Icons: Natalia Vodianova

Natalia Vodianova

GIFT

Natalia Vodianova, one of the world’s top-earning models according to Forbes, has challenged the world’s perception of the modeling profession. Growing up in a poor family in Russian city Nizhny Novgorod, she helped her mother sell fruit on the street until she enrolled in a modeling academy at the age of 15, moving to Paris at 17 and becoming famous. Since then she has made giving back her mission in life, and has been inspiring the fashion community to join her in it. According to Natalia’s friend and supporter Diane Von Furstenberg, “She is an old soul and growing up in Russia with her family, she was the provider, even as a child. Natalia is a provider. She is a person who takes charge for herself but also for others.”

 

MESSAGE

Beautiful inside and out, Natalia is setting an example of a strong, determined, and independent young woman (she is only 30 years old) who gives back. In an interview to CNN, she said: “I think protecting your family and giving to them is so important. It’s the most important achievement.” Separated from British Lord Justin Portman, she still puts her family and kids first, and supports hundreds of other families through her philanthropy.

Natalia Vodianova at “Every Child is Worth a Family” Forum in Moscow, Russia

CAUSE

A mother of three and a philanthropist, Natalia Vodianova has always been involved in kids’ charities and in 2005, founded Naked Heart Foundation, through which she supports disadvantaged children living in urban Russia by building playgrounds in some of the poorest parts of the country. Natalia Vodianova’s involvement in her charity is well beyond glamorous fundraisers with some of the most well-known celebrities in attendance (raising up to $6 million): she has gone to some of the most unstable and remote parts of the country, showing her personal dedication and determination when it comes to causes that she supports. Vodianova’s goal is to build 500 play parks across Russia.

Natalia and Her Kids on the Cover of Vogue Russia

She has also recently launched a charity shoe line, dubbed Fairytale, for Centro, a Russian low-cost shoe retailer, to benefit the Naked Heart Foundation. “The idea is that when a woman buys a pair of shoes, she’s contributing back to her community, maybe to her own child,” she said. Go Natalia!

Russian It-Girls Polina Kitsenko, Elena Perminova, Miroslava Duma, Ulyana Sergienko, and Vika Gazinskaya Wearing Natalia’s “Fairytale” Shoes During Paris Fashion Week

STYLE

One of those models who looks stylish and feminine on and off the runway, Natalia stays true to her chic style type and isn’t afraid to experiment with bold designs for special events.