On Wednesday evening, Jasmine Tookes will take to the Victoria's Secret catwalk in Paris wearing the $3million Fantasy bra which forms the pinnacle of the annual underwear spectacular. In previous years, the honour has fallen to the likes of British model Lily Aldridge and Brazillian supers Gisele Bunchden, Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio.
Tookes is, of course, as toned and gorgeous as her preternaturally sleek predecessors, but her appointment as this year's Fantasy bra wearer has marked a change in message of glitz, glamour and perfection that has long become associated with the Victoria's Secret Angels.
When the brand unveiled Tookes as the wearer of the Fantasy bra, images from the photo shoot showed her posing on a luscious velvet sofa in knickers and said bra - which is crafted from 9000 gemstones and is so heavy it has required her to do specific back-strengthening exercises. So far, so your-average-underwear-shoot. But from some angles, the images revealed faint stretch marks on Tookes' upper thighs. While neither Tookes or Victoria's Secret made any public statement, the images seemed to be a tacit recognition that, yes, even supermodels aren't entirely perfect and a nod, maybe, to the body positive, anti-Photoshop movement which has taken hold over the past few years.
Tookes is also the first black woman to be chosen to model the bra in nine years after Selita Ebanks and Tyra Banks (who Tookes cites as an inspiration) were chosen in the earlier years of the show. "I feel like it's such a milestone for Victoria's Secret to have a woman of colour wearing the fantasy bra, because there's only been two in the past," Tookes told Fashionista in October. "It's major, and I think it's awesome I get to represent that."
This weekend, Tookes - who has African, European, Brazilian and West Indian roots - was also forced to defend herself on Instagram and Twitter after she was accused of bleaching her skin. "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," Tookes wrote. On Twitter, she added "Just CRAZY!!! I love my skin! It's my favorite thing about myself."
Born in Huntington Beach, California, Tookes was first discovered when she accompanied her mother - the celebrity stylist Cary Robinson - on a photo shoot. She has walked in shows for Burberry, Stella McCartney, Yves Saint Laurent and Prada (among many more) and has been part of the Victoria's Secret line-up since 2012. The 25 year-old has also starred in campaigns for Jimmy Choo, Ralph Lauren and DKNY, recently appearing with her 7 year-old sister in J.Crew's seasonal catalogue.
While Tookes might not be quite as well known as some of her Fantasy bra-wearing predecessors - despite her 1.4 million Instagram followers - it seems that she may, unwittingly perhaps, have the power to use her Victoria's Secret role to break down preconceptions and add a dose of reality to a show which can sometimes seem to be all about impossible-to-achieve perfection.
The Victoria's Secret models are all open about the level of training which they embrace to hone their show-ready bodies, another aspect of the role which Tookes is proud to talk about; "I love being able to share with people how to be healthy and take care of their bodies," she said to Fashionista. "A lot of my fans will say, 'Thank you so much, I got into working out because of you,' and I love that because I love being able to motivate people."
Tookes grew up playing volleyball and softball, and spent ten years practising gymnastics but in an early interview in her career, from 2011, she was vague about her commitments to healthy living, just saying that "yoga could possibly be in my future". She also shrugged off any notions of a healthy diet, telling The Cut: "I hate to say this, but I'm one of those people with an extremely fast metabolism. I eat, eat, eat, and yet I can't seem to gain any weight. Lobster and crabs are favorites. Also, I LOVE pizza ... I think I could eat pizza every day." A clue as to how she'll be celebrating after the VS show finale?