A South African beauty earns the honor -- and dishes on her amazing job

By Kate Hogan
January 03, 2013 08:00 PM

Courtesy Victoria’s Secret

While most of the country is hiding from cold temps, the Victoria’s Secret Angels are heating things up! The ladies star in the 2013 swim catalogue — in mailboxes nationwide today — and South African beauty Candice Swanepoel has the privilege (again) of covering the coveted issue.

“It was such an honor to be picked for the cover,” the model tells PEOPLE. “It is such an iconic catalogue. Before I was a model, I used to see Gisele Bündchen, Tyra Banks and all of those iconic women on it. It is amazing that a little South African girl can get on the cover.”

In her big shot, Swanepoel wears a Very Sexy bandeau top — one Victoria’s Secret’s newest offerings for 2013 (in stores and online today). “I love it — it’s so sexy and gives me amazing cleavage,” the model shares.

For this catalogue, Swanepoel and her Angel pals hit the beaches of Miami and Turks and Caicos, and were shot by famed photographer Russell James. And though there is always pressure to look perfect in pictures, Swanepoel says she was never nervous during her shoot.

“Victoria’s Secret is like a big family,” she explains. “The swim shoots are always really fun, and I love being on the beach. I can’t really complain [about my job] — I feel very lucky!”

This year, the company is offering a little something extra for swim fans in the form of the new Angels & Artists video series, which basically pairs hot songs with hot models in bikinis. The first clip in the series, “Bikinis & Bruno Mars” (below), features Swanepoel and Doutzen Kroes making waves to the tune of Mars’s “Locked Out of Heaven.” Additional videos featuring music and models will be released throughout swimsuit season.

If this catalogue leaves you wanting more, you’re in luck: three more catalogues, shot in Tulum and St. Barts, will hit mailboxes throughout the season.

–Kate Hogan