You might recognize Kate Bogucharskaia’s face from any number of recent ads: Dolce & Gabbana, MSGM, Joe Fresh and Oscar de la Renta (she’s been in three of the brands’ campaigns to date). In her two and a half years of modeling, she’s also walked all the top shows — Carolina Herrera, Giorgio Armani, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs among them. The 5-foot, 11-inch beauty from the small village of Pestravka, Russia, was working as a florist in a nearby city when she was discovered by an agent at a local museum, and it took her six months before she finally gave in and booked a ticket to the agency’s headquarters in Moscow. Modeling had never previously occurred to Bogucharskaia, who insisted she was the “ugly duckling” while growing up.
“It was awkward at some points, because when I first started, I couldn’t even speak English,” she explained. “My agents would be like, ‘Kate, you have to go to this casting. Kate, do you understand?’ I was like… [she imitated a shy face]. It was so hard. But I really wanted to speak, so I started to watch a lot of movies.”
Bogucharskaia, who recently celebrated her 21st birthday and is repped by Next Management, stopped by WWD’s offices on a recent afternoon to talk acting classes, her favorite books and quitting smoking (all in perfect English).
WWD: Tell me how you got started in modeling.
Kate Bogucharskaia: When I left home, I was 14. I left my small village to study flowers. I started working in a flower shop with a florist when I was 16. There was a museum in town showing [an exhibition] of flowers. I went to see it and there was a casting agent there. I met him on the stairs and he was like, “Are you here for a casting? Do you want to be a model?” I was like, “No, what’s a casting?”
WWD: What happened next?
K.B.: After he took my phone number, they were calling me for six months to come to Moscow. I was so scared, I had never been in Moscow before. After six months, I had just finished reading this book, “The Sacred Book of the Werewolf” [by Victor Pelevin] and I decided I wanted to see Moscow, so I went. The agents told me I could travel and see the world. In two weeks, I left for Milan and started modeling.
WWD: Growing up, had you ever considered modeling?
K.B.: Actually, I was like the ugly duckling. I was the short and fat girl. I didn’t even think about it. In my village, there is no modeling. Of course, when I was young I wanted to be an actress or a singer — I wanted to do everything. I definitely was a creative arts person. I think I [studied flowers] more for my mom than for myself. She loved flowers — and I love my mom. But I’ve always liked art, photography, movies.
WWD: Was your family supportive of your career?
K.B.: I started to live alone at 14, so my mom was always like, “You have your head on your shoulders. I trust you. You know what’s best for yourself.” My mom is always posting photos on her Facebook of me. She is super proud. I have an older brother, he’s 26 now and he’s a policeman in Russia. I respect my mom and brother and family, but I can’t say that I was ever really close to my family. I always did my own thing.
WWD: Where do you live now?
K.B.: I moved [to New York] almost a year ago. I live in Chinatown. [The neighborhood] is a bit too much, but for now it’s okay, because I’m traveling to Europe, to L.A. a lot. I really want to move to the West Village.
WWD: What do you like to do for fun?
K.B.: I love to spend time alone. I love to read books. I’ve read J.D. Salinger, Kurt Vonnegut, philosophy books…The last book I was reading was “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol.” I love him, he’s my favorite. I’ve been reading a lot of Russian writers; I think they’re very interesting. I was also reading a book called “Truth” by Susan Batson. She’s a teacher and actor. She has her own studio here. I went to acting school here in New York for a couple of months. I think everyone should do it. It’s good to know yourself better.
WWD: What’s your favorite memory from modeling?
K.B.: I was working a lot with Billy Kidd and I always love working with him. He’s super nice and positive and I remember I met him for the first time in Paris. We were shooting for Obsession Magazine — it was super fun. He’s so different to work with. He has his own way — super easy and fast, but beautiful pictures.
WWD: You’re a big Instagrammer, I’ve noticed.
K.B.: I love Instagram. For example, I started to work with my personal trainer, Heather, and she inspired me to quit smoking. I had been smoking for two years. I wrote on Instagram, “Let’s all stop smoking.” Some people called her up and said, “I want to stop smoking, too.” I think it helps. It’s a good thing. I got a couple of jobs from Instagram.
WWD: What are some of your goals?
K.B.: I wanna do modeling for 15 more years! I have other goals, too, but I’m looking forward to seeing myself in more campaigns and shows. It’s getting hard because a lot of beautiful girls are coming, young and beautiful girls. But modeling gave me the chance to be who I am right now. I started to understand people better, and I grew up faster. I definitely want to travel a lot more. I want to see beautiful views and animals that I haven’t seen yet.