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Valery Kaufman bursts into the room all smiles and air-kisses. One would never guess that the 18-year-old had just finished an impressive New York Fashion Week run, including the catwalks of Narciso Rodriguez, Peter Som and Rebecca Taylor. “I’m not tired at all. It was crazy, but I loved it,” said the Marilyn model, arriving with her mom in tow. Just 24 hours before jetting off to Milan for the first time, the Russian beauty sat down with WWD to talk NYFW.
WWD: You’ve had a big week. When did you find out that you’d be opening DKNY?
Valery Kaufman: I was leaving a fitting and one of the designers was like, “Valery, you’re opening the show.” It was so crazy. Then [right before I walked on the runway], I was thinking, “OK Valery, it’s your shot.” I was so nervous and excited at same time. It’s these feelings that you can’t explain. I was scared before the show, but now I’m superexcited to go out and just show myself, and show the clothes.
WWD: It must have been nice to have your mom here all week.
V.K.: She loved the Narciso Rodriguez show. The security was tough, but I was like “Oh my God, my mom wants to see it so much,” so we got her in there. All of the photographers were taking her picture, and they were asking her: “Are you…?” My mom was like “Yeah, maybe.” And Narciso, gave me some perfume and said, “Mrs. Kaufman, one of these is for you as well.”
WWD: Which designers were you the most excited to work with?
V.K.: Phillip Lim was really nice and he gave us a lot of treats — I got two pairs of shoes, and this coat with fur. Vivienne Tam had carrot cake backstage. Food is great, but I don’t like it when it’s only sandwiches. If you have carrot cake, then I’m like, “Oh my God.” I also worked with the Olsens. They were so nice, They were like, “Thank you for working for us,” and I just thought “Oh gosh, are you talking to me? Do you want to take a picture?”
WWD: You don’t seem tired at all. Where does all your energy come from?
V.K.: I listen to music a lot. I listen to Justin Bieber — I still love him. Sometimes I’ll go out just for dinner or take a walk with friends, but never to a party. It’s not my thing. You have to be inspired and dedicated to your job, so it just doesn’t work.
WWD: That’s good advice — any other words of wisdom?
V.K.: You just have to know that you can’t keep things under your control, so you have to always be ready. One day it was like [8 p.m.], I was putting on my glasses and my hair into a crazy bun, but I looked at my phone and it was like “fitting for Phillip Lim.” I was like “Oh my God, right now? I’m like disaster, I can’t go anywhere.” But I’m happy to do what I’m doing, and that I’m able to do this. I’m just enjoying it — I’m having fun and keeping a smile on my face.
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