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Natalia Vodianova
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Natalia Vodianova Natalia Vodianova Natalia Vodianova Natalia Vodianova Natalia Vodianova

Natalia Vodianova (Russian: Наталья Михайловна Водянова) was born on the 28th of February 1982 in Gorky, Soviet Union before the name was changed to Nizhny Novgorod, Russia when the USSR broke up. Natalia is a highly successful Russian model and philanthropist who has made the United Kingdom her permanent residence. In 2012, she came in 3rd place on the Forbes top-earning models list with estimated earnings of $8.6 million in a single year. Vodianova grew up in a poor district of the city with her mother and two half sisters, one of whom has cerebral palsy. As a teenager, Vodianova helped her mother sell fruit on the street and later set up her own fruit stand with a friend to help her family out of poverty. Vodianova's father walked out on the family when she was a toddler, and she did not have any further contact with him until after she had become famous.

When she was 15 years old Vodianova enrolled in a modelling academy and by the time she was 17, she had moved to Paris where she signed with Viva Models. Vodianova has become considerably successful as a runway, editorial and advertising campaign model. To date, Vodianova has taken part in more than 175 runway shows for American and European based designers' ready-to-wear and haute couture collections. She has appeared in editorial layouts in fashion magazines globally and has completed advertising campaigns for Versace, Diane von Fürstenberg, Chanel, Guerlain, Givenchy, Calvin Klein, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent, L'Oréal, David Yurman, Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney, Etam and several others. Natalia was photographed by Steven Meisel for the September 2004 cover of American Vogue as one of the Models of the Moment. As of May 2009, Vodianova has appeared on the cover of British Vogue seven times beginning with the September 2003 issue. She made her first cover appearance on the U.S. Vogue Magazine in the September 2004 edition alongside eight other models and then appeared solo on the cover of the July 2007 edition of the magazine. At that time, other covers of American Vogue have all featured non-model celebrities with only three other exceptions. The exceptions were supermodels Linda Evangelista, Liya Kebede and Gisele Bündchen.

In the Spring of 2009 she entered into a three-year contract to be a brand ambassador for the French lingerie company Etam and will design a lingerie collection each of the three seasons. The collections will be marketed under the brand Natalia pour Etam. Vodianova was ranked 14th in the United Kingdoms channel Five television program - World's Greatest Supermodel in 2005. Forbes magazine estimates Vodianova earned $4.5 million (USD) between August 2006 and July 2007, $4.8 million (USD) between May 2007 and April 2008 and $5.5 million (USD) between June 2008 and June 2009, making her the seventh highest earning model worldwide during all three time periods. In May of 2009, Natalia co-hosted the semi-finals of the Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow. On the 12th of December 2009, she was designated an ambassador of the Sochi 2014 Winter Games, becoming the upfront face and key advocate of Russia’s first Winter Games. In 2010, she appeared at the Vancouver Olympic Closing Ceremony within that role.

In 2001, Vodianova made a brief appearance in Roman Coppola’s film CQ with Billy Zane. In 2010, she portrayed Medusa in the 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans. In October 2010, Vodianova landed her first leading acting role in a film adaptation of Albert Cohen's 1968 novel Belle du Seigneur, directed by Glenio Bonder and co-starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers. It is scheduled for release in 2012. In 2010, she was named in Tatler’s top 10 best-dressed list.

Vodianova is a founder and the president of the Naked Heart Foundation, a philanthropic organisation that strives to provide a safe and inspiring environment in which to play for every child living in urban Russia. She was inspired to found the charity after visiting Russia with her son Lucas and finding there were no suitable places for children to play. The organisation built its first play park in 2006 in Nizhny Novgorod. It has since built nearly 38 more. She also lends her support to a number of philanthropic causes, such as the (Bugaboo)RED campaign, an initiative to help eliminate AIDS in Africa. She has also become an ambassador for Hear the World, a global campaign that seeks to raise awareness of the topic of hearing and hearing loss and to promote good hearing all over the world. Natalia is also a spokeperson for the Tiger Trade Campaign, an alliance of 38 organisations united under the common aim of bringing back wild tigers by stopping trade in tiger parts and products from all sources. In an interview supporting the campaign, Vodianova stated:

"I'm proud that Russia, my country, is home to the most magnicifent of animals, the wild Siberian Tiger. Today it is up to us to protect this tiger and its home. With fewer than 350 Siberian tigers remaining in the wild and no more than 3,400 tigers surviving anywhere in the world, we must act now or we will see the extinction of the wild tiger within our lifetime."

In honour of her philanthropic achievements, Harper's Bazaar awarded Vodianova the award for Inspiration of the Year in November 2010. Natalia met Justin Portman, half-brother of the 10th Viscount Portman, a British property heir, former artist and chess organizer at a Paris dinner in 2001. They were married in November of 2001 when she was 8 months pregnant and in September of 2002, over nine months after registering the marriage in the United Kingdom, they had a wedding ceremony in St. Petersburg. Natalia and her husband have three children - sons Lucas Alexander, Viktor and daughter Neva. Viktor is named after Vodianova's grandfather, who had helped raise her after her father's departure. Neva is named after the Russian river called the Neva. Separating in February 2010, Vodianova and Portman announced their separation in June 2011. She is currently in a relationship with Antoine Arnault, son of businessman Bernard Arnault and the head of communications for luxury brand Louis Vuitton.

Natalia's charitable foundation can be seen at: www.nakedheart.org

Natalia Vodianova - Interview for Vogue Italia




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