Candice Swanepoel Talks Denim, the '90s and Supermodels Past and Future

The model celebrated her collaboration with Mother in New York on Tuesday.
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Alyssa Vingan Klein
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The model celebrated her collaboration with Mother in New York on Tuesday.
Swanepoel wearing a pair of jeans from her Mother collaboration. Photo: Billy Farrell Agency

Swanepoel wearing a pair of jeans from her Mother collaboration. Photo: Billy Farrell Agency

Candice Swanepoel's schedule is pretty packed this time of year. While you can usually spot her walking the runway for the likes of Prabal Gurung, Alexander Wang, Marc Jacobs and many more, she's reversed her role a bit this season. Instead of showing off another designer's clothing, she is presenting her own. 

The model just unveiled her first denim line in collaboration with the Los Angeles-based label Mother, which includes seven '90s-inspired styles in light, vintage washes. The proceeds from Swanepoel's collection will benefit mothers2mothers, a non-profit organization based in the model's native South Africa that aims to stop the spread of HIV from mothers to their babies.

To celebrate her first turn as a designer, Swanepoel hosted a cocktail party at Locande Verde in Tribeca on Tuesday night, and as Fashionista's resident fangirl, I had to stop by and get the scoop on her collection — as well as its Russell James-shot look book. "The first picture that I came to for inspiration was Cindy Crawford in the Pepsi commercial — the one where the little kids are watching her. She gets out of the car and you can tell she’s not trying at all but looks super hot," Swanepoel says. "I was also inspired by a lot of Drew Barrymore’s old looks, when she had platinum hair and a dark lip and eyebrows. Some Karen Mulder inspiration — there’s so many gorgeous ‘90s denim images. Cindy Crawford in the old Calvin Klein campaigns, too."

The retro inspiration is clear throughout the collection, and (unsurprisingly) the silhouettes are quite bombshell-friendly. "My favorite ones are the high-waisted — that’s my go-to jean," the model explained. "I looked at all of my jeans that I love and basically perfected them. What was most important was the wash: I wanted them to look really vintage. My favorite pairs are the ones I’ve worn out, so much that my friends are like, ‘Damn, you need some new jeans!’ People make a lot of fake-looking ones, and I didn’t want that."

If you couldn't tell, Swanepoel is a big fan of fashion's current '90s revival, and much of her personal wardrobe is inspired by the decade. Aside from denim, she says that she lives for a good choker and loves wearing bodysuits instead of t-shirts. While we're on the topic of tees, her collection includes a cheeky one that reads, "I Want to Swim in the Swanepoel" (which I will 100% be wearing during Fashion Week, by the way), which is a more polished version of a bootleg tee her friend wore to visit her at a Victoria's Secret shoot in Paris. "He opened his jacket and he was wearing a t-shirt that said it — he’d just bought the letters and ironed them on, and I thought it was f*cking genius," she says. "Some people have laughed at me, but I said that if I am going to do a jeans line, I am going to make it cute and unique to me."

While her line was inspired by supermodels of the past, Swanepoel already has a few ideas about who the Cindy Crawfords of the future might be — including a young stunner who counts Swanepoel as one of her role models: Gigi Hadid. "[Hadid] is definitely one of the girls that I see that I think is going to be huge. The fact that she has so much experience with modeling from when she was a kid — you can see when someone is natural in front of the camera. She’s super bubbly and she’s got a great, full body. She’s exquisite." Could there be a future collaboration in the works for these two blonde beauties? We'll just have to wait and see.

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