Candice Swanepoel ditches Paris fashion for Woolies

2013-09-29 14:01

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She went from being a barefoot farm girl frolicking around Mooi River in KwaZulu-Natal to having the fashion world at her feet.

At 24, Candice Swanepoel is one of the highest-earning models in the world; she has been romantically linked to rapper Kanye West and counts actor Leonardo DiCaprio as a friend.

But the New York-based blonde beauty has not forgotten her roots, and this week she ditched an opportunity to showcase Louis Vuitton’s latest creations at Paris Fashion Week to “sleep in her own bed at home” in a sea-facing suburb near Cape Town.

Swanepoel did a shoot for Woolworths this weekend and was deeply touched during a meeting with Operation Smile – which provides free cleft-repair surgery to children – as the retailer’s ambassador.

Speaking at a function in the stately Mount Nelson Hotel’s red-carpeted ballroom on Friday night, the model had to wipe the tears from her eyes first.

“I met with four little kids. One of them smiled for the very first time today. Sorry, but this is emotional,” she said.

Balancing on sky-high black and gold heels, she spoke softly.

“Thank you for being so proud of me?…?And yes, I would love a drink round about now!”

Her parents Eileen and Willem Swanepoel were also at the function.

Candice grew up in Mooi River and was discovered by a talent scout at a Durban flea market when she was 15 years old.

She left school two years later and soon moved into her own New York penthouse.

In 2007, she was chosen to represent the steamy lingerie label Victoria’s Secret, with a succession of magazine cover shoots catapulting her to rapid world attention.

Last year, she joined the ranks of Kate Moss, Heidi Klum and Gisele Bündchen when Forbes Magazine listed her as one of the top-10 earning models in the world. Her earnings are estimated at R3.3?billion ($3.3?million).

Swanepoel’s parents moved to Somerset West near Cape Town in 2008, where framed photographs of the model adorn walls and coffee tables.

Eileen smiled brightly while speaking about her daughter on Friday.

“Candice will stay with us for a week after the Woolies shoot. She decided to give up the Louis Vuitton Paris Fashion Week show to come to Cape Town. It wasn’t a career move. I mean, in New York they don’t know Woolworths – it was a decision of the heart.”

Eileen said they planned do some sightseeing while Swanepoel was in town. “We’ll go taste some wines and visit Kalk Bay, her favourite.

Mostly, I think Candice just loves being able to sleep in her own bed.”

Tabloids have linked Swanepoel to Zac Efron and Kanye West, rumours which Eileen denied.

“Candice has met them, but they haven’t dated,” she said.

Other celebrities nibbling on salmon canapés at the Mount Nelson on Friday included Masterchef?winner Kamini Pather, who looked tiny while posing for pictures next to Swanepoel’s towering 1.75-metre frame.

Pather said she had just returned home to Cape Town after attending the Johannesburg Good Food and Wine Show.

“I’m on such a good vibe, it’s just great,” she said.

Bad boy of South African cricket Herschelle Gibbs and his latest flame, Sherrin Davie, were also spotted at the event.

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