I was always a good student," Michelle Alves says. "Almost a nerd."
In Londrina, an agricultural city famous for its fertile purple
soil, Alves earned high marks in civil engineering at one of
Brazil's top universities. But this would-be engineer had designs
on the modeling world, and with the blessings of her mother (a
lawyer) and father (an engineer), she headed to Sao Paulo at 18,
and signed with a modeling agency. She has since done ads for
Christian Dior, Valentino and Armani, and been in runway shows
for Versace, Stella McCartney and John Galliano. In November she
was in the Victoria's Secret holiday fashion show. The
21year-old, who now lives in New York City, says, "Modeling works
another side of me, the emotional side. I was very intellectual,
and I like to learn. I like to be able to add something to the
conversation." This is Alves's first appearance in the Swimsuit
Summer is May Andersen's favorite time of the year in Copenhagen.
"There are so many things to do," she says. "We have just three
or four hours of darkness in the summer. You can stay outside all
day and night because it's always light. Sleep? You don't."
Knowing how to get by on little sleep has been necessary because
Andersen has been quite busy over the past few years. She got her
start in modeling at 13 when she was spotted on a Copenhagen
street by a photographer. At 20 she is one of the fashion world's
rising stars, having been in ads for Matrix Biolage, BCBG,
Victoria's Secret and J. Crew. She now lives in New York City
with her two dogs. This is her first appearance in the Swimsuit
Ana Beatriz Barros
Beauty clearly runs deep in the bloodlines of the Barros family.
Both Ana Beatriz and her older sister, Patricia, are well-known
models. "She always tells everyone I am the most beautiful woman
in the world," Ana, 20, says of Patricia, 22. "And I tell
everyone that she is." (Alas, the youngest of the sisters wants
to become a doctor, not a model.) Born in tiny Itabira and reared
in bustling Rio de Janeiro, Ana and Patricia were walking on a
Rio beach five years ago when they were spotted by a
representative from Elite Model Management. Ana has done ads for
Guess, Chanel, Replay Jeans and Victoria's Secret, and has walked
the runway for Christian Dior, John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier
and Valentino. Barros, who speaks Portuguese, English and
Italian, lives in New York City. For fun, she bowls (she's still
hoping to break 100) and roots for Flamengo, the most popular
soccer club in Brazil. This is her second appearance in the
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA
Though Yamila Diaz-Rahi had been working in the fashion world for
several years, it was her appearance on the cover of last year's
Swimsuit Issue that got her noticed on the street. "When people
see you in the airport," she says, "they look at you like, 'Is it
her?'" The 26-year-old was discovered by a modeling scout for a
top Milan agency eight years ago while vacationing with her
family on a beach near Punta del Este, a resort city in Uruguay.
She has since gone on to become the first Latina spokesperson for
Cover Girl and appeared in ads for Replay Jeans and Victoria's
Secret. This is her fifth appearance in the Swimsuit Issue. Last
year she added cinematic credits to her resume with a lead role
in the Italian romantic comedy Il Pesce Innamorato (The Fish in
Love). Diaz-Rahi likes to ride horses, listen to Argentine music
and cheer on Argentina's Boca Juniors soccer club. She lives in
New York City but makes sure she sees her family in Buenos Aires
at least four times a year.
Isabeli Fontana says she can't wait to become a mother. And she
won't have to wait very long. The 19-year-old is due to deliver a
baby boy early next month, and she and her fiance, fellow
Brazilian model Alvaro Jacomossi, already have a name picked out:
Zion Fontana Jacomossi. "We wanted to give him a strong name, and
Zion means 'God' or 'blessed,'" she says. Though Fontana's still
just a teen, she is a seasoned pro in modeling. She was 12 when
she told her mother she wanted to be a model; one year later she
was a finalist in an Elite Model Look Contest in Sao Paulo.
Fontana is the youngest model ever to appear in the Victoria's
Secret catalog, has been a fixture in the Paris and Milan
collection runway shows for five years and has been in ad
campaigns for Ralph Lauren and Valentino. Fontana, who lives in
New York but makes frequent trips back to Brazil, is fluent in
Portuguese, English and Italian. This marks her second appearance
in the Swimsuit Issue.
She will one day master the art of cooking, Reka Ebergenyi vows,
though that day is not close at hand. "I would love to learn to
cook, but I am too lazy," she says. "Everybody cooks for me, or I
just call out." Such are the benefits of being one of the
freshest faces in fashion. Though born in Budapest, she grew up
in Sopron, an ancient city near the Austrian border. Ebergenyi
attended a school that specialized in fashion design, where she
caught the eye of a Hungarian designer during one of the school's
modeling shows. Modeling for less than two years, Ebergenyi, 21,
was the one newcomer in the 2002 Victoria's Secret holiday
fashion show and just completed her first major ad campaign, for
Joop! She was recently shot for the cover of German Vogue, and
last month she walked the runaway for Gianfranco Ferre, which was
her introduction to couture. This is her first appearance in the
Bridget Hall stays active when she's not modeling; she snowboards
in the winter, wakeboards in the summer and says she's dying to
go skydiving again. (She might get her brother, Josh, to take the
leap with her--he's a pilot, so it's not likely he's afraid of
heights...or planes.) She exploded into modeling a decade ago,
and is now one of the world's most famous faces. She got her
start at 10 when her mother walked her into a modeling agency in
Dallas and has since been on magazine covers all over the world;
she has since done ads for Anne Klein, Gucci, Guess Jeans and
Versace. In 1996, when Hall was just 18, she was listed in Forbes
as one of the top 10 money-making supermodels. Now 25, Hall lives
in Brooklyn. This is her second appearance in the Swimsuit Issue.
