Can you tell us how did you start modeling and what encouraged you to kick off this type of career?
I was born in the suburbs of Moscow. From a young age, I dreamed of becoming a professional ballet dancer and took lessons at age 4. The truth is, I’m not a talented dancing, too tall and too clumsy. At age 14 I realized dancing was not for me and began a quest for a new career path. I had been blessed with a lot of things, my biggest asset was my intelligence, which helped me to get in to Finance University at the age of 15 (yes, I was the youngest student in the whole University). I had given up on ideas of becoming a ballerina and focused on my studies. It all changed when one day I’ve heard about a model contest for Slava Zaytzev model school. I thought why not give it a chance, and went to the try outs with my mom. I was in awe at the sheer number of other beautiful hopefuls who had shown up, they must have numbered in the thousands. The queue was stretching for almost a kilometer! The casting process was quick and brutal: each group of four girls came onto the catwalk, walked and faced a cold “thank you, next”. Only a selct few were told to wait behind, and I had been in that few. I was extremely excited, but, could never have imagined myself as a famous model. As time passed, I graduated Slava Zaytev and began working. The casting process was always trying, exhausting ques, on rare occasions I enjoyed myself. Sometimes it was embarrassing (especially my first lingerie shoots), but mostly I saw all this modeling experience as a good opportunity to develop myself, not to mention that I’ve never forgotten my studies in the University as a major source for shaping my future personality.
How do you combine being a model, tv presenter and doing your PHD?
I’ve always put my education first place and my modeling career second. I have graduated from two of the best Universities in Russia and I’m currently working on my PhD thesis. I don’t regret having modeling take a back seat in my life, I have managed to accomplish quite a lot in that field despite dedicating a lot of time to my education. I’ve worked on a variety of photo-shoots for InStyle, l’officiel, ELLE, SNC, Shape, XXL, MESS, Maxim and many others. I was a cover model 16 times (Elle, l’officiel, SNC, Bride, Shape, Avantage, InStyle, Mess and many others). I competed in modeling competitions, winning a majority. My education allowed me build on my career as a model and dive into TV. Now I’m hosting a science program and really enjoying an opportunity to plunge into new research projects with guests on my program, discussing future reality and new technologies.
Do you find a synergy between fashion and science?
I see all my life as a big research project, with this understanding all aspects of my life have similarities. It’s interesting to communicate with completely different people (from scientists to models) and understand their way of thinking, and their interests in life. It’s like living two lives simultaneously. And believe me, I have seen superficial scientists and profound well-educated models. So, I don’t judge a book by its cover nor job occupation.
You travel extensively for your modeling gigs, do you have any tips for new faces who want to kick off their careers in the fashion industry?
It’s extremely important to be your authentic self, other personalities are already taken. I see some young and pretty-faced girls who are struggling to be more important, more experienced, more in vogue. And it doesn’t do any good. Customers are looking for simplicity, for true emotions, for openness. You can be different, and be you in every role you take.
What is travelling to you? Any favorite destinations?
Yes, I love UAE, especially Abu-Dhabi. I feel at home there and love the local people and ambiance.
If you could have a super power, what would be that?
I suppose I already have one and we all have. I’m a strong believer that we can modify our reality. Every goal we have is within our reach. The only thing we need to do is to find this power inside and to believe in ourselves.
What is your next project that you’re currently working on?
I’ve just finished the first episode of a major TV project about Russian and Arabic relations. It’s very interesting for me and I believe it’s important for the development of long-term stable relations between Russia and our partners. As far as my modelling career, I’m going with the flow, expecting some interesting proposals from magazines and fashion designers.
Natalia in 3 words is…?
Dedicated, passionate, persistent
Do you believe that models should be also role models?
Yes, I do believe so, but it depends on personality. Every media-person should understand that she\he might be a role model for someone. And it’s not fun, it’s a responsibility. If you are just a pretty face, then what’s the point? What message are you going to transmit? Being a woman of integrity is more fruitful. People can be attracted by your appearance for only a limited period, but your personality can keep them interested forever.
What is the message that you’re trying to communicate through your work? Is female empowerment movement important for you?
I’m not trying to convey the idea that women should play an equal role in the society. We should play an exact role that we consider appropriate for us. We are different from men and that is a fact. We are more sensitive, more fragile, bur at the same time we exude strength, we are more attached to our relatives and home. But we have the right to determine our own way and take responsibility for ourselves. In Russia we have a patriarchic society, but, I like it that way. I like that we don’t split the bill in the restaurant, I like the romantic courtship, I like to be the “weak gender” and feel protected. But it’s all more like a mating game. In family relations, we are partners, and I appreciate this partnership.
Is there anything that you would like to change in today’s world? How would you change it?
There are lots of things in the world that I consider unfair. But I’m trying to stick to the principle “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference”. I’m trying to do my best to live a meaningful life and be happy in the meanwhile.
Is fashion a final destination for you, career-wise or you plan to start new, even more surprising projects?
I’ve never consider fashion a full-time job. I pay lot of attention to it but I have lots of other passions. I love science, I love my job as a scientific TV journalist. And it’s not that I’m looking for Plan B because I’m afraid model can’t last for a long time. There are no age limits for models, I just want to diversify my interests in life and try a new things, and combine different fields.
Who inspires you to keep doing what you do? Any role models?
It may sound a bit naïve, but the biggest source of inspiration for me is my parents. As a child, I strive to be the best, in the hopes of making them proud. My mom is ballerina and my dad is a physicist so they have different visions for my future. And their genes gave me a chance to combine science and fashion.
Home for Natalia is in…?
In Moscow. At least it’s the place where I can repack my suitcases for the next trip. And I must say that I like Moscow, I like the fast pace lifestyle, traffic, running people, lights. I like idly wandering around, looking on this chaos, it comforts me somehow.
Now tell us, how do you feel about collaborating with Mess Magazine?
Dear Domi, it was a great experience for me, I love Mess, I highly appreciate all what you are doing. I love your approach to life, your unusual vision of things. I see that Mess and me have lots in common and our collaboration will continue in a very fruitful way.