A Decade of Adriana Lima©

Posted by: Andrew Richard on Dec 31 2002, at 08:40:30

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Adriana Lima
Adriana Age 15

What makes a model a supermodel and who decides when she is a supermodel?

Well you make them supermodels.

The photo at left you are now looking at is of Brazilian born model Adriana Lima when she was 15 years old...

Adriana is someone I met just a few days after she got off her flight in JFK airport. That was now many years ago. I met her at a Ford model party.

I photographed her then as I knew she would certainly be big in a short while. I dont know why I thought that but I did.

It was nearly six months until I met her again. This time her moms best friend approached me, she remembered me from the last Ford party.

She assumed I was a famous photographer. I was not... I was just a regular fashion photographer.

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I assumed Adriana was a regular girl. She was not... She was about to become one of the greatest supermodels in the world.

She said that Adriana would like to meet me and I offered her a few minutes of my time (no charge). We talked and I thought... She is going to make it. I am sure of this. She has a look thats not what I would call perfect ...But very Ford. Very celebrity. Very up and coming. And she is out there getting noticed and introducing herself, as shy as she was.

I photographed Adriana every chance I could. I met with her time to time backstage at fashion shows during the season, and ocassionally ran into her on the streets just walking around with her friends. Once backstage while at a runway show with another photographer (Gavin Giles) we started talking about her and we both agreed she was the best in the show. 

She could barely speak English... but she had something special which made me want to spend time with her.

Adriana Lima
Adriana Age 16

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Adriana Lima
Adriana Age 17

I knew every single time I saw her she would be a well known model someday. So what I am reading here is history in the making folks.

If you watch her, and look for her in the magazines you will see more and more of her every season. Little by little she will become a very famous and wealthy girl... Watch and see if I'm right.

Well months passed and I hadn't heard from Adriana or anyone from Ford... I was walking down the street... Thinking about young models who come to NY to follow their modeling dreams and ambitions.

They are almost always caught up in the nightlife before they get their first job.

Months and thousands of dollars later so many turn back for home broke, discouraged, tired and broke... I wondered though which of the thousands of hopeful models in NY would actually make it... I wondered if I knew any of them.

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I thought to myself how cool it would be if I had photographed someone before they were famous...  I walked passed the MTV building on Broadway and Times Square thinking in the traffic and noise. At that very moment it hit me.

I looked up and there was a Times Square billboard of Adriana Lima for Vassarette.

That face... I knew immediately who it was. That image just hit me over the head. She had really made it now... Just two years after getting off her filght from Sao Paolo Brazil, there she was looking down at me from a billboard above the world.

At least five million people walked past her face... Maybe fifty milllion... Few of them know her name, her story, her hopes, ambitions or dreams...

They dont know how Ford works, or who she is, and most people don't really care. I know her story... and you know it as well. You will see this girl famous on the runways, in the press, in the catalogs, and out on the streets for many years to come.

Adriana Lima
Adriana Age 18

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Adriana Lima
Adriana Lima Age 19
After just finishing another fashion season a month or two ago, I can tell you that Adriana is on more runways than any other model in NY today. That includes all the supermodels you know by name.

The story you just read began in 1999 at the first Ford party, continue into a backstage shot from 2 years ago, then a runway shot from the same evening, followed by a catwalk shot for Carmen Marc Valvo Spring 2000 and then her Vasarette Billboard in Times Square. I again updated it in 2009.

Who decides when a model is huge? Me, you, and all of us. We made Adriana a supermodel by talking about her, posting her photos, and by looking up at her billboard in Times Square.

You Can Do It !

Good Days To Ya...
Andrew Richard

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