LES ULIS, FRANCE
Here's a compelling argument for why you should always mail your
letters at your local post office: You never know whom you might
discover. Or who might discover you. Seven years ago Noemie
Lenoir was buying stamps for her mother at a post office near her
home when she was spotted by a representative of Ford Models.
That chance encounter led to a contract, and this 23-year-old has
since put her stamp on the modeling world. Lenoir has been
featured in campaigns for L'Oreal, Gap, Tommy Hilfiger and
Victoria's Secret, and is making her third appearance in the
Swimsuit Issue. In 2001 she made her first foray into acting by
playing one of Cleopatra's courtesans in Asterix & Obelix:
Mission Cleopatre. Her second movie, Gomez et Tavares, opens in
France in May. She plans to pursue more acting roles, but when
she needs to get away from the pressures of her career, she
visits her mother, who lives on Reunion island, a slice of
paradise off the coast of Madagascar.
LONG LAKE, MINNESOTA
Danger has a bunkmate in this golden-haired Gopher girl. Back in
her native Minnesota, Melissa Keller loved nothing more than to
jump off bridges and cliffs. "We used to do bridge-jumping all
the time in Minnesota, and I later did some cliff-jumping in
Jamaica," she says. Keller got her start in modeling at 15 when
her father took photos of her to a Minneapolis agency, hoping to
persuade his daughter to renounce her passion for all things
punk. Now 24, she has appeared in campaigns for Revlon, L'Oreal,
Aveda and Gap. Keller splits her time between New York City and
Los Angeles but says Cuba is her favorite place. "It's magical,"
she says. "It's like going back in time." Despite her
cosmopolitan lifestyle, Keller is true to her hometown teams,
pulling for the Minnesota Vikings and the Timberwolves. Keller,
who is recently single, has her nickname ("Foxy") tattooed on the
back of her neck. This is her second appearance in the Swimsuit
JOSE BONIFACIO, BRAZIL
When Juliana Martins was growing up she had to get used to having
people stare at her lush lips. "Many people made fun of my lips,"
she says. "They called me Doll Lips. But a lot of people like my
lips now. I like them too." From her lips to our pages. Just 19,
Martins is making her first appearance in the Swimsuit Issue. She
has appeared in ads for Ralph Lauren, Bruno Magli and Keita, and
walked the runway for Armani, Emanuel Ungaro and Blumarine. She
got her start in modeling at 13 when she was a finalist for an
Elite Model Look Contest and started traveling the world two
years later. She loves to dance, hates to fly and is a rabid fan
of the Palmeiras soccer club, traditionally one of the top teams
in Brazil. She now lives in New York City. If you are nice to
her, she may show you the small flower tattoo on the back of her
neck, which she designed herself.
SANTA CRUZ, CALIFORNIA
If everybody had an ocean across the U.S.A., Marisa Miller would
be very happy. "Surfing's the best exercise in the world," says
Miller, who lives a few steps from the beach in Marina del Rey,
Calif. She was surfing two years ago when famed photographer
Mario Testino took pictures of her; the 23-year-old has since done
ads for Tommy Hilfiger, and has been on the cover of Shape. This
is her second appearance in the Swimsuit Issue, but she's no
stranger to sports. She grew up a 49ers fan and snared Jerry
Rice's signature at a mall when she was in eighth grade. "I tore
off a piece of my shopping bag so he could sign it," she says. "I
still have the autograph."
KARVINA, CZECH REPUBLIC
Petra Nemcova doesn't mind being called a Czech Chick. "Paulina
Porizkova was the first Czech Chick," she says, laughing, "and
she is amazing, beautiful and has a very strong personality."
The same can be said about Nemcova, who grew up picking
blueberries and mushrooms in Karvina, a tiny town in the
mountains northeast of Prague. She has done ads for La Perla,
Max Factor, Cartier and Victoria's Secret. Nemcova loves to
dance and scuba-dive, and often writes down self-help sayings to
get her through difficult times. "I wish I could put these
quotes on every billboard. It would make life much easier for
people." The 24-year-old lives in New York City and Paris but
gets to sleep in one of her own beds just a handful of days a
month. Of her frequent travels, she says, "It seems like I am in
the air more than on earth." She is making her third appearance
in the Swimsuit Issue; this is her first time on the cover.
