Natalia Vodianova: biography
Natalia Vodianova is a world-famous model, she is the face of several legendary Fashion Houses. Recently Natalya is better known as a philanthropist. The girl actively supports children with physical and mental features and fights for their rights.
The biography of Natalia Vodianova, the Cinderella from Nizhny Novgorod, is really like a fairy tale. It is a story of rapid take-off up to the highs from the so-called bottom.
Natalia Vodianova was born in a rather modest and poor family. The girl doesn't remember her father Mikhail Vodianov. Natasha's mother, Larisa Viktorovna Gromova, brought up her three daughters on her own. One of the girls was a disabled person since her childhood – Vodianova's sister Oksana was born with a severe form of autism and cerebral palsy.
It caused not only numerous financial but also psychological problems: at that time such diagnoses weren't made public. Families had to find out almost in practice how to bring up and communicate with children with special needs. But also such life had greatly influenced the future philanthropist. Communication with the sister had encouraged Natalia to appreciate life and had moved her to help persons in need.
Natalia wasn't a saint girl, years later she confessed to the press that in childhood, without knowing anything about Oksana's diagnosis, she was naïve and envied her sister who got all care and attention. Natalia herself had been forced to get mature quickly to help her family, and she fully experienced what it meant to be responsible, as she looked after her sick sister.
Her mother had difficult times, and Natalia helped her to sell fruits on the market, lifting 30-kilogram boxes with goods. Natalia didn't even dream of new clothes at this time: she had to wear her old clothes. At the age of 15 years the schoolgirl entered the teacher training college of Nizhny Novgorod and at the age of 16 Vodianova was enrolled to the model agency "Evgenia". When Natalia remembers her childhood, she confesses that it was difficult. As the model admitted in one of her interviews, she began to smile sincerely only when she turned 17 years.
During one of the auditions, a scout of the Viva Model Management agency noted the girl and invited her to the audition of the French agency to Moscow. The appearance of the Slavic beauty enchanted the French, and further, the events developed by the script of the real fairy tale. After several months Natalia Vodianova went to Paris where she began her model career.
In 1999 Natalia Vodianova was noticed by Jean Paul Gaultier at one of the contests. Right after the contest, the famous couturier offered the beginning Russian model a job. The beginning of the career was not easy for Natalia. The competition was improbable, and she spent all the money she earned on food and rent of the apartment.
The Russian Cinderella also had her so-called Godfather. The Russian beauty got help from the wealthy Frenchman, who was a doctor for his specialty. He sheltered the young girl and solved a number of her household problems. Moreover, he helped Natalia to focus on the studies of English language and her work. He is still her friend and later he even became the godfather of the child of Vodianova.
After participation of the Russian model in the New York Haute Couture Fashion Week Natalia Vodianova got a lot of offers. And soon she began to take part in the fashion parades of Gucci, Yves Saint-Laurent, Calvin Klein. The model took part in the photoshoots for famous editions of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar.
In 2001 Natalya for the first time tried herself in the cinematography. She took part in the movie "CQ". Later the filmography of the model was replenished with four more pictures, but Natalia had not got really memorable roles. The podium brought her greater popularity than the movies.
In 2002 Vodianova became the most demanded model at the New York Fashion Week. There she performed for nineteen designers at once. At the same time, Natalia became "the face and the body" of Calvin Klein which had signed the contract with the Russian model. This very year the girl opened and closed the fashion shows of Yves Saint-Laurent collections which are considered to be the most prestigious in the fashion world.
But the true triumph for the girl from the backwoods was a shooting for the Pirelli calendar for the year 2004. Only the most beautiful women of the world are honored with such a chance. Natalia Vodianova, according to the data of Sunday Times, entered the third hundred of the most wealthy people of Great Britain. So, in 2003 the model earned more than 3,6 million pounds sterling.
In 2007 it became known that Vodianova had become the official face of the legendary French Fashion House of Chanel. She visited fashion shows collections in Paris, but what was remarkable that the fashion house hadn't commented on their choice in any way. Natalia became the face of the autumn collection of cosmetics.
