Natalia Vodianova on Guerlain, Mira Duma's Fashion Tech Lab and Jeff Koons – "Innovative concepts... with real integrity"
Exclusively on Buro 24/7
T he Supernova, Natalia Vodianova, eloquently elaborates on her life as a model, muse and mogul in this exclusive interview with Buro 24/7. Speaking with Farouk Chekoufi, watch the video as Vodianova talks about her time as the face of Guerlain complete with a sneak peek at the French beauty brand's must-have new product...
Then, read on as the Russian entreprenuer reveals that she's working with Jeff Koons to create her next philanthropic event, her opinion on the current state of fashion media (budgets and social media included) and why she loves any project Buro 24/7's Founder Miroslava Duma is apart of...
Natalia, you have been working with Guerlain for many, many years now. What's your relationship like with the House of Guerlain?
Well, as you rightly said, it's been so many years that now it's a real relationship. It doesn't feel like a job when I do days like this. I come in the morning happy to see my friends; I'd even call them family — Olivier, Isabelle, sometimes Laurent, and everyone else. It's really a mixture of pride around the incredible brand that I represent, Maison Guerlain, and pride that I work with such extraordinary people that love me and support me in my everyday life, my professional life, and also my charity life. Guerlain has always embraced my charity work and supported me along the way and together we've now raised close to Dhs4.4 million. So that's really very important.
Do you often feel like you represent the Shalimar Lady now?
I feel like myself, and I guess that's how I should feel because I am the face of Shalimar; I embody what Shalimar should feel like.
What's your favourite Guerlain product from next season's collection?
Next season, there's a couple of new products that I love; I love Aqua Nude which is very light, with a very moisturising texture and at the same time it's just a little bit more velvety. Also Aqua Nude isn't like foundation, it has a finishing effect so it's perfect for on-the-go. Plus I think the packaging is very innovative. You press, you squeeze, and then apply. So imagine a lipstick... If you think of the new KissKiss, which I love because it's also matte, it pairs beautifully with the matte of the Aqua Nude. The KissKiss colour I love is called Crazy Nude; you can use it as a stain to lightly add a little colour to your lips or you can layer it and take it from a very light, natural-looking colour to something a bit more intense — it's the same with Aqua Nude. You can layer it and get good coverage.
Do you still enjoy modeling?
Yes, l love it! My life is so challenging in terms of the work that I do, my philanthropy, and the running of it. To make something, even philanthropy, successful you must run it like a business, so when I'm the princess on the set of a Guerlain shoot and I'm taken care of and I'm praised and celebrated, it doesn't feel like work; it feels like a holiday.
What do you think about the world of fashion today? Is it not going too fast today?
I think that it's... We've experienced a lot of changes in the past ten years, which of course was due to social media and technology changing the way we consume when it comes to media, the way we consume news, the way we consume trends, the way we consume fashion. I remember when I first started we could go and shoot one story for a magazine for ten days, you know, somewhere on a trip. Now if you have a shoot over two days, it's something incredible and you have to do an incredible ten pictures. Things have become speedier because of the demand around content and because budgets are going elsewhere; they're going to social media and to different kinds of content creation. So magazines, and the fashion story, are not the only way people today buy clothes, see trends and digest what they should be wearing. They'll choose the most innovative concepts, the best products, and the most-loved brands — brands with real integrity, with incredible quality, with real history.
I feel that in the next five years, the headcount will go down and a lot of brands will disappear just because consumers cannot keep up with so much information.
Speaking about technology, Buro 24/7's Founder and your dear friend Mira, have just launched Fashion Tech Lab...
Yes, I love Miroslava Duma. I'm actually going to see her on Friday, she's just had her baby. And I love Buro 24/7, of course, as do I love any project that is Mira is apart of. She's launched a fund, a big fund, a Dhs184 million fund, which will be investing into an innovative fashion-meets-tech project. She's invested in growing artificial leather. She's going to invest in more projects like this. One of them is a diamond. The diamond isn't a fake diamond; it's a lab-grown diamond. There's a big difference! Basically, it's a synthetic diamond, but it's going to be just like a real diamond. It's like pearls — when artificial pearls were launched people said they're fake pearls, but today you're not going to find a real pearl in the business. It's the same concept. It's going to take so long to grow an artificial diamond that it will have almost the same value as a real diamond. It's about change in the industry. We'll know that this diamond was created without cruelty and it's fair trade. But obviously to create a flawless diamond, even artificially, will be almost as difficult as when one is created by nature.
We'd also like to know a little bit more about your application, Elbi.
Yes, we launched it a year ago and this past year we did a collaboration with David Yurman (and H&M). We fundraised for 40 different organisations in 80 different countries. What we're trying to do is build a platform that will bring the power of the social and digital worlds that we live in today to charities and connect them with people around the world. This can only happen through tech today. We can already imagine the smart homes that we'll live in tomorrow, we're already doing our shopping smartly, we can imagine self-driving cars on the street, but when it comes to philanthropy there's nothing really that's looking at making it more smart and more personalised. This is what we're trying to do.
When it comes to philanthropy please tell us about the fundraising you did this year?
At the end of February we held the Fun Fair, an event where all of the brands present different games, a different activity, much like a fair, but it's luxurious. It's similar to a fun fair for kids, except for adults with incredible luxury brands, presented by amazing personalities and celebrities. Now we're working really hard on the next Fund Fair, which will actually be a New York edition. Guerlain is joining us again, thank you very much, and we'll do a Halloween edition in New York. We're partnering with amfAR, and it's going to be incredible because it's for Halloween. Everybody will be in costumes, everyone will be dressed up, and there will be things like the House of Horrors, which is already really popular in the Fun Fair and Luna Park. Plus the New York version is going to be even better; Jeff Koons is art-directing it!
Also, in other Guerlain news, discover why Mon Guerlain continues to fly off fragrance shelves and how Angelina Jolie became his greatest muse, in Buro 24/7 Middle East's exclusive interview with the nose of the notes.