Natalia Vodianova was born on 28 February 1982 in Nijni Novgorod, an industrial city located 500 km from Moscow, Russia. At the age of 11 and as the oldest of three girls, Natalia had to help her mother, who juggled running a fruit and vegetable stall with caring for her youngest disabled daughter Kristina.
Spotted by a modelling agency at the age of 15, Natalia was convinced that this was her only chance for a better life.
Learning English in record time, she moved to Paris and, at the age of 17, signed a contract with Viva.
Her modelling career began at Elle France, but she was soon involved in advertising campaigns for Gucci, Miss Sixty and Marc Jacobs, among others. It was at this time that she met her husband-to-be Justin, a member of the British aristocracy, in the Georges restaurant near the Pompidou Centre in Paris.
A year later, their first child Lucas was born and a few months later Natalia and Justin got married in Saint Petersburg.
They then settled in New York and Natalia was finally able to pay for the best medical treatment available for her youngest sister. At last, she saw her dream of giving her family a better life come true.
Natalia then went on to become the face of L’Oréal Paris and Calvin Klein.
While pregnant with her second child, Natalia posed on the cover of Vogue France. In March 2006, she gave birth to a baby girl called Neva. Vogue France once again asked her to pose on the cover, this time with her daughter.
Natalia has never forgotten her roots and works tirelessly to improve conditions for Russian children. In her hometown of Nijni Novgorod, she has funded the construction of a play area for children with disabilities. Her charitable work now extends throughout Russia thanks to her foundation “The Naked Heart” (www.nakedheart.org). Founded in 2005, it receives support from celebrities such as Bono, Karl Lagerfeld, Scarlett Johansson, Lucy Liu, M. Valentino and Diana Von Furstenberg. On 14 February 2008, she organised a charity auction at Christies in Moscow that raised over 6 million dollars.
While pregnant with her son Viktor, Natalia posed on the cover of Vogue US. This was an exceptional event as, until then, only actresses had ever made the front cover of this prestigious magazine.