Island Life | Raquel Zimmermann on Brazil and Brooklyn
The model Raquel Zimmermann recently visited the island of Fernando de Noronha in Brazil for a shoot with T. Here, she dishes about life in Brooklyn, her love for moqueca (a traditional fish stew) and what to play if you want to get her dancing.
Years modeling: 13
Her Fernando de Noronha favorite: “There was this tiny restaurant called Tricolore owned by a husband and wife. She made the most delicious homemade moqueca I’ve ever had! The name Tricolore is in honor of the fútbol team’s three-colored flags, which is why they have so many flags up on the walls.”
The set on set: “Music is extremely important to have on photo shoots — it brings the mood. In FdN my favorite song was ‘Barbra Streisand’ by Duck Sauce. It just kept our energy going on and on. But I grew up dancing to samba music and Latin tunes. My favorite Brazilian music is by Caetano Veloso and Marisa Monte.”
Hello, Brooklyn: “I love living in Brooklyn. Originally I moved there because I could enjoy a bigger space for less money than I would ever get in Manhattan. Because I left home at 14 and had to learn to take care of myself, I didn’t have anyone to rely on for financial support and I only had very few people I could turn to for emotional support. But Brooklyn’s tight sense of community — especially in the neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Greenpoint — helped to support me in a sense. The cultural mixtures in Brooklyn are in a small way similar to how Brazilians live and something that I probably, subconsciously, sought out.”
Environmentalist at heart: “I support the Surfrider Foundation, which is focused on protecting the oceans and beaches. I also recycle and use mass transit, ride my bike as often as I can, or I walk, which is one of the best parts about living in New York City.”
If she weren’t modeling: “I’d be a student traveling the world.”
Being here now: “I’ve spent the past two years studying meditation and learning to be more in the present moment, so that’s my focus. I have no idea where I’ll be in 20 years — but hopefully we’ll be able to catch up!”
The Full Brazilian
Raquel Zimmermann’s blond hair and blue eyes do not, for most people, immediately say Brazil. But the model who has been the face of brands like Lanvin, McQueen and Shiseido arrived on the fashion scene from Bom Retiro do Sul, a small town in the south of the country, where boatloads of German immigrants began arriving in the 1800s. (Zimmermann’s hometown is not too far from that of Gisele Bündchen, and it’s easy to imagine that the two women share a similar gene pool.) The region is so Teutonic, in fact, that her parents now live in a city called Novo Hamburgo, a Bavarian-seeming burg where many of the old buildings are made of timber.
Because Zimmermann wasn’t raised steeped in samba and coconut water, it came as a surprise when she suggested the Brazilian archipelago of Fernando de Noronha as the place she’d like to go to shoot resort wear. “I figured it was probably time to start exploring my own country,” says the lanky beauty, who has seen plenty of the rest of the world in her 13 years in front of the camera. About as close to Senegal as it is to Saõ Paulo, Noronha is one of the few places on the planet that strikes the right balance between tourist destination and nature preserve, limiting visitors to about 700 a day and strictly overseeing development. It’s a fact that was not lost on Zimmermann, whose obvious pride in her country and boundless curiosity — in her spare time she surfs, meditates and does yoga — was positively contagious. Over two days spent tooling around in dune buggies, the island’s usual mode of transportation, she was hard to keep up with. She navigated across bumpy roads, took to the sea on a tiny fishing boat, hiked over treacherous terrain, chased after lizards, frolicked on hot, burning beaches and put away bowl after bowl of moqueca, the traditional Brazilian fish stew. And when she learned that there was a famous cave on the island called Buraco da Raquel, literally Raquel’s hole, she squealed with delight: “We have to go there!”