Neoprene Desire bodysuit, $2,304, at La Perla; Wanderlust white gold, agate and black diamond ring, $7,500, at daniellakronfle.com; Crest sterling silver and white diamond ring, $4,000, at lynnban.com; diamond Wave bracelet from the 2015 Tiffany Blue Book, $500,000, at Tiffany & Co.; Tuxedo sandals, $1,295, at sergiorossi.com; stay-ups by Fogal.
Double-faced wool crepe bustier, $1,780, by Sally LaPointe at fwrd.com; double-strapped calf-hair spiked metal cuff, $695, and mirrored crescent hinge cuff, $445, both at alexisbittar.com.
Oh, the glamorous life of a supermodel! “Hold on—my dog just threw up,” says Chrissy Teigen, Sports Illustrated cover model and no-holds-barred co-host of new ABC talk show FABLife. She is splayed out on a couch in an L.A. photo studio, surrounded by about “10,000 bowls of pasta,” at the end of a marathon photo shoot for her upcoming cookbook (due out next year). This is exactly the kind of uncensored banter that’s won Teigen legions of followers on social media. Hilarity tends to ensue whenever she’s around.
Apparently, the dog chowed down on some wayward pita and is now paying the price, but he’s not the only one to go off his diet today. Teigen, who’s been on her annual juice cleanse in preparation for a big swimsuit shoot later in the week, made tuna casserole topped with jalapeno chips on set, so all bets were off. “Those jalapeno chips came out and just ruined it all. You could put a plate of doughnuts in front of me and I don’t give a sh*t. But once you put out jalapeno chips or anything savory, basically, I lose my mind,” she says. “I’m sorry, I’m literally burping,” she adds.
Teigen’s no-holds-barred style has gotten her into some hot water, “honestly, every day,” she admits. But damned if that stops her. “I don’t care. That’s the best part. Every year I get older, the less and less I care,” she says. Teigen turns 30 in November—a milestone to some, but nothing more than “a good birthday party” to her. “If anything, it’s good to see my changing body and changing voice, my gaining of confidence,” she says.
Proving her point, she’s sporting a low-cut Anthony Vaccarello blouse with a white bra, One Denim jeans and Isabel Marant booties. Most days, her personal style is low-key but on-trend. “I really love street-style, brands like Rag & Bone, Theory and Alexander Wang,” she notes.
Teigen’s modeling career began at 19, when a photographer discovered her working in a Huntington Beach surf shop. The bodacious beauty quickly rose to the top of her game, landing the coveted Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue’s 50th anniversary cover in 2014. Still, she insists, “I am the worst model. I love looking at photos of beautiful, talented models. But me? Not at all.” As for being considered a sex symbol, the suggestion blows her mind. “I don’t even believe that,” she says dismissively.
Meanwhile, the fashion industry knows all about her lack of inhibition. “When they hire Chrissy, they’re going to get something maybe a little scary,” she admits. Or at least titillating. In fact, the week Teigen and I spoke, she just unleashed a firestorm of bulging eyeballs and wagging tongues by posting a shot of her husband, superstar singer John Legend, showing his bare buttocks on Instagram. “We were in Paris, a few drinks in. Tequila and bad judgment were behind it,” she says with a laugh. “I had seen Justin Bieber’s [bare butt] photo earlier and I was like, ‘Oh, it’s a cute ass, whatever.’ And I was still pissed about my nipples.”
Wait, did she just say nipples? In June, when Instagram deleted a shot from a W fashion spread that Teigen posted, she waged a mini campaign to #freethenipple. “The nipple has been temporarily silenced, but she will be back, oh yes, she will be back,” she tweeted, then proceeded to post filtered versions of the pic, giving it the look of an oil painting and pencil sketch. A valiant effort, but the manipulated images were also deleted. “I still can’t believe that you can post an entire bare ass and not your nipple,” she marvels. Hubby, by the way, consented to reveal his backside in cyberspace. “I love how people are like, ‘Oh, my god, how disrespectful of his wife!’ If you think John didn’t approve of that shot first, you’re crazy,” she says.
The pair has been in sync since the moment they met on the set of the steamy video for Legend’s 2006 song “Stereo,” in which Teigen played the part of his love interest. “I remember walking into his dressing room just to say hi, and John was ironing in his underwear. My first words to him, 10 years ago, were: ‘You do your own ironing?’” Before they officially became an item, “I tried to play it cool. Listen, he’s a musician. I didn’t want to be the leechy weirdo, like, ‘Where are we going with this?’ I left him alone a little bit, and it paid off,” she explains.
