Victoria’s Secret’s longest-running Angel and a Miami resident, Adriana Lima elegantly balances her roles as single mother, spiritual seeker, independent woman, and the world’s most beautiful model.
Top ($1,050) and shorts ($595), Miu Miu. Miami Design District, 190 NE 39th St., 305-341-9342
Say the name Adriana Lima to anyone remotely fashion-savvy and you’ll get the same instantaneous response: “I love her!” Indeed, what’s not to love about the 5-foot-10 blue-eyed brunette and self-proclaimed Afro-Brazilian Gemini?
“I’m a one-of-a-kind Gemini, I think,” Lima tells me with the same signature head tilt and sexy stare that have been front and center on countless magazine covers and in myriad fan fantasies. That’s not even mentioning the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, for which Lima has been an Angel for 17 years. She sat it out only in 2009 while pregnant with her oldest daughter, Valentina (whose father is former NBA star Marko Jaric, Lima’s ex-husband). Motherhood didn’t stop her three years later, though, when just two months after giving birth to her second daughter, Sienna (also with Jaric), Lima made jaws drop by reclaiming both her six-pack and the catwalk.
And she’s not stopping at the age of 35. Or as a single mother. “My goal is to do the fashion show till I’m 40, at least,” Lima confesses in her exotic accent, looking out at the crystal-clear horizon and skyline of Miami—the place she calls home. “Or [as long as] gravity is on my side,” she adds, not considering the obvious: that after being named the second-highest-paid model in the world by Forbes in 2016 and Victoria’s Secret’s “most valuable Angel” by the analytics firm D’Marie this January, she’s got more than gravity and lingerie supporting her.
Pullover ($1,275) and shorts ($690), Tomas Maier. Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-351-9560
Perhaps it was fate that had her enter (and serendipitously win) Ford Models’ Supermodel of Brazil contest as a camera-shy tween doing a favor for a friend who didn’t want to compete alone. Though Lima might not agree. “I make my destiny,” she says. “Everything is in the power of your mind. If you think positive, you attract the things that you want in your life.”
Mental power coupled with unmatched genes must be why virtually every guy wants to marry her and every girl wants to be her. Linked to the likes of (former fiancé) Lenny Kravitz and her current flame, Super Bowl hero Julian Edelman, Lima has had countless men (and probably women) fall in love at first sight.
“There are different forms of love—you cannot generalize it,” she says. When I ask if she has ever been truly, madly, deeply in love, Lima smiles wide with her mouth and eyes. “I’m in love every day. I wake up and have two beautiful girls before me whose happiness is my happiness.”
Dress, Dolce & Gabbana ($1,845). Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-866-0503
The angelic creature isn't just responsible for the happiness of her own two little girls either, but for children in Haiti, Brazil, and beyond. After visiting Haiti for a campaign shoot and falling in love with its people and culture, Lima turned her philanthropic efforts towards St. Luke Foundation and hospital, which gives expecting mothers access to medical services and education to lesser-served Haitian communities. And in her hometown of Salvador, Brazil, her kind heart and fashion sense has impacted the lives of numerous orphans from Caminhos da Luz, which thanks to her charitable and helping hand was able to expand in construction and buys clothes for kids in Bahia. Surprised much? You shouldn't be seeing that if she weren't a top model today, Lima would be a pediatrician. "I love children. Spending time with them makes me happy."
An only child raised by a single mother (her dad left when she was just six months old), Lima grew up a devout Roman Catholic, going to church every Sunday. As a matter of fact, before altering her path and moving from Brazil to New York City, where she signed with Elite Model Management, she wanted to be a nun—a far cry from the globally recognized Angel she’s become. But that doesn’t stop her from bringing a Bible to read backstage before shows, praying, or “going to church every day,” although she’s not talking about your typical chapel. “The church is in me—I always connect,” she says. “If you’re connected with the divine and always have pure intentions with everything you’re doing, you’re protected by the angels.” Not lingerie-clad, stiletto-wearing angels, but otherworldly time-and-space-bending beings. “I’m very spiritual. I believe in nature, I believe in energy, I believe in spirits.”
Cropped tank ($295), pants ($465), and rope belt ($395), Sportmax. Miami Design District, 109 NE 39th St., 305-770-6200; maxmara.com. Clogs, Miu Miu ($990). Miami Design District, 190 NE 39th St., 305-341-9342
Something else she believes in: aliens. “I don’t picture them as, like, coming to get me or abducting humans,” she says. “I imagine they maybe look like us but with a higher intelligence and connection to the universe.” Extraterrestrials aside, she also has a place (or more like a shrine) in her bedroom for her crystals. “I don’t count, but I have a lot—more than 50.” Amethyst, in case you’re wondering, is her favorite. In other words, Lima is pretty cosmically connected. But she’s grounded, too—even with 9.8 million Instagram followers and the distinction of being the only celebrity to ever star in two Super Bowl commercials in one game, for Kia Motors and the online flower service Teleflora, in 2012. How did she earn such an honor? Simply put, consumers want whatever Lima is wearing—or selling. Case in point: Sales of Kia’s Optima reached their highest point in the company’s history after it received Lima’s stamp of approval. It’s safe to say that anything the bankable beauty touches turns to gold.
