PORTER Spring 2017
Photographer CASS BIRD Stylist ALEX WHITE
The Russian model and mother of five, Natalia Vodianova, talks to Porter magazine about remarriage and her latest philanthropic endeavour, Elbi, an app enabling people to donate to their chosen charities at the click of a button
Peace Offering: Natalia Vodianova wears top and skirt by PRADA, shoes by VETEMENTS X MANOLO BLAHNIK and ring by CHARLOTTE CHESNAIS, photographed by Bjorn Iooss for Porter.
ne thing I wanted to do with Elbi was make a kind of philanthropy available to everybody – not just Bill Gates and people with those big budgets,” Natalia Vodianova tells Anne McElvoy in the latest edition of Porter. While she may be one of the world's most sought after models, Vodianova is firmly establishing herself as a major player in the industry of “micro-philanthropy.” A dedicated mother to Lucas, 16, Neva, 10, Viktor, 9, Maksim, 3 and baby Roman, Vodianova is determined to raise her children with the values that lie close to her heart. Here, a few story highlights:
On finding unexpected love with Antoine Arnault [Chief Executive of Berluti, chairman of Loro Piana and heir to the world's largest luxury group]: “Antoine wasn’t looking for a model to be the mother of his children. And, trust me, I had good reason to be very much put off by ‘sons of’ on my side. So it was as much of a surprise to each of us that it worked out. Life sometimes just goes like that.”
On keeping her children healthy: “Here’s what I did with my son. At 10, he was frankly getting a little chubby. I said to him, ‘You cannot sit down with this thing happening to your stomach.’ So yes, I am a little military when it comes to them eating crap… Well I tell them they are gorgeous and beautiful and all those good things, but I tell them to watch what they eat, because those habits will stay for ever, so you need to make healthier choices from the start. Not some pink yoghurt after school that is full of sugar, just a nice plain one with some honey for a treat, or some fruit.”
On treating herself from time to time: “Let me confess… when I moved to France, for two years I had a pain au chocolat every morning. Finally, I woke up and thought, I truly cannot face another one. So now my daughter and I have half each on a Saturday morning – it’s our ritual. And we’re good with that.”
On why her first marriage ended: “Well I am a very hands-on mother and he [Justin Portman] isn’t hands-on. He loves his children very much, but he probably isn’t going to give them a bath or make sure everyone goes for a walk. I ended up doing things by myself and that was isolating because it is better to share those lovely things…”
On marrying again: “Well yes, eventually we [Vodianova and Arnault] might get married but it’s not like I’m keen to throw another party! I feel married now already, and when you’ve been there once, maybe it’s not as appealing the next time. Everything works so well as it is, so why change it?”
On changing Russia’s views about disability: “I know what it is like when people look away or someone says, ‘Can you take that child out of the café, she’s [Vodianova’s younger sister, Oksana, who suffers from cerebral palsy and severe autism] bothering other guests.’ It happens a lot in my home country and if we want to change things, we sometimes have to do something ourselves.”
On her Russian heritage: “I’m Russian. It means I look at everything I do from the perspective of my deathbed.”
Upside Down: Natalia Vodianova wears top by DIOR, briefs by JEAN YU, shoes by VETEMENTS X MANOLO BLAHNIK and ring by AMBUSH, photographed by Cass Bird for Porter.
To see the full interview with Natalia Vodianova buy the latest issue of PORTER, on sale February 2017, available in both print and digital editions, click HERE.