Victoria's Secret model Candice Swanepoel poses for photographers with the Royal Fantasy Bra gift set, valued at $10 million during a photo opportunity at the Victoria's Secret store in New York City, November 6, 2013. Designed by Mouawad the set is adorned with over 4,200 precious gems featuring a pear shaped center ruby weighing 52 carats. The set will be worn by Swanepoel during the Victoria's Secret Fashion show in New York on December 10. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: FASHION ENTERTAINMENT)

While supermodel Candice Swanepoel was being praised for her performance in a lingerie TV show watched by millions this week, a KwaZulu-Natal modelling agency was bemoaning the fact that it has not received credit for discovering her.

Irene Olivier, of Irene’s Models in Pietermaritzburg, says her agency was the first to discover the bombshell but that this has been overlooked.

“I’m very proud to say that I discovered Candice at St Anne’s Diocesan College in Hilton in 2003 when I did a talk at the school in connection with starting modelling courses,” said Olivier.

This is contrary to the story that Swanepoel was discovered by a scout in a Durban flea market 10 years ago.

“No, I saw her at the school for the first time,” said Olivier.

“She… said she would love to do our course and I soon realised she had a lot of potential and asked her to sign a contract with Irene’s Models while she was still doing her course.

“This she did, and Candice was from that point forward a contracted model with Irene’s Models.”

Swanepoel and her team were not available for comment at the time of going to print.

This week Olivier, who has been running her agency for 27 years, took pride in showing pictures of a gangly 14-year-old Swanepoel when she started her career.

Olivier, who has four models competing in the Miss SA competition this year, also provided an invoice for when Swanepoel was paid for a show she did for Fashion TV, and her entry form for the 2003 Pietermaritzburg Model of the Year competition, which she won.

The Mooi River-born model has gone from there to being one of the world’s highest-paid models and one of the leading “angels” in the Victoria’s Secret fashion show.

“I’m very happy and proud to say that I was the very first person to discover, train and shoot her first portfolio,” said Olivier.

Taryn Wood, who competed in the 2003 competition, said she vividly remembered an extremely bubbly and friendly Swanepoel.

“She was very helpful and friendly, which is rarely heard of in the modelling industry,” said Wood.

 

This was supposedly the time when she was seen by a scout who signed her and catapulted her to supermodel stardom.

Olivier said: “I had just entered into discussions with a reputable Cape Town agency with strong links to international agencies in order to try and… develop Candice’s career further.”

This week Swanepoel took centre stage at the Victoria’s Secret show, dazzling in the show-stopper piece, the Royal Fantasy Bra. According to Victoria’s Secret, the bra has 4 200 rubies and is worn by only the luckiest of angels.

 

Olivier said she harboured no ill feeling towards Swanepoel and wished her the best. “Candice continues to be a role model and inspiration for all the young girls and boys at Irene’s Models,” she said. - The Independent on Saturday