Videos: Top 10 Lingerie Models

For several generations of young men, in the pre-internet stone age, our first glance of a woman in her skivvies was through the heaven-sent lingerie catalogs that magically appeared in our mailboxes every Christmas. In the very early days, these catalogs utilized well-rendered drawings of women in their knickers, but with time a new breed of model emerged: the lingerie model. What began as under-the-counter contraband in the days when Bettie Page could be seen getting spanked by another gal while both wearing underwear from Frederick’s of Hollywood has now become a prime-time TV event: The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

In honor of these catalog and runway goddesses, here are the top 10 modern lingerie models…

Alessandra Ambrosio

Ranked in the top 10 of AskMen’s Top 99 Most Desirable Women in ’08 and ’09, Alessandra Ambrosio is clearly a readers’ favorite. This Brazilian bombshell began her modeling career at the age of 15, and first gained prominence as the face of the millennium GUESS? ad campaign. Ambrosio began her association with Victoria’s Secret with her first appearance in the brand’s 2000 fashion show. Four years later, she was contracted as an official “Angel,” and became the first spokesmodel for the VS “Pink” line. She made her biggest splash, though, on the Victoria’s Secret runway when she walked in the 2008 show mere months after giving birth. Incredible.

Dita Von Teese

When we say lingerie model, two names immediately spring to mind: Victoria and Dita. Dita Von Teese began her career stripping at the age of 18. She soon moved on into fetish and glamour modeling, emulating the earlier work of the now ubiquitous postcard maven Bettie Page. Von Teese really made a name for herself in the world of burlesque performance and quickly became the face of an increasingly popular burlesque scene in America. She came to mainstream prominence after marrying shock-rocker Marilyn Manson. Von Teese has since appeared in shows at Paris and Milan fashion weeks, on the cover of Vanity FairVogueand Elle, and even had a guest spot on America’s Next Top Model — usually sporting some form of lingerie or another.

Eva Mendes

This Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans star may only have one true lingerie campaign to her name, but it was memorable enough to put her in our top 10. In 2008, Mendes became the official face of Calvin Klein’s Seductive Comfort line of lingerie, and no doubt this was the main factor that lead her to being named No.1 on our Top 99 Women the following year. Judging by the sexy print campaigns and even sexier commercials, Eva Mendes more than earns this spot among the greatest modern lingerie models.

Marisa Miller

Marisa Miller’s rise to the top of the modeling world happened quickly. After posing for photographer Mario Testino and appearing in both American and Italian Vogue, Miller found herself on the fast track to stardom, with contracts from Victoria’s Secret and appearances in theSports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. In 2009, she was also tapped by Victoria’s Secret to wear the $3-million “Fantasy Bra” at that year’s fashion show.

Tyra Banks

Lately, with her irritating hosting turns on America’s Next Top Model and The Tyra Banks Show, Banks’ lack of appeal defies her beauty. But we only have to think back a few years to when Tyra Banks was as sexy as they came — back in theFresh Prince days, when she was a trailblazer for black models, being the first to appear on the covers of both GQand the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. Tyra Banks also holds a unique spot in the history of lingerie modeling: She was the first black model to appear on the cover of the Victoria’s Secret catalog.

Heidi Klum

Heidi Klum began her career with Victoria’s Secret in 1997, and went on to be one of the brand’s most recognizable spokesmodels. She’s hosted four of the top-rated Victoria’s Secret TV specials and continues to do catalog and runway work for the celebrated lingerie brand. She may be the executive producer and uber-severe host of the Peabody Award-winning reality hit Project Runway, but it’s Klum’s sense of humor that makes her special in our books. The costumes she chooses for her annual Halloween party are always a scream.

Karolina Kurkova

A lingerie model with no bellybutton? Well, Karolina Kurkova’s absent navel can easily be explained by the fact that she’s clearly not of this Earth. Her incomparable beauty and renowned work ethic are why, at the age of 16, Kurkova was tapped for her first Victoria’s Secret fashion show. Over a decade later, her career is still going strong, and she’s parlaying her modeling success into a burgeoning acting career beginning with a role in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

Adriana Lima

Adriana Lima’s face and body are synonymous with the Victoria’s Secret brand. First contracted as an Angel in 2000, Lima has gone on to open the 2003, 2007 and 2008Victoria’s Secret Fashion Shows. In 2003, she appeared alongside Bob Dylan in the hotly debated “Angel in Venice” ad (maybe Dylan’s most controversial career move since going electric). Lima also holds the distinction of appearing in another Victoria’s Secret commercial that was seen by 103.7 million viewers during Super Bowl XLII. As a spokesmodel for the BioFit Uplift Bra, the Miracle Bra and after wearing the $5 million “Fantasy Bra” at the 2008 VS fashion show, this Brazilian beauty became the de facto ambassador of bras.

Kate Moss

What can we say about one of the most successful models in history? She’s not particularly tall, like the other women on this list. Nor is she curvaceous like all of the Victoria’s Secret Angels. Perhaps that why Agent Provocateur was so keen  on using Kate Moss as the face of their lingerie brand — she is something apart from all the shimmering glitz of Victoria’s Secret, but no less glamorous.

Gisele Bundchen

According to Forbes, Gisele Bundchen has been the top-earning model in the world for the past six years. Unlike Banks and Klum, Bundchen remains a true model: Aside from the casual television or film cameo, her career rests firmly entrenched in runway and campaign work. Her contract with Victoria’s Secret is believed to be the largest single modeling contract in the entire fashion industry. In terms of lingerie models, you don’t get bigger or better than Gisele Bundchen.

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