She is a model, an investor, a mother to 5 children and the wife of Antoine Arnault, the son of LVMH’s CEO. She was awarded by Harper’s Bazaar as Philanthropist of the Year and even established a foundation to build hundreds of playgrounds for children in her own country. With her extraordinary talent and high emotional intelligence, her story has paralleled the story of a live-action Cinderella.
Her name is Natalia Vodianova, born in a village near Moscow. She was abandoned by her father at the age of 2 and left alone with her mother and 2 younger sisters. Their only source of income was a fruit stall.
With a poor family and a sister with cerebral palsy, Natalia began to help her mother carry fruit from the age of 11. She would sell dozens of boxes of fruit on the street each day. Natalia’s strong female character thus started to be shaped and formed.
At the age of 15, Natalia opened a fruit stall with a friend and she was lucky to be discovered by a Paris talent scout, who told her, “You should go to the fashion capital of Paris, but you must learn English in 3 months.”
3 months later, no one could have imagined that the girl from the fruit stall could learn English in such a short time and fly to Paris, the capital city of the amazing fashion industry. She joined a modelling school and 2 years later signed on with the famous VIVA modelling agency. This opened the door to her modelling career, where she modelled for LV, Marc Jacobs, CK and many others.
In 2001, Natalia, 19 at the time, got married with Justin Portman, an artist— the third son of Edward Henry Berkeley Portman, the late viscount of Britain. Portman is one of Britain’s most prominent families, owning a 110-acre estate in Oxford street, the heart of London. Soon they had children—a girl and two boys.
After joining the royal family, Natalia Vodianova kept her modelling career. In the short span of 4 years, Natalia was best remembered for her commercials for Calvin Klein as well as other brand like Gucci, DKNY, Max Mara to YSL.
She announced her retirement from modelling in 2007 and 3 years later, her marriage with Justin Portman came to an end. Three months after their divorce, Natalia went public with LVMH’s prince Antoine Arnault in 2011.
You may not know who Antoine Arnault is, but you have most likely heard of luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton.
LVMH, full name Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy, was formed in 1987 through the merger of Louis Vuitton and Moet Hennessy by Bernard Arnault, Antoine’s father, net worth up to $112 billion(RM 470 billion). It employs about 56,000 people and owns more than 50 brands, making it the largest boutique group in the world today.
In 2008, Natalia met Antoine while shooting an advertisement for Louis Vuitton. Later, the Louis Vuitton prince recalled, “when I saw her for the first time, my jaw was ‘shocked’.” He praised Natalia, calling her beautiful and shining, like a star.
Natalia’s life probably appears to the public like a story of fairy tales, but it all definitely comes from her hard work and dedication.
Info via Ink Newspaper