, and GQ
, among others. Ambrosio was also one of the most coveted models for high-end fashion houses such as Christian Dior and Oscar de la Renta, as well as mainstream labels like GUESS. In 2004, Ambrosio's popularity soared after she joined the Victoria's Secret "Angels" - an elite group of models that represented the popular lingerie brand. That same year, Victoria's Secret also featured her as the spokesperson for its "Pink" line. Ambrosio also dabbled in acting, from making a cameo in the James Bond flick "Casino Royale" (2006) to appearing on HBO's "Entourage" (2004-2011). Showcasing her business savvy, she launched her own swimwear line Alessandra Ambrosio by Sais, and served as an Ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. In 2012, Ambrosio appeared in the closing ceremonies of the London Summer Olympic Games during the handover ceremony to 2016 host Rio de Janeiro.
By Candy Cuenco