To prepare for her first swimsuit shoot in three years, Sarah
O'Hare went on a mission. "I hired a trainer and worked out seven
days a week for three months," she says. Not that anyone was
complaining about how she looked before the trainer showed up.
O'Hare has appeared in ads for Bonds, Wonderbra and Revlon. This
is her second Swimsuit Issue. O'Hare was born in London, but her
family moved to Sydney when she was just 18 months old. She
started modeling at 17, after her older brother urged her to
check out a local modeling agency. She was hired for a magazine
cover shoot the next day. O'Hare, 30, resides in Sydney and New
York City, and is pursuing a double major in history and
political science at New York University. Three years ago she
married Lachlan Murdoch, the deputy chief operating officer of
News Corporation. (In case you're wondering, she addresses her
father-in-law as Rupert.)
TEPLICE, CZECH REPUBLIC
This is no dumb blonde. Beneath Daniela Pestova's lovely locks
lies a wicked sense of humor. Asked to describe her favorite body
part, she says, "On the days when it's working properly, my
brain." The celebrity she most wants to see body-painted:
"Hillary Clinton." It's not likely that the junior senator from
New York will be appearing in the Swimsuit Issue anytime soon,
but Pestova has graced these pages seven times; she has been on
the cover twice (1995 and 2000). Discovered by a modeling scout
in Prague at age 19, Pestova has been a top model for more than a
decade and has been in ads for L'Oreal, Guess and Victoria's
Secret. She lives in New York City, speaks six languages (Czech,
English, Italian, French, Russian and Slovak) and is the mother
of Yanick, 6, and seven-month-old Ella. Asked how she wants to be
remembered, Pestova finally gets serious: "As a great mom."
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Audrey Quock towers over her sisters, and she couldn't be
happier about it. "My sisters are borderline midgets," says the
5'10" Quock of sisters Jennie (5'2") and Wendy (5 feet).
"Growing up we called ourselves JAWS for Jennie, Audrey, Wendy
and [her older brother] Steven." The 26-year-old has taken a
healthy bite of modeling success--ads for Cover Girl, Shisheido
and Bobbi Brown--and has had some luck in acting, playing Don
Cheadle's wife in Rush Hour 2 and Richard Gere's girlfriend in
Autumn in New York. Discovered at 16, Quock lives in the same
apartment building in Manhattan that she grew up in. Her words
to live by: "If your ship doesn't come in, swim out to it." This
is her fifth appearance in the Swimsuit Issue.
Flashing sophistication, Southern charm and a splash of sass,
Molly Sims is the perfect host for MTV's House of Style. The
27-year-old model-actress started doing the show in 1999,
following in the footsteps of SI swimsuit alums Cindy Crawford
and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos. It's the latest gig in a soaring
career that started when Sims was an undergraduate at Vanderbilt.
Today Sims is a spokeswoman for Cover Girl cosmetics and has done
ads for Old Navy, Victoria's Secret, Nautica and Armani. This is
her fourth appearance in the Swimsuit Issue. Sims splits her time
between New York City and Los Angeles and is a big sports fan.
(Her older brother, Todd, is trying to qualify for the PGA Tour.)
The most dangerous thing she's ever done? "I do it every month,"
she says. "It's called a Brazilian bikini wax." Asked for her
motto Sims says, "If you're going to be good, be good. But if
you're going to be bad, be really good at being bad."
BUFFALO, NEW YORK
Dead bodies don't scare Jessica White. In fact, she wouldn't mind
spending the next 30 years working with them. "I've always wanted
to be a forensic pathologist," she says. "I want to pursue a
medical career and do autopsies." For now, she's content to bring
some life to the modeling world; she has already been featured in
campaigns for Cover Girl, Gap and Chloe. She got her start at 14
when she flipped through the Buffalo Yellow Pages and found a
modeling school. Success in local competitions got her invited to
the International Model and Talent Association competition in
1999, which led to a contract with IMG Models in New York City.
An avowed homebody, White still lives with her family in Buffalo.
She recently took up golf, which she has found to be a challenge
in her hometown. "Last year we got buried in snow the day before
Christmas," she says. "I was snowed in for a good month!" This is
White's first appearance in the Swimsuit Issue.
Fernanda Tavares has a secret wish: to play the violin. While
Fernanda was growing up in Natal, a tropical city on the
Brazilian coast, her mother, Cheilha, dreamed of having her play
in the city's orchestra. The local music school didn't have a
violin, though, and the orchestra's loss turned out to be our
gain. She started modeling in local shows when she was nine and
moved to Sao Paulo at 14 to focus full time on her career. Three
years later she was on the runway for Chanel and John Galliano.
Tavares has also done ads for Versace, Louis Vuitton and Armani.
Tavares, who lives in New York City, is just 22, but she has a
clear vision of her future. "I want to have three kids before I'm
30," she says. And don't count on her raising those kids in
Manhattan. "I miss the beach every day I'm in New York.
Especially when I look in the mirror and see how pale I am." This
is her second appearance in the Swimsuit Issue.