Why Gisele's Final Runway Walk Was An Important Moment For Working Women

Photo: Fernanda Calfat/Getty Images.
Almost exactly one month after she announced her retirement from the runway, Gisele Bündchen took her final turn on the catwalk yesterday at Colcci’s São Paulo Fashion Week show. And, in true Gisele fashion, she went out with a giant smile on her face and more than a few supporters cheering her on. 

Not only did her husband, Tom Brady, watch from the front row, he also shared a note on Facebook in honor of his wife's big move. And, People StyleWatch reports that Bündchen strut her last strut surrounded by fellow models all wearing shirts featuring illustrations of her face — a sweet homage to the 34-year-old, who has collaborated with the Brazilian brand for decades now.

Gisele acknowledged her last runway appearance on Instagram with a photo of herself at her first runway show at the age of 14. She wrote, "I am grateful that, at 14, I was given the opportunity to start this journey. Today, after 20 years in the industry, it is a privilege to be doing my last fashion show by choice and yet still be working in other facets of the business. #firstrunway #14yearsold." 
Although she's not leaving modeling entirely, the fact that Gisele made the decision to retire from the runway herself — rather than allowing the fashion industry to dictate her "expiration date" — speaks volumes about the amount of control she's been able to maintain throughout her career. Her particular profession may not be an option for the huge majority of women in the world, but the way she's been able to set her own terms for how she operates within it, her personal life, and her family, and to great success, is inspirational nonetheless.

In the '90s, she was one of the early Brazilian models to find fame internationally, alongside the likes of Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, and Isabeli Fontana. She parlayed her runway success into all aspects of fashion, including dozens of campaigns for Chanel, Versace, Givenchy, Chloé, and practically every big-name designer you can think of. Perhaps most impressive, though, is Gisele's ability to tread the line between mass-market and high-fashion, proving that it is  possible to be a Victoria's Secret Angel and the face of Chanel. In so doing, she paved the way for fellow crossover acts Karlie Kloss and Jourdan Dunn. 

If '90s stars Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington were some of the first supermodels to become household names, then Gisele helped to pioneer turning modeling into a personal brand. She's consistently ranked as the wealthiest model in the world; she's branched out into design with Ipanema by Gisele Bündchen and Gisele Bündchen intimates, and even dipped into acting with The Devil Wears Prada. Gisele has shown that becoming a successful model is so much more than just runways and campaign cameos — which is good news for her fans, because she'll have other areas of the business to pursue. As she summed it up perfectly to the Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo, "Stopping will leave room for other projects I have for myself.” We can't wait to see what's next.

The best EVER! #colcci #SPFW

A video posted by Colcci (@colccioficial) on

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