Doutzen Disrobes

Doutzen Disrobes

In these instantly iconic nude pictures, Doutzen Kroes shows she’s a classic pinup girl for our modern era. But the dutch supermodel’s beauty is more than skin deep

In these instantly iconic nude pictures, Doutzen Kroes shows she’s a classic pinup girl for our modern era. But the dutch supermodel’s beauty is more than skin deep

Photography: Sebastian Faena

Styling: Sofia Achaval


Doutzen Kroes is that rarest of creatures: a top model who looks like a woman. Her out-of-left-field debut in the January 2005 issue of American Vogue, followed by an Italian Vogue cover the next month, caused a stir among the ranks of people who make a living defining standards of beauty. Those lips! Those curves! And that face—a face that, for once, wasn’t imperfect in some quirky or alien way, but was almost too perfect, too traditionally beautiful, with its small nose, milk-fed flush, and Rockwellian roundness. With all this perfection, the notion of Kroes in the nude has truly transcendent appeal. With her idealized proportions, she’s like the female equivalent of da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man (as photographer Sebastian Faena puts it, “She’s the ultimate naked woman”). Yet because of her healthy glow, there’s something slightly scandalous about her shedding her clothes. Which is how it is with all great pinups.

In person, however, Kroes doesn’t come off as the scandalous type. Swaddled virtuously in layers of deconstructed earth-toned cashmere, hair in a ballerina bun, she seems beatific, a sort of downtown Grace Kelly. “I don’t think I’m going to tell my mom and dad,” she says of the shoot. “If they see it, they see it. But I’m sure my boyfriend will love it.” The full-frontal shots were unplanned. “It was a moment, and the clothes just came off,” Kroes says. “I was surprised that I felt so good. I saw it as a tool. My body could be a tool I used for the benefit of the photographs. It was not necessarily me.” The results, she notes, have historical precedent. “I’ve always liked the nude pictures Herb Ritts did of the supermodels in the ’80s,” she says.

In many ways, Kroes has more in common with the telegenic, first-name-only stars Ritts photographed—Cindy, Christy, Stephanie—than with her peers. Though she was raised in the Netherlands, she seems almost all-American in her spirited wholesomeness. Growing up in the quaint village of Oostermeer (“my boyfriend says it’s like The Sound of Music”), she was a competitive speed skater (“I wasn’t in the Olympics or anything, but I won some regional medals”) until shortly after high school graduation when she decided to send in some shots to an agency in Amsterdam. Incredibly, she had to make a follow-up call to get signed, but within a year, she was in New York. A year after that, she was in Vogue. Contracts with Calvin Klein and L’Oréal followed, and this past fall she landed the ultimate crossover gig by becoming a Victoria’s Secret Angel. Now she is walking the line between mass and class like no model since Gisele.

Kroes has the attributes of an icon. She dates a celebrity DJ (Ruckus, Lenny Kravitz’s cousin), and she could probably kick your ass (she trains in a boxing gym and is known for challenging male crew members to handstand contests, which she often wins). But her appeal goes deeper. In conversation, she is unusually thoughtful and serious, whether she’s describing the time-warp quality of contemporary Cuba or assessing the international implications of Barack Obama’s election (she says she spent that night alone in bed with a cold, crying tears of joy). She sees supermodeldom as a chance to “give something back,” and while she’s not the first pretty face to say that, her sincerity is unquestionable. “I’ve experienced so many cultures and countries through my job,” she says. “I would like to get involved with a charity like Greenpeace or the World Wildlife Fund.” One place she’d like to help is Uganda, where she happens to have a pen pal. “I was there for a shoot, and I was walking through this village when a man came up to me, tapped me on the shoulder, and said, ‘Do you have e-mail?’” she says. “He showed me the inside of his little hut, and he had e-mail! We’re still in touch. He goes to school and wants to be a musician.” She wants to organize a program in her native country to send used bicycles there: “Ugandans bike a lot, and so do people in Holland.”

When we met, Kroes was reading A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, the German spiritual guru who believes that the human ego is the source of all conflict and must be transcended. She makes a conscious effort to keep her ego in check, she says. “We live in such a beautiful world and we’re messing it up. It’s such a bubble, people in fashion. But you don’t have to go to Africa to see suffering. You don’t even have to leave New York.” As the saying goes, beauty is as beauty does.