When models reveal their truer selves…


Viva London / Harpers Bazaar Self-Portraits fashion exhibition
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
Teilhard de Chardin /  Anne-Marie Van Dijk

Self-Portraits Exhibition | Anne Marie Van Dijk
“Look out for the Harper’s Bazaar. It’s going to be Viva special.” Natalie Hand told me as the September issue was about to hit the shelves. Hours later I saw the cover. Natalia Vodianova in Dior, she was almost stepping out – a strange optical illusion separating her from the silver background.

The superwoman and one of the Viva London stars, she was interviewed and photographed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino for the Harper’s 13-page feature. The story and photos were a good enough treat that didn’t require any cherries on top to make the magazine even more special, though I had a feeling I was about to see a few more Viva London models as I flicked through the pages. I was right. Sara Blomqvist also appeared in one of the editorials, all wrapped up in creams and burgundy, a gorgeous girl wearing some of the most luxurious coats.

“Truth lost its significance when it multiplied, scattered through time and abundance. Where will these meet the I?” 
Agnes Nabuurs

What I saw next was so unexpected and beautiful that my heart felt like a pool filled with joy. There were photographs and photographs, one after another, pages of them, all chosen by the Viva models and artists showing them outside the fashion world, at their most intimate, soul-exposing moments, stripped from the masks, make-up and looks they have to carry for somebody else, playing other characters, making us forget that the images we see in magazines are just photos, a beautiful reverie made of our dreams and thoughts.

Being great models, they make it incredibly easy for a regular human being to start judging the book by its cover, reflecting one’s emotions, both positive and negative into the girls, letting our imagination play with the mind and taking away the natural instincts of love, reasoning and care.

“I see myself unadorned, as I am without any need to be anything other than what I am.”
Kirsty Hume

Self-portraits shake away those illusions and bring back the reality. Suddenly, the veil falls and we get to see Edie, Katie, Natalia, Anne-Marie, Karlina, Edita, Doutzen, Vanessa, Inguna, Irene, Saskia, Imogen and Codie as the warm, intelligent and unique women who may be aware of their beauty, but see the world and life far beyond their own reflection in a mirror.

“I am the one between who I used to be, who I want to be, who they want me to be, and who I really am.”
Charon Cooijmans

This is an eye-opening and very moving experience, truly one of a kind and definitely something not to be missed. So, unless it’s the British Harper’s Bazaar you are reading right now, put those magazines away, get on-line or visit The Shop at Bluebird, King's Road, London, from 4-18 September to see every image in person. Perhaps, you will learn something new about yourself or see the ever-buzzing, churning and at times exhausting perpetuum mobile known as fashion in a completely different light.

I was invited to the opening by Natalie and Harper’s Bazaar. Receiving the invite was probably one of the happiest and most proud moments of my life. After all, I am just a crazy Russian who loves fashion and her dog - not a celebrity, not a model, certainly not an industry insider. And yet, they thought of me. I saw it as a chance to inhale that air of art mixed with fashion, be in London, say to Natalie what a wonderful job she did, and, of course, an opportunity to meet Justine Picardie and tell her how much I adore her books that move me beyond tears and how much I enjoy the magazine she creates every  month. Dress, shoes, tickets, everything was ready and then something half-unexpected happened to me and ruined it all. “Take a risk and if you win you will be happy. If you lose you will be wise.” read my Harper’s horoscope. Looks like the stars really did have a point.

Photo source: all images are via Viva London and Harper’s Bazaar UK


  1. Viva London got beautiful models, Natalia is my fav as million times I've already told you:) Congrats for the invitation dear, so ver well deserved!! xo

  2. I love you passion for fashion!models are interesting ppl!

  3. Now I really have to but the September issue of Harper's Bazaar. The last time I checked at the newspaper stand, it hadn't arrived. Sorry to hear you couldn't participate to the event. I would have loved to hear all about it. :)

  4. Congratulations on being invited to such a wonderful event, Natalia - it was certainly a well-deserved invitation and must have felt like a dream come true :)

  5. ah the event sounds great!



  6. This is such an amazing even, happy for you!

  7. oh no natalia! so sorry you couldn't attend. things happen at the most in opportune times. what an honor to be invited. you deserve it and I'm so proud of you. you know fashion inside & out. you always amaze me! the other day, i was thinking about how important it is to strip things down to their core. so to see these glamorous models at their most natural is definitely a treat. i like to see people for who they truly are. we have enough facades :)

  8. Natalia,dear Little Russ..............!!!:)*

    HOW emotional must be to get this invitation....Oh,my!!!
    SOooooooooooooooo happy for you,beautiful fashionista woman:)*

    I have not read this issue of Harpers Bazaar,not yet,but I want to see them SO,SO much....after all your excited definition!

    Oh,girl...!:)* I apologize for my familiarity,but it's because I am really glad for you!
    I look forward to your new posts about it!

    Wishiong to you mostly beautiful september weekend,