THE COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER
PHOTOGRAPHY SEBASTIAN FAENA
FASHION JULIA VON BOEHM
TEXT DEREK BLASBERG
MODEL IRINA SHAYK
SUPERMODEL IRINA SHAYK OPENS UP TO DEREK BLASBERG ABOUT GOING FROM LIFE AS A SIMPLE FARM GIRL IN NOWHERE, RUSSIA TO A GLOBAL CELEBRITY WITH A SUPERSTAR FOOTBALLER BOYFRIEND.
Derek Blasberg I’ve got you on holiday. That makes me jealous.
Irina Shayk You should be! I’m in Portugal, on a lake, and it’s so beautiful. You’re the first person I’m talking to today, in fact. When I go away I like to be quiet, but I made a special exception for you.
DB Are you Portuguese?
IS No, but my boyfriend is.
DB We’ll get to the boyfriend in a minute, but if you’re not from Portugal, where are you from?
IS People think I’m Brazilian, or they think I’m Italian, or Spanish. So I say I’m an undercover Russian. I grew up in Emanjelinsk, which is a small village in the middle of nowhere. It is very simple and quiet. I had a garden, and after school I would plant potatoes and tomatoes.
DB Really? Or are you just saying that for effect?
IS No, really. I’m completely a village girl. Sometimes I miss that. Well, I don’t miss planting the potatoes.
DB How did you get in the fashion game?
IS My mother is a musician, so as a child I played the piano. But when I was older I got bored, and my sister, Tatiana, was always in love with beauty products. She would test her hair and makeup products on me all the time, dye my hair, pluck my eyebrows. One day she took me to her beauty school, and Guia Jikidze was there. He was the scout who found Natalia Vodianova and Eugenia Volodina. He got me started.
DB Would you consider yourself a glamorous child?
IS No way. Do I need to remind you about the potatoes? I thought a lot about my garden. My cucumbers. My father was a coal miner. I did not grow up with an American childhood. In Russia, we planted that garden because we had to eat. I didn’t know this world existed. I never thought I would live in Paris or New York. I couldn’t even have dreamed it.
DB What did you think you would do?
IS I was going to be a journalist. So you should be happy this worked for me or else I’d steal your job! Although when I was little I knew I wasn’t going to be a village girl forever. I didn’t think I’d be a model who lived in New York, but I knew I was going to leave the village.
DB We hear so often of an ugly duckling who turns into a swan. Were you teased as a little girl?
IS Sure, kids made fun of me because I was so skinny and I always had these free haircuts from my sister. I remember when I was 14 I wanted high heel boots and they cost $25, but we couldn’t afford them. So I worked in a hospital for 20 days painting the walls to make the $25. I remember the other kids making fun of me for that: Who is this weird, skinny girl in those high heel boots? But I didn’t care.
DB So you would say you’ve realized your sexual appeal and potential today, right?
IS I started modeling late. I was almost 20. I went to Paris and had bad English. I didn’t know how to pose. I did my first picture for my first portfolio and didn’t feel pretty at all. I guess I felt special because, of all the other girls in the world, I was chosen to go to Paris, but I never thought I was beautiful. I lived in the models’ apartment, and the other girls would laugh at me because I was different than them. They were very pale, very skinny editorial girls, and I had curves and a tan.
DB What made you stick it out?
IS I said to myself I would never go back to my village with nothing. And that’s how I decided to go to New York. In 2007 I moved and Sports Illustrated discovered me. That was my first client. That’s when it all began.
DB But today you’re more than a swimsuit model.
IS I started very commercial and doing sexy stuff, like Victoria’s Secret and Guess Jeans. Then last year, when I was 27, I did a Givenchy show, and then Mario Testino and Carine Roitfeld, and Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele booked me. It is nice to see how my career has changed and progressed. Maybe it’s an example for other girls: If you’re stuck in one genre, you can cross the lines today. It doesn’t matter if you’re 17 or 27, sexy models are back!
DB You still live in New York. What do you like about the city?
IS It’s the best city in the world. You can wake up in the morning, walk out of your apartment and feel like everyone is so alive. I just spent three years renovating my apartment, so now I’m happy to spend time at home too. I have five TVs and a theater. I love watching movies. It’s a good place to relax.
DB I know you’re busy being a supermodel and working on your charity. What’s that about?
IS Remember the hospital that I painted to get my high heeled boots when I was a teenager? That’s the only hospital in my village, and there have been times when young people need to stay for long stretches but they can’t afford the treatments. So we set up an organization that helps send foods and medicine. You can find out more about it on the website Pomogi.org.
DB Do you go home often?
IS Not as much as I would like to.
DB Do you still play the piano?
IS Not as much as my mom would like me to.
DB I guess you spend a lot of time at football matches, don’t you?
IS Trick question! But yes, my boyfriend plays football, so I go and support him.
DB Is watching Cristiano Ronaldo play football like watching an artist do a painting?
IS Absolutely! I’ve always been a big sports fan, though. I shouldn’t say this, but I might even like watching tennis matches more than football. Ha!
DB How is it to date one of the world’s most famous footballers?
IS The day I made the decision I was going to be a successful model, I knew I would deal with people wanting to know about my personal life. So it didn’t come as a shock. And if you love someone and you are in a great relationship, you don’t feel the pressure. People can try and disturb that, but if you’re happy you build a wall around you. What’s important to me stays behind that wall.
DB I’m sure whatever happens behind the wall would be nice to look at.
IS Well, yes. I don’t mind confirming that.
MAKEUP JEANINE LOBELL (TIM HOWARD MANAGEMENT) HAIR KEVIN RYAN (ART + COMMERCE) MODEL IRINA SHAYK (WOMEN MANAGEMENT) MANICURE HONEY (EXPOSURE NY) SET DESIGN BRYN BOWEN (THE WALL GROUP) DIGITAL TECHNICIAN PATRICK KLINC PHOTO ASSISTANTS CARLOS RUIZ AND ALEX AUSTIN STYLIST ASSISTANTS CLARE JOAN BRYNE, ALLISON BORNSTEIN, CHRIS LEE, ANNY CHOI MAKEUP ASSISTANT CHISA SET DESIGN ASSISTANT KORI HELLEBUST VIDEOGRAPHERS PATRICIO LIMA QUINTANA AND AGOSTINA GALVEZ PRODUCTION HELENA MARTEL SEWARD PRODUCTION ASSISTANTS ERIC REEVES AND BEN SHAPIRO RETOUCHING BLANK DIGITAL EQUIPMENT RENTAL ROOT [EQ_CAPTURE] LOCATION BROOKMILL FARM, LAMBERTVILLE, NEW JERSEY