There’s something about Russians.
While many perceive and portray them as a staunch, frowning and cold people, Russians are often quite jovial, enjoy messing with you and will likely use cunning wit rather than slapstick humor to get a rise out of others.
They also boast some of the best genes in the world. Look around the world of celebrities and you’ll find some of the best looking people hail from Russia – notable names like Maria Sharapova and Anna Kournikova come to mind.
While the tennis world has a reputation for their Russian beauties, the modeling world has its fair share of Russian flair as well. Many of the lovely ladies you see in high end commercials often hail from Russia – and really, when you want a beautiful woman with a piercing gaze in your perfume commercial, where else would you go?
Russian beauty is an entity in it’s own right. Every culture has a unique “flavor” to their good looks, whether it’s South America’s tanned skin, Scandanavia’s blonde hair, or Canadian girls scantily clad in a snowstorm. Russian girls have an almost stoic beauty – silent, emotionless at times, but deadly – and incredibly beautiful. Kind of complex, but at the end of the day, just downright good looking.
Their models might be Russia’s greatest gift since the likes of sports star Alex Ovechkin, and even though we don’t always agree with them, we’re all on the same page with Russia when it comes to their ladies.
10. Vika Falileeva – Siberia’s Finest
Allow me to introduce you to Vika, the first of several Russian darlings you’ll be encountering as you work your way through this list. Her experience ranges from working with the likes of Elie Saab and Gianfranco Ferre to bigger brands like Giorgio Armani and Dolce & Gabbana. Falileeva hails from Siberia, which might help paint a bit of a brighter picture of a place known as a landing spot for prisoners. If Falileeva was giving the tour, though, it’d be hard not to want to tag along. Falileeva was almost never discovered – she tagged along to a modeling agency with her sister, who had an appointment, but ended up being the center of attention for the agents in the office. She hasn’t looked back since.
9. Emiliya Vishnevskaya – From Modeling To Singing
Emiliya Vishnevskaya isn’t as well known as some of the other models on this list, but one look at the picture above might explain why that shouldn’t be the case for much longer. She’s currently working with a Spanish lingerie brand, and before long she’ll likely be adding more big brand names to her resume. She’s also been featured in several magazines, and for good reason – obviously. Vishnevskaya has also been featured in Playboy and has a budding singing career, although if that doesn’t work out, falling back on her modeling career won’t seem so bad.
8. Gia Skova – The Beauty Of The Volga
One of the youngest models on the list, Gia Skova (who’s full name is Gulia Skovorodina), is the definition of “Russian bombshell”. Skova has been acting since she was 12. Along the way she won a major modeling competition (“The Beauty of the Volga”) and earned supermodel status by age 16. She worked her way into the industry at a young age and completed several successful projects across Europe (notably in Italy and France) before moving to the United States and settling in Los Angeles, where she’s continued her budding career. Expect to see a lot more of Skova over the next couple of years, and be happy about it.
7. Anna Kournikova – The “Athlete”
Ok, so she’s not a “model” in the truest sense of the word, but after much deliberation we decided that Anna Kournikova does in fact deserve a spot on the list. She’s Russian, she’s modeled, and she’s gorgeous. Meets all the criteria and passes with flying colors. Of course, we all know of Kournikova the athlete, and we know of her as a model on the most basic of levels – but she’s done some “more serious” modeling work over the years, during and post tennis career.
Kournikova will always fall into the “beautiful athlete” category, but her albeit much less impactful modeling career compared to others on this list does not take away from the fact that she certainly knows what to do in front of the camera.
6. Natalia Vodianova – The Supernova
She’s been nicknamed the “Supernova” – as appropriate a moniker as one can have.
Supermodel Natalia Vodianova was the face of Calvin Klein for a good chunk of her career, and established herself as a top-end model through her many magazine covers and work with top brands around the world.
Vodianova has also been recognized for her philanthropic work over the years, spurned on by her “rags to riches” story – one of poverty and hardship, growing up and selling fruit on the streets with her mother to make ends meet. If that doesn’t win you over, what else will?
5. Masha Novoselova – Ms. Steamy
Considered somewhat of a rising star in the supermodel world, Maria “Masha” Novoselova has everything she needs to turn “rising” star into “current” star. She’s been working with countless high-end brands, has graced the cover of several popular fashion magazines, and is represented by some of the most influential model agencies in the world. She’s been highly sought after for photo shoots and fashion shows alike for years now, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. To put it in perspective for the ladies – she’s been one of the lucky ones who gets to drape themselves all over David Beckham in one of his many steamy commercials.
Safe to say “Masha” won’t be “on the cusp of greatness” for much longer – she may have already reached it.
4. Anne Vyalitsyna – The Versatile Model
Who doesn’t love a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model?
Anne Vyalitsyna was discovered by IMG and MTV back in the early 2000’s, and after moving to the U.S, her modeling career took off.
Vyalitsyna has been in a star in SI’s famous annual volume for a decade, while also earning a reputation as a top model thanks to covers on Vogue, Elle and Glamour. She’s worked for Channel, Prada, Louis Vuitton and other high-end consumer brands. She’s also a music video darling, making notable appearances in videos by Alanis Morissette and a couple of Maroon 5 hits (she was dating Adam Levine for awhile).
She moved to New York to pursue her career, and that’s turned out to be the right decision – for everyone.
3. Natasha Poly – The Familiar Face
You’ve likely seen Natasha Poly in an H&M poster somewhere along the line, and stopped to take a second glance without tipping anyone off. Then again, there’s a laundry list of brands that might have Poly’s face attached to it, so there’s a good chance you’ve seen her on a poster or billboard somewhere along the line.
Now you have a name to go with the face. Poly has just about done it all at this point, and is as highly regarded as they come in the modeling world. High-end doesn’t begin to describe her kind of work, as she’s modeled for Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Lanvin and many other high end brands. She’s been sought out for countless advertising campaigns and has been arguably one of the busiest models over the past decade. We understand why she’s been so sought after throughout her illustrious modeling career.
2. Valentina Zelyaeva – The Vocal Model
If you were looking for the (flawless) face of Russian modeling, look no further. Valentina Zelyaeva was once one of the highest paid models in the world, and with good reason. A stunning Russian beauty, Zelyaeva has graced the covers of Vogue magazine all over the world and was most recently the face of Ralph Lauren (a fine choice by them). Zelyaeva has captured many a heart with her stunning features, and now she can likely add yours to that collection, too.
She’s also helped build her fan-base by taking a stand against the Milan Fashion Week’s ban of underweight models, speaking out against the decision and calling the decision discriminatory. Whatever side of that issue one may lie on, it’s good to see a bit of push-back on weight issues in general in the modeling world.
1. Irina Shayk – The Top Dog
Likely the most recognizable name on the list, Irina Shayk is a Sports Illustrated veteran – and legend, by most standards. Let’s face it: when Cristiano Ronaldo dates you for several years, you’re getting the legend tag in one category or another. A Victoria Secret’s angel and the cover girl for several big-name magazines including SI and Cosmo, Shayk has carved out a spot at the top of the Russian modeling totem pole – and for that we say thank you, Russia.
From music video’s with Kanye, to Letterman appearances, countless advertising campaigns and magazine covers, and a major movie role (she was Megara in Hercules), Shayk has just about done it all, and is by far the most famous Russian model on this side of the Atlantic – or Pacific, depending on how you want to look at it. Either way, one thing is for certain: coast to coast, Shayk is a fan favorite among North Americans.