At the beginning of 2008, already in the status of the mother of many children, Natalia Vodianova declared that she was leaving the model business. She decided to dedicate herself to her family, children, and charity. Natalia's appearance at the fashion show of the Haute Couture Valentino collection became the last one in her official career of the model.
Nevertheless, Natalia appears on the podiums from time to time and participates in some fashion shows as the invited star for very big fees.
In 2009 Natalia got the job of the co-host of the semi-final of the international musical competition "Eurovision" which was taking place in Moscow. Andrey Malakhov became the second host.
The love for children influenced all the activities of Natalia. In 2013 she became the new TV host of the popular children's show "The Voice. Children", also she admitted to the press that she had come to this show only because she loved children very much. Dmitry Nagiyev became the co-host of the model.
Natalia is an active participant in various large sporting events. So, in 2014 she participated in the presentation of "Sochi-2014" which was taking place in Vancouver. Later, she became the participant of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Sochi. Also, Natalia Vodianova became the host at the drawing ceremony for the qualifying tournament of the FIFA World Cup of 2018.
The popularity and large income have let Natalia think of well-being not only of her own family but also of all the world around. Vodianova became the active philanthropist. Soon the charity became the integral and quite large part of the model’s life.
Vodianova had forever kept in her memory her poor and problem childhood, the disease of her sister Oksana. When the popularity and wealth have brought her to the peak of the Olympus, Natalia hadn't hardened. In 2004 the successful model with the international recognition set up her own Naked Heart Foundation for the construction of the playgrounds on the territory of Russia and abroad.
The fund is engaged not only in the construction, it also realizes informational and educational functions. Natalia remembers that her family had to live in the informational vacuum and doesn't want that the other families which have a hard life because of the disease of their child have been forced to pass through it too.
The press has connected the creation of this foundation with the sick sister of Natalia, but Vodianova told that it was her compassion that encouraged her to start working on the construction of playgrounds and not her past.
Her sister because of the fact she had autism didn’t feel isolation so deeply as little Natasha who always walked with Oksana and felt alienated from other children. By the words of Vodianova, in childhood nobody wants to stand out, it's a prerogative of the teenagers and adults, and in childhood, everybody wants to be together and to be similar therefore Natalia got engaged in the construction of such places where all the children would be able to play together.
The logo for the foundation was developed and designed by the first husband of Natalia Vodianova - Justin Portman. For the short period of time, the foundation has built more than a hundred of playgrounds and parks in 68 cities of Russia.
In 2011 Natalia opened one more charity program "Each Child is Worth Having a Family". This program deals with the problems of children with special developmental needs which primary activity is directed to change the existing system in Russia where more and more families leave children with special needs.
In 2015 the scandal had burst out. The sister of the well-known model was offended and kicked out from park cafe. The girl has a specific appearance and behavior because of her diagnosis, which, according to the management of the cafe, frightened other visitors. The unpleasant conflict had broken out. Oksana's mother had even called the police to punish the offenders of her daughter. The case concerning violation of honor and dignity was filed against the representatives of the cafe. Various stars and world media had got interested in this conflict and supported Vodianova and her sister.
According to the words of the representatives of the cafe, everything looked absolutely in a different way. As it is written in the press, the girl wanted to drink something and she came behind the bar counter and when someone tried not to let her in the office space and directed her to space for the visitors, she began to beat her head against the wall. After that, they suggested to call an ambulance for Oksana and asked them to leave the cafe. The girl allegedly continued to beat her head, and then sat on the floor. Her companions didn’t explain this situation in any way and the waiters didn't know how to react.
According to the staff of the cafe, nobody had offended Oksana, they offered to call an ambulance as the girl had behaved strangely, and nobody was sure that she hadn't hurt herself. Moreover, it was said that nobody had tried to kick her out of the cafe.
The scandal had caused a public response. The celebrities and journalists began to speak publicly about the problems and difficulties of disabled people. Vodianova as an activist and philanthropist confessed that there turned out to be some positive points in this unpleasant situation with her sister.
The country had practically been divided into two camps in this question, and everyone had his own arguments and reasons. On the one hand, lots of people supported Vodianova, they consider that people with special needs have to receive the same services and the same attitude, as all other people. But there were also those who asked a reasonable question of danger. The behavior of the girl which resulted in the scandal was dangerous, at least, for herself, and nobody in the cafe knew whether the child with mental disorders could become dangerous for other visitors.
