Gisele Bündchen Felt 'Lucky' to Land First “Vogue” Cover at 18 amid 'Heroin Chic' Trend: 'Return of the Sexy Model'

Bündchen keeps a copy of the magazine, which came out in July 1999, in her Miami home

<p>Vogue/YouTube</p> Gisele Bundchen with her first Vogue cover


Gisele Bundchen with her first Vogue cover

Gisele Bündchen may be a fashion fixture now, but in her early days, that wasn't always the case.

Bündchen, 43, was always a bombshell, but in the '90s, that wasn't necessarily the look that sold. So when she landed her first Vogue cover in 1999 at age 18, it was a very big deal. That's why she has a copy of the magazine in her Miami home as a treasured keepsake.

"This is very special to me," she says of the magazine in an "Objects of Affection" video with Vogue released on April 2. She admits she hasn't looked at it in over 20 years, but she still seems in awe while holding it.

Related: Gisele Bündchen Pulls Off Her Fiercest Pose in a Plunging Leopard-Print Swimsuit: See the Look

"I was 18 when I shot it. We were at the park in New York. It was Steven Meisel," she says, before adding that she wasn't actually guaranteed the cover when she showed up to the set that day. "I was like, 'Oh my God, this is amazing.' The biggest thing you could do as a model, you know, to be on an American Vogue cover. So this was the beginning of everything and it was the time of the heroin chic so it was a very important moment because this was the cover and it was 'The Return of the Sexy Model,' which was, I never considered myself sexy, but I was very happy that they chose me to represent this moment."

She also shot a nude for inside the magazine with photographer Irving Penn with the headline 'The Return of the Curve.' Bündchen calls it the "new era" of fashion.

"I was just so lucky that I guess I was at the right place at the right time because I was not working very much on the heroin chic era, let's put it that way," she says.

Bündchen adds that the magazine was released on her 19th birthday in July 1999, which made for an extra special birthday gift and it helped launch her career into the stratosphere.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up to date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

<p>Jason Koerner/Getty</p> Gisele Bundchen at Miami event in December 2023

Jason Koerner/Getty

Gisele Bundchen at Miami event in December 2023

Related: Gisele Bündchen Was Told She'd Never Be on a Magazine Cover as a Young Model: 'They Said My Nose Was Too Big and My Eyes Were Too Small'

The Nourish cookbook author left her home in Brazil when he was just 14 to start her career, and while speaking at an event last summer, she got emotional while reflecting on those early days and how tough it was to leave her family behind to start a new life.

At a VTEX event in São Paulo in June, "Gisele teared up on stage when they were talking about her early career,” a source close to Bündchen told PEOPLE. “She still gets emotional when she thinks about leaving her family and her sisters. She was only 14 years old and she went off to start a new life, a new career. She left everything she knew behind.”

According to local media in São Paulo, Bündchen got emotional talking about wanting to leave a better world for her kids and to make her parents proud. "You can do anything if you believe in yourself and your dreams," she told the audience in Portuguese.

"Everything is possible when we believe, and I am no different from you. I am simply a person who believed," she added. 

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.