Russian top-models: Olga Pantushenkova

22/03/2012

Olga Pantushenkova, russian top-model, biography, photos, via fashioned by love
You may not remember her name, but if you are in your late 20s or early 30s and beyond you would definitely recognise the mysterious stunning girl from a Cacharel ad whom Karl Lagerfeld once called “an explosion of beauty”. And now you can learn her name, too.

Olga Pantushenkova was born in Leningrad (now St Petersburg) in 1975. Their home was always full of magazines like Russian “Moda”, “Krestianka” and “Burda” and together mother and daughter used to spent hours and hours flicking the glossy pages and choosing new designs that Olga’s mum would later make.

One day little Olya decided that it wasn’t enough just to look at beautiful clothes. The girl went to her mother and declared that she would very much love to become a fashion model. Not a teacher, doctor or ballerina, it was the modelling or nothing.

Olga Pantushenkova, russian top-model, biography, photos
Although it came as a surprise, her mum was happy about her daughter’s decision and took the girl to several competitions including the “USSR Supermodel” in 1991. And it was then when 14-year old Olya won a 3rd prize and got noticed by “Red Stars”, the most influential Moscow modelling agency who sent her off to German Elite. Something didn’t seem to work out because 3 months later Olga was back in Moscow. Next stop was “People International”. In 1993 she signed the contract and was sent to Paris.

Despite her hopes and dreams, the reality was different. The agency informed the beautiful teen that her future as a model was non-existent because she wasn’t right for the industry. It was time to return to Russia.

Olga Pantushenkova, russian top-model, biography, photos
Many girls would probably buy a ticket and head back home, but Olga had a dream and wasn’t prepared to give it up just yet. She remembered meeting an agent from “Elite” after the “Supermodel” competition, so instead of packing her bags, went straight to the agency. They remembered the young Russian beauty and were happy to sign her up on one condition – she had to cut her hair.

Olga Pantushenkova, russian top-model, biography, photos
They didn’t have to say it twice. Olga run to the hair salon and her long locks became a short chic bob. Suddenly, everyone noticed that she wasn’t a skinny teenager with sparkling blue eyes, but a delicate, fragile, striking one-of-a-kind beauty. Unlike her native Russia, Paris fell in love with Pantushenkova at first sight.

Olga Pantushenkova, russian top-model, biography, photos
She was offered a contract with Cacharel and became a face of Eden. The campaign photographed by Javier Vallhonrat took five days to make and became one of Olga’s most found memories (although she did admit later that she never liked the perfume). Her client list was growing. Olga was offered contracts with Louis Vuitton, Giorgio Armani, Christian Lacroix and Claude Montana. She worked 24/7 modelling for Balenciaga, Valentino, Chanel, Galliano and Yves Saint Laurent and posing for Vogue, Elle and L’Officiel. Within months Olga Pantushenkova became one of the top 15 fashion models in the world.

Olga Pantushenkova, russian top-model, biography, photos
In 1996 John Galliano asked Olga to add a personal touch to the Bride look designed as a part of his first Haute Couture collection for Christian Dior. Pantushenkova dyed her hair into platinum blonde and ask for a super short pixie hair-cut. The blonde pixie look became iconic as soon as the show was over.

Olga Pantushenkova, russian top-model, biography, photos
Her career spanned over a decade. In 2002 she appeared on a cover of Italian Grazia, opened a Chloe boutique in Moscow in 2004 and worked as a stylist at Russian Marie Claire. Now she’s planning to write a book, polish her French, study something and just live without constantly checking her schedule.

Photo source: Olga Pantushenkova in Elle Russia, Vogue Russia 1998 (photography: Mario Testino), Claude Montana campaign, Vogue Russia September 1998, Eden by Cacharel campaign 1995, Vogue Paris

11 comments:

  1. Natalia, thank you for sharing her story! It's true that her name was not familiar, but when I saw the Cacharel's Eden ad her beautiful face came back to my mind...when I was a little girl my mom was always wearing Cacharel scents!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it was the very first ad I actually noticed and liked. :) It was published in Russian Cosmo for months and months. x

      Delete
  2. Yes! I remember the Carachel ads but I never knew who she was. She is stunning! xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She really is. I have a few more editorials where her eyes are just beyond magical, but I decided to limit the amount of photos to these ones. I bet, most girls would remember Cacharel campaign. :)
      xxx

      Delete
  3. She had a dream and fight for it, that's the spirit. Lovely story, Natalia. To tell you the truth, I have a bad memory when it comes to the name of the models, there are so many beautiful girls in the shows. But then come Little Rus and make us appreciate the story, not only the beautiful face. Have a fabulous day :*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! Just made my day! xxx

      Delete
  4. I love how she looks in that third photo. The important thing is never to give up and never to lose trust in yourself, the right person will notice you some day. Thank you for the story. It's always nice to see behind the beautiful faces (I totally agree with Florina). :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. PS: I know, I remember you've posted the campaign some time ago. It's one of the most beautiful floral prints I've seen lately. I think a pencil skirt would suit me better than a dress. But they are so beautiful! :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow! What a story! A change of her hair, changed her modeling career. She was an amazing model. Thanks for sharing her story. I really like that.
    http://www.averysweetblog.com/

    ReplyDelete
  7. I agree with Kim, that is quite a story and a nice one of determination. She looked stunning with the platinum blonde bob didn't she!

    www.styleonthecouch.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm not old enough to recognize the name initially, but I can certainly appreciate her beauty. And what an amazing story. To think, she was turned down for not having the "right look" for the industry. Well, she's got that magnetism and power and those are the characteristics that are most important.

    ReplyDelete