Natalia Mikhailovna Vodianova
(, born 28 February 1982) is a Russian model
who now permanently resides in the United Kingdom
Born in Gorky
(now Nizhny Novgorod
), Natalia Vodianova grew up in a poor district of the city with her mother and two half sisters, one of whom has cerebral palsy
. As a teenager, Vodianova helped her mother sell fruit on the street and later set up her own fruit stand with a friend to help her family out of poverty.
Vodianova's father walked out on the family when Natalia was a toddler, and she did not have any further contact with him until after she had become famous.
At the age of 15, Vodianova enrolled in a modelling
academy and was told she would need to learn English to succeed, and mastered the language in three months. By the age of 17, Vodianova had moved to Paris
, and signed with Viva Models
Vodianova has achieved considerable success as a runway, editorial and advertising campaign model. To date, Vodianova has walked in more than 175 runway shows for U.S. and European based designers' ready-to-wear
and haute couture
collections, has appeared in editorial spreads in fashion magazines worldwide and has completed advertising campaigns for Shiatzy Chen