Underwear model-turned-entrepreneur Caprice Bourret talks to us about her business, her modelling career and giving Arnold Schwarzenegger a run for his money:
Interviewer: How are you coping with the snow?
Caprice: I can’t stand it!
C. Absolutely. But you know what’s so crazy -- actually it’s probably just global warming – but last week I was in the Bahamas, where my boyfriend lives, and it was freezing, absolutely freezing!
I. Can you tell me a bit about your boyfriend?
C. Well, it’s been out there. Um, but I usually really don’t get into talking about the relationship. (Caprice started dating Juan Bacardi, an heir to the Bacardi rum fortune, in the summer of last year).
I. You’ve been voted sexiest woman of the year by a number of men’s magazines. How do you respond to such accolades?
C. Well. Um. (Pauses). I’m flattered. I mean, goodness it’s quite a compliment I think. Any girl would think so.
I. Being a model you must get lot of attention from men, but how do you get women onside to promote your products?
C. Well, you know, it’s been a real evolution for me because even five years ago my fan mail was predominantly from men. But now it’s mainly from women. I mean, come on. I’m 38, I don’t want to be on the cover of FHM forever. I hung up my shoes and I let the little spring chickens takeover, you know. (Laughs). Oh no, now I’ve completely lost what the question was?
I. It was about how women respond to you.
C. Oh yeah, right. My life is now about the business (By Caprice Lingerie) so I do a lot of interviews about being a businesswoman. And my business has worked, you know. It’s not just me talking about cute successes on paper. It’s actually worked. Even during a really tough economic time my business has withstood and been fine. I don’t have debts and I’m making money. It’s quite an accomplishment and I’m picking up a lot of female fans, obviously, not because of me or the way I look but because they like my products.
I. You became very well know in the 1990s as an underwear model and as the face of Wonderbra particularly. How did you make the transition from modelling lingerie to selling it?
C. Well it just seemed like a natural progression. And by the way the irony is I was never the Wonderbra girl. I know I always get quotes saying I was the Wonderbra girl, but actually I was never the Wonderbra girl. I never got that contract. No, no, no.
I. How has that been misconstrued then?
C. Well, because I did a shoot once and I was wearing a Wonderbra. That’s where it all happened. And, you know, at the time I thought well let’s go with it. We tried to rectify it but everyone sort of liked that title. But it isn’t accurate.
C. Anyways, the transition between being a model and owning my own business has been a really hard journey. Initially it was dealing with people’s incredulity that was the problem. They didn’t expect me to actually do it. But it does give me a feeling of elation.
I. You started the business 10 years ago when you had a partnership with high street brand Debenhams. Has the business changed since then?
C. You’ve got to ask yourself who is your target market. At the end of the day mine is not the upper echelons. It is high street. My bras go for £22 and the knickers are £10 and £12. And this is my market. So, first of all as a business woman I have to identify my target market of high street 18 to 35-year-olds. Not only that, but Debenhams were so great. They did all the hard work for me, they established my name. And you know I just did a licence deal with them and there were two collections that were absolutely awful where they lost a fortune because we didn’t yet know what the customer wanted.
I. When did you strike out on your own?
C. I bought back my licence and started up By Caprice Lingerie almost four years ago. So that was a really big deal. From having a licence deal to actually owning the business - there’s not anyone else who has that. Even Elle Macpherson doesn’t own her brand, hers is a licence. Very different from what I do.
I. I understand that when you were a kid your ambition was to be governor of California. Does that still stand?
C. (Laughs a lot). I mean, you never know. If Arnold Schwarzenegger can do it and he was born in Germany. Well, who knows?
I. How would he respond do you think if you ran as his political opponent?
C. Actually, I think it would be quite hilarious. Now that would make a good TV show. (Laughs). But the good news is I don’t think I’ll be running anytime soon.
I. Talking of reality TV, what do you think of the current Celebrity Big Brother?
C. I think it’s fabulous! Oh my god. I wish I was in the house this season. It’s unbelievable who they got. Such an eclectic group of people. Really interesting.
I. Who do you want to win?
C. Well I’m a bit biased because I did a movie with Vinnie (Jones) and I love him. He’s such a nice guy so I would love for Vin to win. Ivana Trump I think is absolutely hysterical. She lives in a bubble that one, absolute lala land. It’s quite good TV. I think Vinnie’s got a good chance though.
I. Have you got any more Reality TV shows coming up?
C. Um, right now I’m more interested in going on the West End. I did Rent and the Vagina Monologues recently and also starred in Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical at the Edinburgh Festival. At the end of the day though my business is my passion. And whatever I do, going on TV, the West End, any publicity is all a form of marketing.
I. Is that why you keep up your public profile?
C. It is. If it were up to me I’d be home with a giant pizza, my boyfriend and my Chihuahuas and that’s it.
By Caprice Lingerie is available at stockists including: