Sunday, June 11, 2006

Tetyana Brazhnyk (2004)

In real life, models rarely turn out to be as you'd expect them. Tetyana Brazhnyk is no expeption. Although not yet a household name, this rising star is one to keep your eyes on. Meet the ukraine girl who really knocks us out...

With her smoldering, steely gaze and confident stride, she is the epitome of Russian cool. But meeting Tetyana B is a sweet surprise. She is both ambitious and disciplined, esp. for a 20 year-old. But despite her travels and modelling experience over the last four years, there's something refreshingly honest, even innocent, about her.

Tetyana has caught the Eurostar from Paris early this morning for fabmag's cover shoot and interview and she's radiant despite arising before dawn. Perched in the makeup chair, you notice her cerulean blue eyes, cacading hair, and pouty lips. But when T flashes her beguiling smile, her face and the entire room lights up.

Born in the Ukraine, she is the youngest of three children. It was a middle-class upbringing, T's mother works in a kindergarten, her father is an ex-policeman. She first left home at 16 to embark on a modelling career. Initially, she was not exactly up to the challenge.

-Nobody believed I could go and model. Not even me, she confesses. I didn't believe I was so beautiful. But I tired it. Then a scout from my agency came to my city in the Ukraine, took some pictures, showed them to the agency in Paris, and they chose me, she explains.

-It was hard in the beginning to model because I was on my own at such a young age. I went to Paris and was quite lonely in the beginning because there were not many Russian models at the time. I was also scared to go to Europe for the first time on my own. Now I think it's good that I did it. I am able to help my familiy financially, which is great.

Within a shorth time T's move paid off: she appeared in Vogue,Glamour,W and Marie Claire. Campaigns for Sonia Rykiel, La Perla, Helena Rubenstein and Etro followed. Simultaneously, the winsome Brazhnyk has graced many a catwalk... [ok skipping to name those]

Does she prefer the catwalk or photo shoots?
-The catwalk, she replies without hesitation. Because the catwalk is more interesting to me. It's crazier and more difficult, too. But I think it's better than shooting cause there are more girls at the shows. At photo shoots, you're alone but with the shows, there are always lots of Ukraine girls to talk with. When I first started out, there was no body from that part of the world and I didn't speak good English. So it was hard. But now, I meet so many girls from there and I'm so happy.

-We all travel so much that the only chance we get to see each other is at the shows. Plus the catwalk shows are just so much fun. So many nice people in one place.

T. mentions her familiy several times during our chat, and informs me that she returns home whenever she has time off.

-I try to go home every three months,she says, as the hair stylist places a delicate bauble on the crown of her head.

-When I have a week off, I go right away.Someday, I would like to go back to live there. I would also like to have house in Ukraine, and one in Sweden or Finland because it's beautiful and reminds me of Russia. I just love my country.

How did she meet her Russian husband, Valerie?
-Actually, he found me in Ukraine, she says with a wide grin. He was working for an agency as a scout, We were friends for one year, then became boyfriend and girlfriend. We got married ten months ago in Paris.

It was an intimate, small ceremony with both the bride's and groom's families in attendence. T wore a white trouser suit, her hair a mass of wild curls, She informs me that they plan to have another wedding, one that will be a bit more traditional.

-Im going to do another wedding in a church. because it's very important to me to have it in a church back home. So we're going to do that soon.

On the subject of her husband, T informs me that their free time is spent together, mostly relaxing at home in front of the TV, with Valerie doing the cooking.

-I dont cook myself, only because I left home so early and I never have time now to learn. But my husband cooks for me and he can make Russian food.

T. is a non-smoker and tells me that she maintains her health as best she can.

-I do take care of myself. I never smoke and I don't drink much. I will have red wine once in a while and vodka only when I go back home. I also like to sleep, a lot! And when I'm not working, no high heels and not much makeup either. I try to rest my skin. When I go out, I wear a little mascara, and a little of this and that, but not too much of anything.

On the catwalk and in front of the camera, T is a true chameleon, moving effortlessly from Victorian waif, to punk princess, to femme fatale. She's a big fan of fesigners like Chole, Karl Lagerfeld, Prada and Miu Miu and when she's not working, T tends to experiement with her personal style.

-I like so many different looks she explains. I like being sexy, sometimes I like being like a little girl, sometimes I like being funky. I don't like to wear the same things every day.

During our interview, she assures me that although she enjoys modelling very much, at some point, she hopes to have a baby. The short-term plan, according to her modelling agency, is for T to relocate to N.Y. for most of the year. She admits that she doesn't really prefer be the focus of attention, which is why she feels more comfortable on the catwalk than at photo shoots.

-I'm just a normal girl, nothing special, from the Ukraine, she explains without a trace of false modesty. But I'm so excited to do this today, I'm so happy, she adds earnestly. Then she is spirited away to finish preparing for our shoot, and gets back to the business of being beautiful.


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