Five-foot-eleven German supermodels are seldom described as “relatable.” Still, the word enters my head when thumbing through Lorena Rae’s Instagram. Her pictures seem to be mostly candids, not the work of illustrious photographers. The fresh-faced brunette with the eye-popping figure may be the only model with nearly two million followers who frequently posts photos of herself smiling, not smizing. And what a smile it is.
At 25 years old, Rae has modeled for brands like Versace and Hugo Boss. She has been on the covers of Grazia Italy, Grazia Australia and Vogue Taiwan. Her most famous coup came in 2018, when she walked the runway of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. “I am very proud to have walked the Victoria’s Secret runway, so I am really sad to see it go,” she tells Maxim of the annual show’s recent cancellation. “Preparing and getting ready for the casting was definitely a big deal and a really motivating goal to work towards.”
Rae is showing signs of long-term stardom. She still models for Victoria’s Secret and is the face of its Bombshell Paradise fragrance. Still, fashion is notoriously fickle, and the brand holds less sway than it did in the days of Gisele Bündchen. Despite the unpredictability of her profession however, Rae is as cool as her sapphire blue eyes. “I believe in taking everything at my own pace,” she says. “It’s easy to look around and compare yourself to what everyone else is doing and get wrapped up in the idea of ‘this is what I’m supposed to be doing too,’” she adds. “You should stay present and focused and enjoy where you are at now.”
Although comfortable at the top, Rae has humble beginnings. She grew up in a small town in northwestern Germany, where runways, swimwear shoots, and dates with Hollywood actors were not on her radar. She claims she was shy as a kid, a characteristic that likely diminished in front of the camera. When I ask about her upbringing, her people send me an assortment of childhood photographs, one of them a portrait of her posing with a red hibiscus flower.
She’s a natural. When I tell her that I read she had learned English by watching American television, she responds, “That’s true! I obviously started learning English in school, but I became really good at it while watching Gossip Girl and The Vampire Diaries.” English may not be her first language, but Lorena Rae is candid about a range of topics. Here, she tells Maxim about her early days as a model, her recent safari in Kenya, and her girl crush on Gisele.
How does it feel to be on the cover of Maxim?
To be on the cover of Maxim is an absolute honor. If I look at all the incredible women who were on the cover before me, it is quite hard to believe that I get to be next in line. I’ve always been obsessed with Irina Shayk and Sara Sampaio’s covers and actually had the exact pictures on my goal-mood board for a very long time. Manifestation is a thing!
Tell us about growing up in Germany. What were you like as a kid?
I am a very big family person and loved growing up in a small town with my family. Even though you might not see it today, as a kid I was very shy. I always needed my mom to speak for me at the supermarket or even at doctor’s appointments. I’ll never forget the first flight I had to take for a job abroad when I was 18. My dad had to drop me off at the airport, check in my luggage, and explain to me every single detail so I would calm down—and actually start this journey by myself and step out of my comfort zone. This industry taught me early on that there is not a lot of space for shyness. It really helped me grow up and become the strong person I am today.
When did you decide to pursue modeling?
Modeling never crossed my mind until I was approached by a model scout in a mall in Hamburg in the summer of 2012. I was with two of my best girlfriends, growing up in a small town, where action and excitement were quite rare. Of course, we thought it would be funny to play dress up and take some pictures. Never did I expect to actually sign a contract with a modeling agency about a month later. If it were up to me, I would probably be working at my dad’s car dealership right now, selling cars.
Tell us about your wildest modeling world experience.
Probably living in a model apartment with six or seven other girls when I came to New York for the first time. Eight of us slept on bunk beds in a two-bedroom apartment, sharing one bathroom. Clothes, hair, iPads, makeup, fights, laughs, and shoes everywhere. Many different characters and attitudes. Every girl with her own story and a big dream. It was tough for me to be that far away from home while trying to understand the business. In the end, I made friends for life. They taught me many things about the industry and what it’s like to live and survive in the Big Apple.
You recently went on safari in Kenya. What are some highlights from the trip?
Going on a safari has always been a huge dream of mine. I can say that this trip was more than I ever expected. Visiting Africa changes you. Sleeping in a tent in the absolute wilderness and seeing endangered rhinos protected from poaching was mind-blowing and endlessly inspiring.
Your career has entirely taken place in the age of social media. How has that affected your career?
I can only speak for myself, but I am glad social media has been there throughout my career. When I started modeling, one of the first things I would hear from clients and casting directors was, “We would love to see more of your personality.” Now, in addition to just having your portfolio, you also have Instagram as a platform for people to see who I am when I’m not wearing designer clothes and a lot of makeup. What do I do for fun? What are my passions and hobbies? What’s my dog’s name? It’s given many of us the opportunity to connect with people we might have never been able to meet or work with.
Whose career do you admire?
Gisele Bündchen. She is my ultra girl crush. There is hardly one thing that she does that doesn’t somehow inspire me. Everything she represents feels very genuine. It doesn’t just make me want to be her best friend, but it also makes me want to work on myself, my career, and my own family one day.
What qualities do you look for in a romantic partner?
I am a very romantic Cancer, so it is quite hard for me to keep this response short. Here are my top four: honesty, loyalty, respect, and a sense of humor.
Lastly, when do you feel sexiest?
With a fresh tan!
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