On Monday, Irina Shayk will appear in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit issue, marking her 10th time in the annual editorial special. She becomes the third model ever to make ten appearances in the issue. Shayk, who started her fashion week with the “Zoolander 2” premiere last Tuesday, is also the rare mannequin who has conquered both the swimsuit modeling world and the fashion arena, having walked for Marc Jacobs, Diane von Furstenberg and Givenchy. She also appears in Givenchy’s latest jean campaign.
The Russian model (and Bradley Cooper girlfriend), who now lives in New York’s West Village, talked with WWD from the hair and makeup chair in New York over the weekend.
WWD: Where in Russia did you grow up?
Irina Shayk: I grew up in a very small village, Yemanzhelinsk. It’s three hours from Moscow by airplane. We don’t have an airport, so you have to drive an hour and a half to the bigger city, if you want to travel by plane. My mother was a pianist and my father was a coal miner; that’s why we lived there because my village was very famous for coal mining. I have only one sister and the four of us lived in a pretty tiny apartment, less than 300 square feet.”
WWD: You just turned 30 in January; how did you celebrate?
I.S.: In general I’m not a big fan of birthdays. I didn’t really celebrate it — I guess I don’t like birthdays! I didn’t do anything special. I think I didn’t realize that I was turning 30 — I was away and when I got back to New York I found all these beautiful flowers in my apartment and I was like, “Why did people send me flowers?” And I was then like, “Oh, because it was my 30th birthday.” Definitely with age I’ve become more wise. I try to think of my age as a positive thing.
WWD: How did you get your start in modeling?
I.S.: When I was a kid I went to music school because my mom was a musician. I played piano and when my father passed away when I was 14 it was really hard for my mom to raise my sister and me by herself, so she sent me and my sister to go study marketing. My sister was always interested in beauty stuff, she wanted to know how to do makeup and hair, so she asked me to join her to go to a beauty school, and there was a model school next door. My manager came and discovered me and he asked if I wanted to go to Paris to start modeling and I was 20. I said, “Well I can’t go to Paris because I have to stay to study.” And he convinced me and I went to Paris, and that was my first year of modeling. Twenty is pretty late to start for modeling; nowadays girls are starting when they are 15.
WWD: Do you still play piano?
I.S.: Unfortunately no, because in New York there isn’t a lot of space. I haven’t trained now for six, seven years. I used to play three hours a day though.
WWD: This is your 10th appearance in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue. How has the experience changed over the years?
I.S.: To be honest, the time flew by. Today I woke up and I was like, “Wow this is my 10th year!” It’s kind of amazing. It changes every year — they take you to different locations every year. I feel like I grew up with them — they hired me back in 2007 and I didn’t really speak English back then. Not that long ago I went on YouTube and I was looking at my videos, like 2007 videos I did for Sports Illustrated, and it was hilarious. I was like, “Is this me?” It’s embarrassing.
Every time you learn something. I’ve learned a lot about being more confident with my body, because Sports Illustrated always hires girls who love their bodies, their curves, and it’s really important to love your body. My journey with them really showed me how you can be a better woman — how you can experience your body in a better way and be more confident.
WWD: What can you tell us about this year’s shoot?
I.S.: Believe it or not I haven’t seen any pictures yet. This year they brought me to Bora Bora and it was my first time in French Polynesia. I shot with a shark, I shot with a stingray — it was a lot of cool and extreme pictures. This year they also did a virtual reality video. I did two trips for them and one of them was virtual reality. Now you can buy the magazine with the glasses and you can basically experience being on set with Sports Illustrated Swimsuit models.
WWD: Tell us a bit about your CR Girls shoot modeling Yeezy Season 2.
I.S.: A couple months ago I got a call from my agency that Carine Roitfeld requested me to be part of her CR Fashion Book. She is always loyal to her girls, and she decided that I was part of her girls. They asked me to be part of the shoot and I didn’t think twice. I love the collection, it’s super cool and trendy. I was really excited that Carine was doing something like that. But it was definitely fun because she brought this legendary photographer from the Nineties, Sante D’Orazio, and she brought Yeezy, which is very cool and trendy, and she brought her favorite girls. So it was a cool combination of everything — it had some age and class. I also worked with Carine for my Givenchy jeans campaign; she’s really creative and smart. She’s part Russian by the way. So at shoots, we’re always dreaming of Russian food.