Our cover girl supermodel ALLA KOSTROMICHOVA sits down with Editor ANA MARKOVIC to talk about her beginnings, holding a record for walking the most shows in one season, Alexander McQueen and the ever changing fashion industry.
How were you discovered? Did you always want to be a model?
I was discovered when I was 18 in my homeland of Ukraine. I attended an open call a Milanese modeling agency was holding. A month later I was walking in the Giorgio Armani during Milan fashion week. At the time I was in university getting my degree in medical engineering… needless to say, full time modeling was out of the question because my mom wanted me to finish school. After I graduated, I moved to Paris and my modeling career immediately took off when I started modeling for Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy. I was named one of the top 10 new faces of the season in 2009.
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To be honest when I was a teenager I watched a lot of TV that focused on modeling. The models seemed like “creatures from different planet”… let’s just say I was a very insecure teenager. I couldn’t even imagine that I would be modeling someday with all of the top photographers and luxury brands. I come from a humble background… my mom had never traveled outside of our country. When the fashion industry came calling, it was an opportunity of a lifetime and I couldn’t pass it up. My mom was very supportive and helpful.
Do you remember your first shoot? Were you nervous? We read (on your instagram) that on set you feel at home, was that always the case?
Yes, I remember my first shoot very well… it was a test in Milan. I wasn’t nervous at all, I felt free and reborn. I believed in myself and that attitude came through in front of the camera. The more I modeled the easier and more comfortable it became, but even back when I was still “green”, I think I did well. I felt like I was in the right place; modeling helped me mature and see the world in a different, but more positive perspective.
How different was real modeling world, from the one you imagine before you start working? What are the biggest misconceptions about modeling and fashion industry?
I didn’t think that models always had it easy. I never pictured it as the “over the top” lifestyle that most people envision. There are important things that you must do in order to get to the top. Models have to be incredibly professional with both clients and their agency.
You’ve been top model for quite some time now, worked with amazing teams, do you have some names, being photographers or designers, that you haven’t work with but would like to left on your wish list?
You know, I am completely satisfied with my career. I adore Gucci and their aesthetics… would love to work for that house. I am hosting Next Top Model Ukraine, and perhaps my next step will involve acting. I would love to be in a movie!
What are some of your favorite brands that you’ve worked for in the past?
I adore the gothic aesthetic of McQueen. They will always be #1 for me. I love every project that I have worked on with them. I really enjoy helping introduce new up and coming brands on my Instagram page @alla . For example, Blikvanger, Anouki, Theo, Sanne Saville, Janashia, the Coat by Silchenko. Although you may not have heard of these brands yet, you can look them up… I think you will love them!
You hold a record for walking over 50 shows per season, what are your tips for surviving such a busy fashion week?
This is easy: I try to drink as much water as possible, always have healthy snacks on hand and generally just eat as clean as possible. After each show I clean my skin, as gently as possible, since I typically have so many shows to do. I carry gentle micellar water instead of wipes. Most importantly, I get into the right frame of mind… remain calm, understand that and have the right attitude. You have to be calm and understand that everyone is tired and that it’s not just you. You need to understand that designers are spending lots of money on the production and that for them the next six month of theirs business depend on this particular day. Another side is more selfish, and you need to realize that it is an investment in your future: you build your relations with brands, stylists, and photographers. But honestly speaking I am not sure if I would be able to repeat that now.
What was the most memorable show you ever walked?
In the beginning of my career I worked with Alexander McQueen, the irony is that when you do 55 shows per season, the season when I met Alexander and opened his show I did 54 others as well, you cannot appreciate art and romanticism that fashion has. All month is one long day, and then understanding comes later. I just saw a Dior exhibition in Louvre Museum, and they have a section of designers related to that time, and the Alexander McQueen dress I wore was in the exhibit. I cannot even describe the feelings I had seeing the dress I wore down the runway when I opened his show a part of a fashion history exhibition. I remember when I walked his spring 2010 collection in armadillo boots. He told all the girls modeling the collection that he wouldn’t blame them for falling, and if they did fall next girl can help them to walk back. It was magical, the craziest shoes in my career and no one even tripped, it was just perfect.
We noticed that you supported your colleague Sasha Pivovarova’s painting exhibition, did you enjoy it?
Yes, I love my girls! We come up with a lot of ideas – art or our own brands, and we support each other. Sasha Pivovarova is an extremely talented artist. I love her idea of walking inside an art room. You feel like you’re a part of the project, like one of her creations.
So how close are you with other models?
Most of my friends are models – I do not know if that is good or bad. I have been close with some girls since the “model apartment days” – I guess that is time when you go through the hardest moments and some girls become your family. I have always been lucky – all of them are amazing people.
Being part of the industry for over 10 years, how much do you think it changed? And do you think it changed for the better of for the worse?
Fashion has become much faster, and now it is all about what is next. Instagram looks like a race between stylists and bloggers – who set up the new trends. I have a feeling that 10 years ago fashion week was twice a year, and people had an idea of what was going to be cool in the next six months, but things have changed. If you think about it, almost every day there are fashion shows, showrooms, and trade shows happening somewhere. Thanks to social media it can all immediately come into our lives. The only way to survive in this endless fashion stream, is to follow your own taste and wear only things that you feel for, no matter what the trends are. The good news for designers is that it is much easier to be seen. There are so many great platforms for new brands and they can drive sales using them – if you create good quality product. Same thing with models, brands want fresh faces each season, and it’s harder and harder for girls to stay on the runway consistently. I guess I am very lucky that I started back then.
How did the fashion industry change you?
It is very hard to say where I would be if I wasn’t modeling, and I don’t even think about it. I definitely became more patient, confident and independent. Modeling made me very professional and hardworking. I have learned a lot, and if I didn’t start modeling I would have never got my TV show. You know I think it is very important to appreciate what you have and remember people who helped you to get where you are.
Tell us about your personal style? What styling rules you always follow
When I travel my main tip is to pack looks, not just clothes and ideally looks that can be combined together. I have two wardrobes one as a model and the other as a fashion insider. My model wardrobe is a set of basics: skinny black pants, white t-shirt, silk long sleeve shirts, slim dresses etc. But if we are talking about vacation or fashion week wardrobe, I like brighter more eye-catching looks. Being a gemini is not easy – I love different styles and solutions, one day I may wear something super pretty or feminine and the other days – unisex. I really like classical jackets which can be paired with both lady-like dresses and masculine pants. My personal no-no: I never mix gold and silver and for everything else I trust my intuition.
And finally, what makes you happy?
I guess like anyone else, I just want me, my family and loved ones to be healthy, close to nature with peaceful skies above us. But if were talking professionally I really feel happy and satisfied when I bring something on set, you know those moments when stylist says “do sexy”, the photographer yells “be strong” and client wants a pretty smile and happy eyes, and somehow you pose and convey all of these emotions and that they all say at once “Amazing!!!” – That is what I live for.
Keep up with Alla on Instagram @alla
Photographer JUANKR – @juankr_
Stylist RODERICK HAWTHORNE
Makeup Artist RAUL OTERO
Hair Stylist JHONATAN RENDON
Manicurist NIC KANG
Fashion Assistant JANINE BROWN
Model ALLA KOSTROMICHOVA at New York Model Management
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