- Irina Shayk
Irina Shayk has an incredibly impressive modeling resume, and she’s now even breaking into acting. Irina was born in Yemanzhelinsk, Russia, and while her mother was Russian, her father was a Volga Tatar, born of that Turkic ethnic group that is native to Russia’s Volga-Ural region. This is of note because the Volga Tatars tend to have darker skin tones, and Irina often credits her father’s genes for her olive skin and stunning looks, saying that she got her contrasting light eyes from her mother.
Irina’s start as a model began when she won the Miss Chelyabinsk beauty pageant at 18 years old, and print work came strong and steady. She has been the face (and body) of numerous merchants and labels, most notably as a Victoria’s Secret Angel, and the first Russian to be on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
- Tatiana Kovylina
Tatiana Kovylina was born in Kazan, Soviet Union, and she also donned the famous Angel wings for Victoria’s Secret, appearing in print campaigns and on the extremely exclusive Victoria’s Secret runway for their annual live show. She’s also appeared in print ads for such esteemed fashion houses as Ann Taylor, Calvin Klein Jeans, Cole Haan, and Givenchy. Tatiana also appeared in the music video for Duran Duran’s single “Falling Down”.
- Katia Elizarova
Katia Elizarova was born in Saratov, Russia, where she was recruited into modeling by a scout at 14 years old. Her great-grandfather was married to Vladimir Lenin’s sister, and her grandfather was a former head of the KGB. Katia studied ballet at the world-renowned Bolshoi, and she traveled extensively as a teenager working in the fashion capitals of London, Paris, Milan and Tokyo.
Katia eventually made London her home, where earned a law degree at Queen Mary College, University of London, while continuing to rise to fame. Notable campaigns include Commes des Garcons, Calvin Klein, Chanel, Valentino, Versace, Swarovski, L’Oréal, Rimmel, and of course Katia has donned the wings for Victoria’s Secret as well.
She’s also acted on the London stage and appeared on Fox UK’s reality show “Meet the Russians”, about Eastern Europeans living in London. Katia makes her international cinematic debut in the upcoming feature film Our Kind of Traitor, directed by Susanna White.
- Irina Antonenko
All of the women listed here possess exemplary beauty, but Irina Antonenko is the only one who has earned a national crown for it. She won the title of Miss Russia 2010, and also placed in the top 15 of that year’s Miss Universe pageant. Born in Sverdlovsk, now Yekaterinburg, Russia, Irina entered her first beauty pageant in high school, but she didn’t even place in the top three.
She studied finance after high school, began modelling professionally, and finally had pageant success when she was named Miss Yekaterinburg in 2009, which led to competing at the national level. Irina has walked the runways for such designers as Philipp Plein, Olga Deffi, Alina Assi, Ilya Shiyan, Irina Natanova and Vyacheslav Zaitsev. Crossing over into acting work, she appeared in the film The Darkest Hour, and on the television programs “The Ship,” “Surprise for the Beloved,” “Weddings Will Not Be,” “The Ship 2,” and “Golden Cage.” She has also appeared on Russia’s iteration of “Dancing With the Stars.”
- Eugenia Volodina
Eugenia Volodina was born in Kazan and she began her modeling career at 14 as well, although she was not an immediate success, being rejected at an agency open call. Two years later, she was recruited by an agency in Paris, where she emigrated to kick start her career. An early break was being featured in Italian Vogue, shot by world-class photographer Steven Meisel, and career highlights so far include modeling for Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, Bloomingdale’s, Louis Vuitton, Neiman Marcus, Kenzo, Hermès, Bill Blass, Versace, Valentino, Zac Posen, Salvatore Ferragamo, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, Oscar de la Renta, Jean Paul Gaultier, Vittadini, and Céline.
And of course, Victoria’s Secret.
Images courtesy of Instagram.