• so rudeness is clearly not an issue. After a warm hug, she excuses herself so that she can make herself look "less dead". There go vanity and standoffishness.

    We begin, naturally, with shoes. Vodianova is wearing a pair of chic gray pumps from a line she has designed for the Russian footwear retailer Centro, available to buy this spring at NET-A-PORTER. "The brand has the scale to make a big difference with this collaboration," she explains. "But they also understand that it's not just about throwing a party and telling everyone you've got Natalia Vodianova designing shoes. We're working together to make sure that the real message is not lost."

    That message lies in Vodianova's Naked Heart Foundation, founded in 2004 and the beneficiary of all profit from the Centro range. It builds play parks in deprived areas, so that "little girls and boys can play in their local community". The catalyst was the Beslan school siege in 2004. Aged 22, Vodianova watched the tragedy

    “WHY did I have this CHILDHOOD; why did I have this SUCCESS? The questions were PAINFUL for me”

    unfold from afar and felt compelled to act. "It was psychological. Why did I have this childhood; why did I suddenly have this profound success? The questions were very painful for me. The siege was the spark that started the fire."

    Living in New York at the time, with then-husband Justin Portman, she called her friend, Diane von Furstenberg, who gave her a space to work in and helped her to expand her contacts. Vodianova cajoled friends in the fashion and art worlds to donate for a charity auction, raising $350,000.

    "As a child, my biggest issue was about where to go with my disabled sister," she explains. "There was nowhere for us to go. I wanted a playground for children to come and play together, without an idea of class or abilities."

    Gown by Valentino

  • Archive