Natalia Vodianova (Russian: Наталья
Водянова, born 28 February 1982) is a Russian model, actress and
philanthropist who now permanently resides in the United Kingdom.
Born in Gorky, USSR (now Nizhny Novgorod, Russia), 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
At age 15, Vodianova enrolled in a modelling academy, was told she would
need to learn English to succeed, and mastered the language in three
months. By age 17, Vodianova had moved to Paris, and signed with Viva
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 Calvin
Klein, Louis Vuitton, L'Oréal, David Yurman, Marc Jacobs, Pepe Jeans,
Diane von Fürstenberg, Chanel and others.
As of May 2009, Vodianova has appeared on the cover of British Vogue seven
times; the first was the September 2003 issue. She made her first
appearance on the cover of the U.S. Vogue in the September 2004 edition
alongside eight other models, then appeared as the solo cover subject of
the July 2007 edition of the magazine. During this time period, other
covers of the American Vogue have all featured non-model celebrities with
only two other exceptions: models Linda Evangelista and Liya Kebede.
As an actress, Vodianova appears in Roman Coppola's 2001 film CQ. In
September 2008, Vodianova stated that she was not interested in filmmaking
because of her three children; however, she appears in director Alexander
Kott's 2009 film Probka.
In Spring 2009, Vodianova entered into a three-year agreement to be a
brand ambassador for the French lingerie company Etam and will design a
lingerie collection each season during the term of the agreement. The
collections will be marketed under the brand Natalia pour Etam.
Vodianova was ranked 14th in the UK channel Five's 2005 television
programme World's Greatest Supermodel. Forbes magazine estimates Vodianova
earned $4.5 million (USD) between August 2006 and July 2007, $4.8 million
(USD) between May 2007 and April 2008 and $5.5 million (USD) between June
2008 and June 2009, making her the seventh highest earning model worldwide
during all three time periods.
In May 2009, Vodianova co-hosted the semi-finals of the Eurovision Song
Contest in Moscow.
On 12 December 2009, she was designated an ambassador of the Sochi 2014
Winter Games, becoming a ‘face’ and key advocate of Russia’s first Winter
In November 2001, Vodianova married Justin Trevor Berkeley Portman, a
British real estate heir and half-brother of the 10th Viscount Portman. In
September 2002, over nine months after registering the marriage in the UK,
they had a wedding ceremony in St. Petersburg, where Vodianova wore a
dress designed by Tom Ford. As the wife of The Honourable Justin Portman,
which is a courtesy title, she is entitled to be styled The Honourable Mrs
Justin Portman. The couple have three children:
- Lucas Alexander, a son born on 22 December 2001
- Neva, a daughter born on 24 March 2006. Neva is named after the Russian
- Viktor, a son born on 13 September 2007. Viktor is named after Natalia's
grandfather, who had helped raise her after her father's departure
Vodianova is a founder and the president of the Naked Heart Foundation, a
philanthropic organisation that strives to provide a safe and inspiring
environment in which to play for every child living in urban Russia. She
was inspired to found the charity after visiting Russia with her son Lucas
and finding there were no suitable places for children to play. The
organisation built its first play park in 2006 in Nizhny Novgorod. It has
since built nearly 30 more.