Born on the eastern shores of the Baikal Lake in the city of Ulan-Ude, Valentina Zelyaeva is the Russian supermodel that is the beloved face of American luxury label Ralph Lauren. Recently dubbed a “Money Girl” on Models.com was no small feat considering she has been with Ralph Lauren for over 11 years and has appeared in every fashion magazine from Elle to Vogue. On top of a successful modeling career, she is also a poster child for healthy living.
Playing Fashion met with Ms. Zelyaeva in her New York City apartment right on Union Square. “When I first moved to New York I would always pass by and think ‘this is where I want to live,’” she says. Here, Ms. Zelyeava talks diet, health, and reveals some ingredients to her homemade beauty mask, inspiring just about anyone to give a healthy lifestyle a shot.
BEING WITH THE RALPH LAUREN BRAND IS TRULY A DREAM
When I first arrived I was a new face and when I met Ralph Lauren he grabbed my hand and kindly said, “It’s so nice to meet you.” Then I opened his show and Bruce Weber shot my first campaign. They are a second family to me.
MAKE SURE TO DRINK COOLING CUCUMBER JUICES
It’s so good for your skin! The skin on the cucumber has silica, which is a beauty mineral. I even take silica supplements. But, if your cucumbers are not organic you should peel it.
I’M TRAINING AT THE INSTITUTE FOR INTEGRATIVE NUTRITION (IIN) TO BE A HEALTH COACH
They encourage me to cook at home more. I just learned how to make homemade Miso soup! I have this taijin from Morocco and I throw all of my vegetables in there for some broth. You can throw fish or meat in there, too. I love it.
CARBS ARE MY WEAKNESS!
I’ve never really been into dessert, but I do reward myself with some pasta or pizza. The pasta section at Eataly is my favorite. In New York City I also go to The Smile and ABC Kitchen. I like to discover new places with friends.
AS A MODEL I HAVE TO WEAR SO MUCH MAKEUP
I do a facial once a month and I get body treatments. I believe that when your body is relaxed, your face reflects that. I go to saunas to sweat and get rid of toxins. I also love to take a salt bath with essential oils… So relaxing.
MY SKIN IS DRY, SO I DON’T USE SOAPS ON MY FACE
I use a milk cleanser that’s paraben-free, doesn’t smell and is very gentle. I also do a clay mask. The jars are so big and they’re only 10 dollars at Whole Foods!
MY TOP-SECRET BEAUTY ROUTINE IS MY HOMEMADE FACE MASK
It’s really weird, but it works! I take milk, turmeric, probiotics, honey, and I turn it into a paste. Something natural, no toxins and it can also whiten the skin. If you have acne it’s anti-inflammatory, it’s amazing!
Photography by Kinya Ota; styling by Robert Mishchenko; hair by Alexandra Nesterchuk using Kerastase; make-up by Colleen Runné using NARS; model: Valentina Zelyaeva / Women; stylist's assistant: Bert Martirosyan.
Opening Image: dress and shoes by Marni; all jewelry - Valentina's own.