Here’s part two of our exclusive interview with Supermodel Katia Elizarova following part one over the weekend. The 26-year-old Russian-born model and lawyer tells us her beauty secrets, travel essentials, all about protecting young models coming into the industry and addressing the Oxford Union and insider gossip from London Fashion week.
What are your work/travel balance essentials to get you from city to city during fashion weeks?
“It’s important not to overload your baggage with unnecessary things. Definitely shying away from diva-dom is a must! You will thank yourself when you end up dashing about with luggage between hotels, shows and airports. I have a pair of waxed black skinny jeans, black/beige high heels, a couple of dresses that need no ironing, and some t-shirts and trainers – and that is all I need. Party dresses and catwalk clothes are all supplied by the designers, so someone else gets to lug all that around. For me it’s beauty products that get a lot of space… I am very particular about my shampoos and creams, and a big fan of ‘Organic pharmacy’”.
“My hair and skin is really challenged so I need to make sure I have the best remedy. I can’t live without my phone and my Kindle either and I travel nowhere without them, even if it’s just to the other side of the city. I need to have some reading material and all important access to Google maps to keep me on course!”
What are the challenges facing new/young models coming into the high-end fashion industry now?
“Modelling as a career has become increasingly popular. More and more young people want to get involved, across the board, from fashion design to photography, modelling to styling – and it is really raising the quality bar in the industry. Of course with so many people wanting to get into fashion the competition is naturally higher. Modelling agencies, for example, see so many aspiring models and are very selective. Models need to be very strong-willed to deal with the rejection they may face. Everyone gets rejected, no matter who they are, but when you are starting out – you need to keep your confidence up and not take it personally. Sometimes you just aren’t the right fit. What you need to do is learn what about you makes you stand out, and if the people you want to work with will like that then you are in with a better chance. Learning the specifics of the industry according to the country you are in is really important too.”
“I am very impressed with the work of Baroness Kingsmill and Erin O’Connor to ensure young talent in the industry is protected. Erin’s model sanctuary around fashion weeks has been instrumental in offering support to the beleaguered young models and it is movements like that which help to make apartments with cockroaches and slaving work schedules a thing of the past. This is good news for young models – but the sanctuary is in dire need of help to keep going so I encourage anyone interested in fashion to offer their support http://www.erinsmodelsanctuary.com/“
How can the fashion industry improve to provide better working conditions and norms for models?
“Modelling has immensely improved from what it was like 10 years ago. However, as agencies have continued to take more and more models under management this has occasionally resulted in some real communication issues, and young people being or feeling almost abandoned. As the number of models increases it is important that agencies understand that their responsibility to look after models in their care equally increases.”
“Quite often models find themselves in very different circumstances to that which they have been used to at home when they first start travelling. It is easy to miss home and feel vulnerable in new surroundings. Some agencies shirk their responsibility to look after their models properly and I personally feel it is an absolute responsibility of an agency to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those under its charge. There are some wonderful people in the industry who understand this like my agency, but unfortunately in less well-managed agencies all too often business matters overshadow the needs of the individuals in their care, and the results can be models left alone in cities the world over, left to cope with situations well beyond their years. This is a big flaw in the industry – and one I hope to see overcome.”
What’s your biggest beauty secret?
“Balance in everything. Oh…. And words of encouragement from my family.”
Addressing the Oxford Union must have been nerve-wracking but a very proud moment? Is it important to you to smash ridiculous stereotypes that not only women, but beautiful ones are somehow ‘stupid’?
“If only I was less aware of whom I would be addressing that day in Oxford… It was immensely nerve-wracking to speak to such an intelligent crowd in the same place as so many great names who have spoken there before and since. I have an incredible respect for education, and those who pursue it. Learning has always been important to me, and that is why I continued to study at Queen Mary’s in London whilst pursuing my modeling career. I was very touched by the respect that the Union showed to me and my profession. Not only did they treat me as an expert in my industry, but also showed a big interest in fashion. Which makes sense, as it is of course a universal concern. Their curiosity and interest presented the perfect platform to challenge stereotypes, but also to voice concerns on the need to safeguard young models and the underprivileged people around the world who can be feeding the fashion monster without due recognition or reward. I will remember my trip to the Oxford Union as one of the most exciting days in my career. That day I found out that no matter what your profession is, if you work hard, intelligent people will never think you stupid.”
What career path do you plan to take when you retire from modelling?
“Who wants to retire? Even though I have been in the industry for 10 years, I’m still too young to think of that. Modelling has had a huge impact on my life and on who I am as a person. I don’t see myself cutting my links with fashion. I am always looking at projects that take me beyond pure modeling however, from being a creative consultant and brand ambassador for the latest lines from Max Studio to working in film and theatre. I would like to use my legal studies more to some extent, although to be honest they already come in handy in so many ways from drawing up contracts to solving disputes for young models that need help. Time will tell just where my career takes me, but at the moment I enjoy modelling, acting and exploring the many facets of the fashion industry.”
And, finally, tell us some juicy gossip from fashion week- has anything funny or amusing happened backstage that we wouldn’t otherwise find out about?
“Little birdies have been all a flutter backstage. Ozwald Boateng, the renowned men’s designer, has been hinting at a soon to come women’s collection. Rumour has it that it will be on show at Moscow Fashion Week, and whether or not that’s true, I for one can’t wait to see what style Ozwald can inject into women’s fashion. He’s a British fashion great!”
Keep up with Katia and her experiences in the fashion world on her Facebook page.http://www.facebook.com/katiaelizarova