Clad in a printed Matthew Williamson maxi with a plunging neckline, the model plucks leaves and arranges stems in the perfect round formation, pausing to pose with her bouquet of roses and dahlias every couple of minutes for a photographer. As if to hammer home the point, her flowers, now encased in cellophane and treated with water, manage to stand upright sans vase for the entire remainder of the event. My bouquet lasts about half a second before it keels over and has to be retired to a shopping bag.
Which brings me to the question: Why on earth am I arranging flowers with one of the buzziest fashion models of the moment? As one of Victoria's Secret's newest Angels, Maxwell is in London to celebrate the launch of the lingerie brand's Body by Victoria collection, samples of which are hanging from shelves dotted with flowers in the basement classroom of McQueens Flower School. The collection is soft and romantic, with touches of burgundy and rose hues. The accompanying array of body care and fragrances boasts scents like verbena and gardenia. It's all very romantic and feminine, and, well, who doesn't like flowers?
Clutching her own bouquet to her chest, the 24-year-old Angel asks what I plan to do with my flowers after class. I mention cheering up a friend, and she approves. I'm tempted to ask her if she'll be gifting hers to rumored girlfriend Miley Cyrus, but I don't — questions about Maxwell's love life have been prohibited.
She is, however, willing to talk about other subjects related to romance — like sex. Here, she discusses bras, Fifty Shades, and what makes someone sexy.
Tell us about the new Body by Victoria range.
"This line is definitely one of their most comfortable, softest collections. It's like one of those perfect T-shirt bras you can put on in the morning, and you're not going to worry about it being uncomfortable. You can just do your day. I'm really obsessed with it, because it's an easy bra."
What's something that people conventionally find sexy that you don't? Like, what's your take on Fifty Shades of Grey?
"I read it and found that book really sexy. I haven't seen the movie yet. But [generally] every woman, every shape, every size, everything's sexy. It's all about confidence and vibe, and enjoying your body and being comfortable in your body."
"I guess you could say I'm more into someone's personality rather than how someone looks."
What happens when you're anointed as an Angel? Do they give you a pair of wings, or do you suddenly get to be best friends with Taylor Swift?
"Once they announce it, things change, because it's an accomplishment. It gives you a new title and status within the brand. They really promote you within the brand, so they focus on promoting your own personality. I could definitely feel the difference in responsibility. You can feel them putting more importance on certain key pieces, and you get to do amazing shoots with the best photographers and top models in this industry. It's all pretty epic."
Speaking of your personality, how do you want to use this platform to represent yourself? On your Instagram, for instance, you seem quite vocal about social issues.
"I think Instagram is a great platform to broadcast whatever is going on in your life that day. It could be something silly, it could be serious. I think it's an amazing platform for any girl, any model. It gives you a voice, and that's what I love about it."
Do you remember getting your first bra?
"I totally do. I was probably like 12, and it was just a normal [experience] with my mom."
Victoria's Secret fashion shows are famous for showcasing elaborate costumes. What would be the ultimate getup for you?
"The Fantasy Bras — that's up there. That's the epitome."
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