It’s been easy-breezy ever since. Engaged in 2011, the pair wed in Lake Como in 2013. Italy still holds a special place in their hearts; they spent this past summer touring the country. “We just really love each other,” Teigen gushes. “He’s my boy. He’s funny. He’s brilliant and amazing. It’s easy to love him.” The feeling is clearly mutual. Legend wrote “All of Me,” his first No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, in honor of his wife. The song has taken on a life of its own, and Teigen loves that it’s become a hit on the wedding circuit. “I think that’s awesome. John and I didn’t have a first dance—because I can’t dance!—so it’s nice to see other people have it,” she says.
The pair is ridiculously devoted to their dogs—Puddy, Pippa and Penny, a three-legged French bulldog they adopted last summer. Teigen announced the news on Twitter: “She is our new little tripod love bug. Yes. She has 3 legs WHICH IS MORE THAN YOU OKAY.” Now, they’re actively working on building a family, hoping for some two-legged companions. “One hundred percent we want kids. I want to have them until I can’t! If it happened three years ago, I would’ve had them three years ago. We’re definitely in the motions of it,” she says. “It’s funny, when you want them, sometimes they don’t come. There’s a lot of stress that goes into it. And difficulty. But sometimes it’s a happy accident, which we haven’t had yet, but I’d be thrilled.”
Teigen gets misty-eyed anticipating holidays with a full house and a table crowded with three or four children, minimum. “We like a little chaos in our lives. I envision everybody around my table for Thanksgiving. I’m going to cook for my family and show them love through food,” she says.
Recently, the pair and their pets uprooted their life in New York City’s Little Italy and decamped to L.A.—(“We always consider ourselves New Yorkers. I’m an L.A. girl now—it’s crazy!”)—as Teigen attends to her budding television career. She provides color commentary on Spike TV’s Lip Sync Battle, a show that took off beyond her wildest dreams. “When it started, people were a little hesitant about being on the show,” she recalls. “But I went to the Oscars and the Met Ball, and I had celebrities coming up to me left and right saying, ‘How can we get on the show?’ I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me? Anne Hathaway, you want to do Lip Sync Battle? Jesus, yes!’” She’s also, of course, a co-host on FABLife (FAB as in “fun and beautiful”), a roundtable daytime talk show led by Tyra Banks, premiering Sept. 14. Teigen’s beat? Cooking, of course.
As fans know, she’s enthusiastic about preparing simple, flavorful food. Her blog, sodelushious.com, features easy recipes from her husband’s “legendary fried chicken” to dishes inspired by her own background (“My mom’s Thai, and we have her papaya salad”). These unfussy dishes are good indicators of what’s to come in her cookbook. “This isn’t your typical celebrity cookbook,” she declares. “I really hate when you can tell that somebody who doesn’t have the passion for it is pumping out a book. I really feel like this should have been my first calling. I love when people send me photos of the recipes that they’ve made—that makes me very emotional.”
She and Legend also love to dine out, and although the East Coast expat longs for her favorite Manhattan haunts (Frank Restaurant, Jack’s Wife Freda, Ippudo, Momofuku Noodle Bar and Le Bernardin), she already has L.A. faves (Parks Barbeque, Hoy-Ka in Thai Town and Jinya Ramen Bar).
They’d like to settle in a single-story midcentury-modern home in Trousdale, right in the heart of Beverly Hills, where “you get those amazing views, but without the narrow winding roads of the hills. I don’t do narrow!” She needs to be able to zip to work in their new Tesla, and intimidating scary roads are out of the question.
What drives her to juggle two TV shows, a food blog and numerous projects (MTV’s Snack-Off, among them), in addition to her modeling career? Three million Instagram and nearly 1 million Twitter followers! Enlightening and encouraging others keeps her inspired and engaged on a daily basis.
“I don’t think I would work at all without people that love it,” she says. “The people that you inspire to cook, who have never cooked a day in their lives and are finally cooking their first meal. Or people that feel like they’re comfortable showing their stretch marks because I shared mine. That to me is fantastic. That’s such a good feeling.”
Hair by John Ruggiero with Starworks Group
Makeup by Mary Phillips with Something Artists
Photo assistants: Mike Blumberg, Dustin Huntington and Tas Limur | Styling assistant: Meg McGuire | Manicurist: Noon Bui | Fashion intern: Aliza Abarbanel