“If you’re connected with the divine and always have pure intentions with everything you’re doing, you’re protected by the angels.”
So just how does Lima—who has been included in Maxim magazine’s Hot 100, AskMen.com’s Most Desirable Women, Models.com’s Top Sexiest Models, Complex.com’s 100 Hottest Supermodels of All Time, and FHM’s Sexiest Women in the World (four times); has won Spike’s Guys Choice award for Hottest Girl on the Planet; and is one of Google’s 50 most-searched-for women on the Web—stay grounded when she’s pulling in a reported $10.5 million a year and a regular day at the office (like today) involves shooting at a $30 million manse with Victoria’s Secret photographer and dear friend Russell James? “My meditation is boxing, believe it or not,” she says. “I get so into it that no thoughts come in my mind. It’s my Zen moment.” Of course, a knockout like Lima trains only with the best, and in the ring that’s at the same world-famous Miami Beach gym where Muhammad Ali became the greatest, Angelo Dundee’s 5th St. Gym.
“I try to box every day,” Lima says, “but these past few days I’ve been bad.” By “bad,” she means she’s been trading her gloves for a spoon and molten chocolate cake. “It’s my guilty pleasure. If it were up to me, I would have it three times a day.” She’s not joking, either: In the middle of her Ocean Drive cover shoot, Lima got a hankering for chocolate bars to nibble on between outfits. “I eat everything,” she says, “but at the same time, I’m super healthy.” Healthy is as easy as cake when you have an on-call nutritionist and a personal chef to whip you up whatever your heart desires. “The best restaurant in Miami, I have to say, is my home.”
Home for Lima is where she feels closest to her native Brazil. And for the last five years, that’s been the Magic City. “I wanted to find a base where it was always summer, always nice and welcoming, with warm people and a beautiful ocean,” she says. “I just fell in love with Miami. Plus, there are so many Brazilians here, too, so I feel like I’m in Brazil.” If you’re hoping for a supermodel sighting, hit the Arts District. “I love to go walk the streets and Wynwood Walls and look at art.”
Good luck recognizing her, though. “I’m pretty low-key when I’m walking around—I think because people are used to seeing me with makeup and hair and in lingerie.” She laughs, adding, “I usually don’t wear any makeup and [have] my hair up, and I’m always in sports clothes, especially with my kids.” At least when she’s not rocking Victoria’s Secret’s million-dollar Fantasy Bra, an honor she’s had not once but twice.
Top ($2,990) and skirt ($2,890), Oscar de la Renta. Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-868-7986
“It’s a really special thing for an Angel to wear the Fantasy Bra,” Lima says. “It’s the highlight of the fashion show and a surprise. All of us [Angels] are always wondering, Who is it going to be this year?” “Kind of like being named prom queen?” I ask, forgetting that she’s a foreigner. “I’m not sure what a prom queen is, because we don’t have that in Brazil, so maybe you have to wear the Fantasy Bra first before you can say it’s just like that,” she answers, sassily and unapologetically. And in this moment, I grasp who Adriana Lima really is. She’s an independent, second-generation badass single mom who has never let the millions of dollars and accolades she sunbathes in cloud her values or stop her from articulating her religious and spiritual beliefs. She’s simply irresistible while still being innocent yet seductive. And she’s a true role model to her kids, who “understand mommy is a model, but also a businesswoman,” she says—an Angel disguised in lingerie who serves “not just girls [I work with] but the world we live in. I have a lot of energy to expend.”
Where does she get it all from? Girl power runs in her family. “It comes from my mom and my grandmother. Even though my grandmother was married forever—over 50 years!—she was still an independent woman, and seeing how she carried herself made me who I am.” Lucky for us, Lima’s not done passing on her genes: “I always wanted a lot of children. I’m not finished yet.”
In June she’ll be 36, and this December she’ll again walk in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, maybe even wearing the Fantasy Bra for a third time—that is, unless fate intervenes and makes her Mother Lima for a third time instead.
Photography by Russell James. Styling by Katherine Lande with Creative Management. Hair by Steven Hoeppner at artistsbytimothypriano.com. Makeup by Taryll Atkins at artistsbytimothypriano.com. Manicure by Isis Antelo at artistsbytimothypriano.com. Shot on location at Casa Clara, 212 W. Dilido Dr., Miami Beach, 305-673- 4808; elliman.com. Catering provided by Michael Love at Epicure Gourmet Market and Cafe, 1656 Alton Road, Miami Beach, 305-672-1861; epicuremarket.com. Distinctive design executed flawlessly: With an uninterrupted view of Biscayne Bay and the downtown Miami skyline, Casa Clara is the perfect place to enjoy the vibrant sunsets. Architecturally significant, this property boasts seven beds, nine baths, two half baths, 11,600 square feet, 120 feet of water frontage, and a full limestone deck. Interiors are integrated with exteriors through large glass doors that disappear when open. Custom Henge furniture, a Boffi kitchen, and Kreon lighting shows the home’s individual palate. Casa Clara is represented by Douglas Elliman Florida agents Eloy Carmenate and Mick Duchon.