|Supermodels Are Lonelier Than You Think!|
Thursday, 6. February 2003
Natalia Vodianova by Natalia Vodianova
Vogue's intro is simple enough: At 15 Natalia left home to fend for herself by selling fruit in a marker in the industrial town of Nizhniy Novgorod, 250 east of Moscow. At 17 she left Russia to try her luck as a model in Paris. At 19 she felt in love with the son of an English viscount, had his baby and three months later was starring in the YSL show. When they married, in a three-days extravaganza of a wedding, she was 20, he was 33.
There is no word of the "catalogues" she starred in at the beginning of her career, in fact no question is asked about her first two years outside Russia. There is no mention of her first agency, no quote from the people she left. We're not talking Pulitzer stuff here. But there are so many holes, so many improbable claims, the whole think is so inconsistent that I decided to post here the Vogue quotes "as is".
The whole piece is a build-up to the CK campaign anyway. Fabien Baron, CK's creative director, is quoted as saying Natalia will be one of the big Calvin Klein girls, "like Kate Moss or Brooke Shields" -- an incredibly rude thing to say for Jessica Miller, who still appeared in CK ads when this article went to press.
The article is based on a joint interview with Natalia and her husband. The highlights:
About the fruit stall story: "It's true. I would go and help my mother. It amazes me to think that at the age of eleven to thirteen, I used to carry tens and tens of boxes, each of wich weighted 30 kilos, without even thinking it was heavy! But it wasn't going well, because my mother is not a very good businesswoman. So at fifteen I rented an apartment with my friend, and we started our own stall".
About her family: "My mother had three different daughters by three different fathers. One of my sisters is an invalid, so it's difficult to talk about her. Never mind. It's over now".
About her debuts: "When I was 14 a boyfriend introduced me to a 'modeling academy' where we leaned things like how to say poetry, and never had any photographs taken. It was more like going for fun (…) When a scout from Paris came up, he told me, 'you are going to Paris, and you will do well, but only if you learn English in three months'.
About Paris: "I arrived with a look that said 'don't mess with me'. I arrived with a feeling like that. I didn't really trust people.
About her first date with Justin: "We met at a dinner arranged by a mutual friend -- the Russian scout -- at Georges, the restaurant at the top of the Pompidou Center in Paris. I really wasn't meant to be at the dinner, but destiny lured me there. Justin was flirting with my girlfriend at the other side of the table, and when he came to sit next to me, I reacted really badly. We were fighting for the next two hours, screaming at each other. He was drunk, I was drunk, and everyone was laughing. His best friend said, 'Look, Justin has found his wife!"
About the pregnancy: "(Justin) orchestrated a second meeting. And he wasn't drunk. I melted And then we never separated". Portman: "We basically said, if it happens, it happens. And a day later, she was pregnant".
About her earnings "Some of the CK money I redirect to Nizhniy Novgorod, where I arranged nursing care and housing for my disabled sister and my mother, who is only 39. She's my baby. I want to spoil her now, make sure she's happy. She's had such a hard-core life. Wherever I work or I don't work, it doesn't matter. Because I already have everything I want, right here."
Fun fact 1 : The Viscountess Penelope Portman, mother of the Honorable Justin Portman, says in the article she admires Natalia's family and their values (the three husbands bit perhaps?).
Fun fact 2: The "mutual" friend is portrayed as French in the scout tale, and as Russian in the Georges dinner tale.
Fun fact 3: Even if she ate only a Mcdonald junior hamburger every 24 hours, drinking water from the public fountains, Natalia Volodianova couldn't possibly live on a 100 francs a week food budget in Paris.
Fun fact 4: If she took his family name, she would be called Natalia Portman, confusing a lot of Star Wars fans.
---> The bigger version from yesterday's pic is here
More build-up to NYC Fashion Week
Fashion Has a Story, and Plans to Shout It
An analyst for Bear Stearns, say, making his way home to Cos Cob or Scarsdale through Grand Central Terminal any night next week, might find his thoughts temporarily digressing from the solemn news surrounding fourth-quarter earnings. Distraction will come from images of young women blown up to many times their already Brobdingnagian size. Vogue magazine will install a giant screen in Vanderbilt Hall for the duration of Fashion Week, to deliver continual runway footage from the fall 2003 shows in Bryant Park to the 500,000 commuters every day.
"This is about taking the fashion industry to the people," Vogue's publisher, Thomas A. Florio, said. "The models will look as though they are walking through the logo of Vogue."
Although little on the world stage might suggest that the mass appetite for style news is growing, the monthlong collections that begin with the New York shows on Friday are the focus of unusually aggressive media attention.
Besides Vogue's Grand Central project, the magazine is producing five one-hour specials drawing from runway news, which will be shown over the coming months on syndicated television. In conjunction with Fashion Week, 600,000 of Time magazine's most affluent subscribers will receive a special style and design supplement along with the newsweekly next Monday. The special issue will be distributed twice a year; the first features Heidi Klum on the cover.
The motive behind Time's venture is to attract more luxury-goods advertisers to the weekly, Taylor Gray, an associate publisher, said. "Obviously the environment for this isn't as good as it was two years ago," Mr. Gray said, "but the hope is to develop relationships with these advertisers and lay the groundwork for when times are better."
Meanwhile, the Metro Channel's popular "Full Frontal Fashion" series, which already features saturation coverage of the New York shows, will travel for the first time to Milan and Paris for the European collections. Beginning in April, "Full Frontal Fashion" will expand beyond its New York City base to become a weekly program on the WE cable channel, with Ali Landry as host, which reaches 50 million viewers.
WE has made a weekly commitment to style coverage, the network's president, Martin von Ruden, said, "because companies like Revlon and L'Oréal expressed specific interest in fashion coverage on WE."
Perhaps in a sour economy, purveyors of clothes, beauty products and other comparative frivolities find they need to advertise more assertively, rather than less so.
Finally, as the ultimate captive audience for fashion and beauty marketers, the industry professionals attending the collections will find themselves besieged by even more coverage. The Time supplement will be distributed at Bryant Park, along with a gossip-filled daily magazine produced for showgoers by Us magazine, which made a successful debut last fall during the spring collections. Buyers and editors will also receive another publication, The Daily, produced by Seventh on Sixth, the official presenters of the New York shows.
Fern Mallis, director of Seventh on Sixth, said The Daily had little trouble finding advertisers. The paper will appear six times during Fashion Week with 101 pages of advertising from companies like Condé Nast, Redkin, Avon and Sony, she said.
"We've got thousands of people sitting and waiting for shows to start for 20 minutes to an hour with nothing," Ms. Mallis added. "We can give them something to do. This industry has a million stories."
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