A shy teenager, Elite’s Michelle Alves’ life was turned upside down when her parents suggested a beauty pageant to improve her confidence. She didn’t win but confidence hasn’t been much of an issue since. Still, with years of experience and over 100 magazine covers under her belt, Alves didn’t find it hard to choose her favorite photo. Then again who wouldn’t love their first cover of Vogue Italia with Steven Meisel?
Why do you love it? I’ve taken so many great photos after this one, but I still have a special relationship with this cover. First, it really does reflect a lot of who I am. It’s a sexy yet chic woman, very Seventies and mysterious — I like to think that I still have some mysteries to be discovered/ revealed; and then the hair on the eye does it. It’s the final touch! I knew when I took that picture that my entire career would change. That all of what I wished for would now happen.
Who took it?The amazing Steven Meisel (art+commerce), with hair by Orlando Pita (art+commerce) and makeup by Pat McGrath (Streeters). Lori Goldstein (IMG) was the stylist.
What were you thinking when it was taken? What direction did the photographer give you? I was so happy for that opportunity and very grateful. I couldn’t believe that it was happening! I had travelled 24 hours from the Maldives, passing through Singapore and Tokyo, to get to Los Angeles on time. I was exhausted but excited. Steven simply asked me which profile I liked best, so we did two clicks of my favorite profile and one of the other side. Then he said, “We got it!” and the rest is history!How long was the shoot? The entire shoot was a twelve page story for Italian Vogue and it lasted 8 hours, a regular working day. That’s how Steven works, always done by 5pm — no matter what. How were you discovered? I was invited by the local newspaper –- I’m from Londrina, in Brazil — to be in a beauty pageant in the state’s Country Fair to choose the Queen of the Fair. Because I was such a shy teenager, my parents thought that it would be a great way for me to loosen up, so I entered but didn’t win the crown. I was however, chosen Miss Congeniality after that that I went to São Paulo and visited a few of the modeling agencies. I was sent to participate in a second contest, Elite Model Look and I was the second runner up in Brazil. Then I went to Paris immediately after that — from then on there was no turning back!