Valentina Sampaio is accustomed to being the first. In 2020, the Brazilian-born model and activist was the first transgender woman to work with Victoria’s Secret and star in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. This year she’s joining Cate Blanchett and Ryan Reynolds as a face of Armani beauty.
It’s appropriate that Sampaio’s first campaign with Armani is for the brand’s new lipstick collection, named Lip Power, because lipstick is the first beauty product she fell in love with as a young child.
“Red lipstick is one of the few beauty products I remember my mom using,” says Sampaio. “It was for special occasions, so a red lip symbolizes celebration, femininity, and beauty.”
A bold lip is still Sampaio’s go-to for glamour—and she loves explicitly the Armani Lip Power shade 400, which makes her feel “happy and most beautiful.”
Sampaio’s approach to beauty—including that classic red lip—has remained steadfast from her childhood in Brazil, through her transition, and now living and working between New York and Brazil. Her first beauty icons still influence her looks today, too.
“For sure, Brooke Shields in Blue Lagoon,” she says. “I loved her natural, beachy beauty. I found Grace Jones incredibly inspiring for her strength, good use of color, and confident androgyny. And I loved watching Boy George’s music videos on television, especially ‘Karma Chameleon.'”
And for all the aspiring LGBTQIA models, Sampaio has some advice that helped her along her journey: “You have to be first to accept, love, and respect yourself,” Sampaio says. “You have every right to exist as you truly are. Believe that you are capable of being and creating whatever you want. You can be a model, a mother, a doctor; you can be an actress, whatever.”
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