Irina Shayk is very good in print interviews. I’ve never seen her in a video interview, so I have no idea what she’s like in that way, but in print, she comes across as very old-school Russian, someone who survived a very poor childhood and someone who enjoys her life now and never takes anything for granted. Irina covers the latest digital issue of V Magazine and she was very chatty in the interview about her early modeling days, motherhood and more. Some highlights:
How she was discovered: “First of all, I went to music school for seven years because my mom was a pianist and she really wanted me to play piano and have a love for music, and then I went to college to study marketing. I have an older sister who is two years older, and [one day] she said, ‘let’s go to this beauty school’, just to learn how to pluck your eyebrows and do little silly things. And it wasn’t like a beauty school in America or in Europe. It was like one little room with all the [local] girls and there was a modeling school in the same building next door. [One day], a scout went to the modeling school and he basically discovered me at the beauty school. I was almost 20, and he asked me ‘Do you wanna go to Paris?’ and I said yes, but I didn’t speak one word of English at [the time].
She didn’t choose the model life: “I didn’t choose to be a model. As a child, I was bullied in school because I was super skinny, I had bigger lips, and darker skin, and I loved high heels… I never wanted to become a model. I basically saw it as an opportunity to help my family because I lost my dad when I was 14, and I was raised in a family where [I had] my mom [who] worked three jobs, I have two grandmothers and a sister, so it was only women [in my house]. I felt like after I lost my dad, I [had to] become a man, you know? [Modeling] was an opportunity to get some money [to provide]—that’s how I started my career. I was living in Germany, taking the subway to do German [fashion] catalogs for 1000 euros, and [to me] that was a lot of money and [became] life-changing for me.
She won’t complain: “I can’t complain. Sometimes, when I talk to my friends who are in the same industry, I’m like ‘You don’t save lives. You don’t work in a factory.’ Sometimes it’s not easy what we do, but for me, it’s like an escape from reality. I love being on set, I love creating something, and I love people who create art because it’s a little world where we all feel safe and we’re all together. I’m so grateful to have this job because I never imagined that I would be a model one day. It was not even a [real] job in my country, [at the time].”
Her Capricorn drive: “People sometimes say ‘You’re impatient, you want too much.’ but that’s how I stay driven. When I started 15 years ago, I started off as a swimsuit model and a German catalog model. And in fashion, they put a label on you. ‘She’s too sexy, she’s too commercial.’ To break [away from] that was hard and it took so many years of hearing ‘no’, and still being driven. There is a reason why I was born in January and I’m a Capricorn because I’m very stubborn. It’s not easy to get refused and then still be like ‘okay, I’m gonna try again in one year’ because of course, I want everything now. But, I’ve learned that in the fashion industry, you just have to be patient. Sometimes you have to get a ‘no’ from 10 jobs to get one really good job. It was all a learning process.
Staying true to herself: “You know, [although] I had people who told me I needed to lose 15 pounds, dye my hair black and cut it, and be a certain way, I just decided, in the beginning, to stay true to myself. Just stick to what I think and what I feel. I always listen to the advice of my friends and people who have helped me in my career because I love to learn. It’s not like I know it all. After more than 15 years, I feel like my career is just starting! I just walked for Chanel, which I was so excited about and it took 16 years, you know? I tried to play cool, but I was almost crying backstage. So many girls came up to me and they were like ‘What are you doing here?’ And I look at them and said ‘No, what are YOU doing here?’ So many people don’t expect me [to be] shooting with certain people and being at certain shows because I was labeled from the beginning.
She doesn’t have a nanny: “You know, we don’t have a nanny, so sometimes [when my friends suggest] dinner or a concert, they always say ‘We know what Irina is going to say; we have no nanny.’ They say it’s my saving line. But we choose not to have a nanny… You know how it is–being a mom is one of the most amazing things ever. I’ve never imagined that I would enjoy it and love it so much. I feel like there is no better kind of love for anyone in this world, but the love for your child. It’s just very special. You know, my daughter has no filter. I remember this Halloween when I was dressed up as Bettie Page, she looked at me and goes ‘No, take it off. It doesn’t work.’. I kind of feel like she keeps me grounded because she says what she thinks with no filter–I love it.
She loves to work too: “I remember one day my daughter came back from kindergarten and she goes ‘oh, you’re going to work? I want you to stay.’ And she starts crying and I said ‘Do you see that we have lights on in the house and we have food [on the table]? That’s why mommy and daddy have to go to work.” I want to raise a woman and teach her how my grandmother and my mother taught me, where you have to work hard. Our daughter is being raised in different conditions, but you still need to set up boundaries. You can’t give her access to certain things [in order] for her to understand that you need to work hard to get something in your life. [After that], then I said ‘Look, mama is going to buy you a present but if she doesn’t work, we don’t have money [to buy it].’ And she goes ‘Okay, mama, go to work.’
I wonder what it’s like for Irina to raise Lea in Manhattan, with Lea’s movie-star dad, and try to set economic boundaries and teach Lea how to work for things. On one side, I bet Irina wants to give Lea everything she (Irina) never had, but on the other side… I bet Irina has big concerns that she’s raising a spoiled American girl. Then again, Bradley Cooper’s background is pretty working class too, right? Maybe they’ve figured it out. I also didn’t realize that it took 16 years for Irina to get booked to walk for Chanel. That’s incredible. Irina does have that commercial, sexy, swimsuit model look – not Chanel, but definitely Gucci and with a dash of Tom Ford.
Covers courtesy of V Magazine.
I love the interview. She seems extremely down to earth. That said, that cover is heinous. 🙁
I thought it was Julia Fox at first, lol. JF will always be known for her sharpie make up.
I’m not trying to be a jerk about her. This is a genuine question. Was she really successful and famous as a model before dating Bradley Cooper?
She was. She dated Cristiano Ronaldo before Bradley and was successful at the time.
@Summer, I definitely knew of her before I’d ever heard of Bradley Cooper.
She’s a beautiful woman but those editorial photos…what a choice to make her look like a fembot from 2722 as imagined in 1973.
Funny you should say that because even though she is undeniably gorgeous, and has a very sexy body I’ve always found her oddly unmemorable.
The fembot thing is how she looks to me- beautiful but sexless, like a walking fantasy.
Bradley’s background is absolutley not working class. He grew up a rich kid in Philly. He has talked about his Father being a self made man. But his Father Charles Cooper was a stock broker who did very well before he died.
Though I do find it interesting she says ‘we’ I wonder if that was a nod that she and BC are back together?