Jasmine Tookes has spent a good portion of the last year draped in $3 million worth of diamonds and emeralds, trailed by a security guard, and jetting from New York to Paris and back again. Christened a Victoria's Secret Angel in 2015, last year she rocketed to the pinnacle of lingerie model-dom when she was chosen by the brand to don its jeweled "Fantasy Bra"—which is a very big deal, thank you very much. It's like going from rookie to MVP in just two seasons, and Tookes is elated.
The fact that she's only the third black model to score that honor—after Tyra Banks and Selita Ebanks—is icing on the cake. When she heard she'd been chosen to wear the pricey undergarment, she cried. "It's the first time in over a decade [this has happened]. A lot of my followers are African-American girls, and they're excited. It encourages them and gives them hope...If you want to go for something, go for it."
It's a philosophy that's guided Tookes since she was a child in Huntington Beach, California, where her mother was a well-known celebrity stylist. From the beginning, Tookes was dead-set on the runways of New York and Europe. "I was always immersed in the world of fashion. Some girls will say, 'Oh, I wanted to be a doctor,' but all I ever wanted to do was model. I would do fashion shows for my mom. I was always her little assistant on shoots, helping her out. I'm such a girly girl."
She's also a consummate professional, detailing the "sisterhood" she shares with fellow Angels (and Maxim cover models) Elsa Hosk and Romee Strijd, and insisting that she's unruffled by the occasional hater on social media (like the one last fall who accused the model of lightening her skin to break into the mainstream). At the time, Tookes took to social media to exclaim: "Are you kidding me?! Who in the world does that? First of all. Lighting is everything and not to mention I'm way darker in the summer and much lighter towards the winter. My skin tone changes all the time just like everyone else."
Today, she says, "I try not to read the comments. But people are bullied all the time, which I feel strongly about, so if something is out there, I'm going to address it. But really I'm all about women's empowerment and making women feel beautiful and strong. I'm glad I can be someone that young girls can look up to."
Check out Tookes' ultra-fit physique, the product of enviable genes and a youth spent playing volleyball and so ball, and it's clear that strong is an understatement. But she's also unabashedly feminine. She goes for clothes by designers like Tom Ford ("so chic and sexy"), spends nights of catching up on Real Housewives, and likes an unapologetically fancy date. "I think I'm a romantic person. I like to wear lingerie and be sexy but at the same time I'm such a goofball. I like to be out on the town. My perfect date night would be wearing a cute dress, having my makeup done, going out to a Broadway show or something out of the ordinary and over the top."
Until recently, Tookes' love life was out in the open. Her ex-boyfriend is model Tobias Sorensen; the pair met at a club and were soon shot together for Calvin Klein's ultra-sexy 2015 Eternity Now fragrance campaign. Last year, the couple was rumored to have split, but when I ask about Tookes' relationship status, her spokesman jumps in: "Let's just keep that private for now."
Tookes isn't saying who she's donning lingerie for these days. But mostly, she's an open book. "What you see is what you get with me. I think everyone kind of knows everything about me...I'm not one way at work and one way in my private life. I like to be crazy and funny, and then I love the glamour."
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