Such resonance had kept all the participants of the conflict off-balance. In respond to the questions of the journalists the mother of Natalia and Oksana asked to leave her child in peace. The employees of the cafe and the nearest entertaining places and canteens began to avoid the press and the scandalous cafe was closed. After such a scandal this cafe underwent numerous inspections which revealed a great number of violations. The management said that they had no more violations, than the nearest cafes, but they had just got in the middle and had become the hostages of the situation.
Natalia herself urged the press not to demonize the administration of the cafe. She met with the offenders of the sister and tried to talk quietly about the situation. Two parties understood each other. As the model told the press, these people were not bad or cruel, they had behaved like this because of such unexpected situation as all the Russian society isn't adapted for communication with disabled people and people with special needs.
As is custom for true Cinderella, the prince appeared in the personal life of Natalia Vodianova. In Paris, at one of the private parties, Natalia got acquainted with the collector of pictures and a freelance artist Justin Portman. The 33-year-old English aristocrat and the Russian model didn’t like each other at once. Their acquaintance was marked by a very loud quarrel. But next day Portman called Vodianova, apologized and offered her to meet. Since then they had become a couple.
At the beginning of 2001, the model went to the photoshoot to Africa. The English aristocrat also traveled together with his Russian darling. Natalia returned to Europe being pregnant. At the moment of the bearing of their son Justin Portman was near Natasha.
Their first child Lucas was born in London, and six weeks after his birth Vodianova appeared on the podium. The motherhood hadn’t affected the appearance of the supermodel in any way. Young mother continued to work hard, but Justin and Lucas were near her everywhere.
Natalia Vodianova and Justin Portman got married after their son's birth. They registered their marriage on the 1st of September, 2002 in St. Petersburg. The celebration was absolutely great. They celebrated it with all the heart and in the Russian manner and the celebrations lasted for three days. The reception for the honored guests was organized in Peterhof. The Throne-room of the Grand Palace was rented for the newly-married couple and their guests and even the fountains were not working.
The guests were entertained by the ballet dancers of the Mariinsky Theatre. Soon the couple gave birth to their daughter Neva, and in 2007 their son Viktor was born.
But every fairy tale comes to an end. The relations of Natalia Vodianova and Justin Portman ended with a divorce. The journalists consider that the reason for their divorce was the fact that Natalia had met her new love. The French billionaire, the son of the owner of LVMH concern Antoine Arnault and Natalia Vodianova got acquainted in 2007, however, they started their romantic relations only in 2011. For the first time, Natalia appeared in public together with Arnault, still being in the marriage with Portman.
In August 2013, Natalia Vodianova took a new path in her personal life: she accepted Antoine's offer to move from London to noisy Paris. On the 2nd of May, 2014 their son Maxim was born to Natalia Vodianova and Antoine Arnault. And in June of 2016, their son Roman was born who became the fifth child of Vodianova.
Natalia Vodianova at present
Vodianova regularly observes a diet and she has even put her children on the diet. Having a height of 176 centimeters she weighs from 45 to 50 kg, but Natalia doesn't demand from her own children to comply with the model standards. Their mother has chosen for them some soft diets directed to the health improvement.
In the interview for the British editions, Natalia explained her methods of upbringing and education with the fact that it is important to monitor the weight and eating habits from the very early age because the habit of what you eat and when you eat remains with the children for the rest of their life. Vodianova doesn't demand from her children to follow some strict diets and doesn't starve them, just asks to follow the diet without various harmful products and with a reduced amount of sweet things.
At present Natalia continues to work. She began to take part in activities of her foundation, she appeared again on the podium just three months after the birth of her younger child and demonstrated her magnificent figure. Natalia wrote about her decision to finish her maternity leave early on her Instagram.
In 2017 Natalia Vodianova has discovered for herself the new direction of activism, she has become the face of the ecological collection of the H&M brand. The girl posed in the light dress made of pleated fabric. But not only the exterior of clothes was special, but also its material. The dress, as well as other garments in this collection, is made of the new material Bionic, in other words, of the recycled waste found in the oceans and in the coastal zone.