Meet the russian model Anna Kononenko
18 out, 2015
Hello, I´m Anna Kononenko from Moscow.
I’ve always been interested in arts. At school I joined a drama club and took part in some performances. I never actually got a leading part, those were small pieces. But acting was fun and ever since I started loving theatre and music.
Later I went to college and got a degree in mass communications and PR. I also studied French and got absolutely impressed with the French literature. Now one could hardly believe (even me) that back in those years I was able to quote Baudelaire and Saint-Exupery.
During the college years I used to be kind of a nerd. I used to wear blazers and knee-length skirts and spent most time at the library. I always got the highest scores at exams. But after college I had a complete transformation. I suddenly realized that I was more excited about social life and fashion than a journalism or PR career and the office thing.
Modeling: how did all begin
Actually I started pretty late for a model. I was 19, I was already studying at university. One of my Moscow friends decided to go to Slava Zaitcev Model Agency and I joined her just for fun. I didn’t have any serious ambitions, just wanted to give it a shot.
And then things just got up and running. I happened to meet a number of good photographers who had a creative vision and were excited about shooting common people rather than professional models. This way I got a bunch of beautiful pictures for free and they turned to be my first portfolio. I started posting my pics in social media.
Back in 2000 Russia was seeing a huge internet boom and my photos produced a good promotional effect. I got many connections at that time. For example, once I had a studio shooting where I was representing a mermaid (I used to have long blond hair at that time) swimming underwater. These pics really produced a stir and made me pretty popular.
My first shooting was actually a corporate video, made for some sort of a contest. I’m not sure if we won or not. It was for a perfume brand. I was sitting like a queen on the throne holding this perfume bottle and a knight was climbing up the long stairs to get it.
It’s hard to say what’s best about modeling. Maybe after so many years of having this “good girl” label I finally got to see the other side of my personality – the naughty girl that can easily strip off in front of the camera and create a whole new image.
I just feel inspiration for work, no matter if it’s a fashion show, shooting or acting. You are working with a team, you creating a different reality.
About black models, they aren’t pretty common in Russia for quite a reasonable point, because there’s little chance you can see a black woman in the street. It’s quite an extraordinary thing. But we had a lot of black students in college and I know a girl who is currently working as a model in Moscow and doing pretty well.
Posing to photographers: laughing and joking during the job
I love that synergy that appears during common work. And it’s really great when you like the photographer as a person, I mean you feel relaxed and you can have some laughing and joking during work.
The awkward thing is not about being naked in front of the camera (I feel OK about that), but it’s about having a personal disconnect, like when I make a funny remark just to create an easy-going atmosphere and the photographer is having a completely serious face saying “what the hell are u doing?”
I’ve got quite a few funny stories. I remember once I had a nice holiday in Mexico but on the last day I got completely sunburned on my hips and my back. And I had an important shooting for the lookbook the next day. There were a lot of these tight sexy dresses, you can imagine. Each of them had a zipper on the back. It felt so painful wearing them, and I had to smile all the time and keep saying that everything is great. It was a hard day but now it seems funny to remember that.
Or another one. Once I had a casting for the evening dresses lookbook. My booker told me we were not going to try on these pieces, just show the book and have a talk. Earlier that day I was doing my laundry when the electricity was cut off. As a result, I was left with not a single clean bottom. So I went like I was. And of course I was asked to make Polaroids there. You should have seen their faces when I said I was wearing no underwear. I got this job eventually by the way.
Of course, I’m trying to be in best shape before a lingerie shooting. The day before I have only liquid food, like soup or a smoothie. On the shooting day I try to have a very light meal.
The catwalks´ moments
I do love catwalk. That was actually the only type of model work I was doing at the beginning. My catwalk strategy is not thinking at all. For me it’s like a dance, you just feel relaxed, enjoy the process and move along with the music.
As for me, I never heard a model say something dumb. It’s a common stereotype to think that if you’re focused on how you look, you’re shallow inside. Most girls I know from the industry are very intelligent, many have a college degree and know many languages.
Male models x Female models
I think comparing male and female models is basically wrong. We have different professional areas, clients and products. I’m not able to represent a man’s deodorant as well as a man can’t put on Victoria’s secret bra and sell this product to women all over the world.
The thing is that advertising and marketing campaigns are designed for women, because they are shopping decision-makers. I do feel inspired by Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer and Laetitia Casta
Anna´s style: a fashionista?
I used to be a fashionista in the past. Like all Russian girls I was once crazy about shopping for designer clothes in Milan. I still have my collection of Herve Leger, Dolce&Gabbana dresses. But when you really work a lot, have castings every day, you’re getting used to wearing black pants and a simple top all the time.
That’s why most of the time I wear basic items from H&M and Forever21. For me, feeling comfortable is more important than trying to impress everyone around with my dress or stilettos.
Imagine u a famous model surrounded by a huge crowd!
This situation seems ridiculous to me, because when I’m not working I’m actually a shy person. I think if this ever happens to me, I’d say thanks to everyone and try to escape (my long legs will help me out).
On show business
Show business is really far from me. I don’t watch TV, I don’t read glossy magazines and so on. For me, modeling is a hobby that has become a profession. I think that everyone who has reached a certain level of popularity worked hard for it and deserves to have a private life.
Dating x Loving
Sometimes I think that dating could become my other hobby. I really enjoy having no serious/lifetime relations because I like to meet and date different people. I can’t get enough of all this exciting stuff like flirting, eye contact, first touch and first kiss. What can be better than that?
Well, at school I used to do ballet. But I’ve always been very lazy to do sport. I’m really lucky to have a good body that doesn’t need much effort to keep fit, thank to my parents. Though now I start trying new sports like surfing. But it’s mostly for fun.
Superpowers and Super heroes
Healing, I wish I could heal people.
I don’t believe in superheroes. I like common people.
Atracting someone´s attention
For me it’s an eyes contact, and I can go everywhere: museum, park, nightclub, another country. It depends if I want to be with someone or alone at that moment
Music and Food
I love different types of music. I think I have all kinds in my IPOD from opera to songs that you can hear in clubs. Barry White, Garou, Cafe del Mar, Scorpions, Gary Moore, Tiesto
Favorite body part
Chocolate and croissants
Craziest (nastiest?) thing you’ve ever done in a summer time season
You don’t need to wait for the summer for nasty things
Earliest childhood memory
I remember when I was 3 or maybe 4 my grandmother took me to the room where all my child dresses were drying. There were plenty of them, those cute small dresses of different colors. So granny asked me which one I would like to pick for that day. Spoiled, right? Haha
Nickname in school
At school it was a skeleton, in college they used to call me a mermaid, now I’m just Anna Banana.
An unforgettable moment
Indians believe if you enter in the sea on the south point of their country, you “clean” your karma. I have been at this pilgrimage place several years ago – after that moment my life keeps improving
Fav booking so far and why
I had this summer a shoot for a watch gallery in Miami , it was with friends, and we had much fun there
Yourself in 10 years
I hope to have family, travel a lot, and have a job in art business.
If u weren´t a model you´d be…
I believe you don’t need only one profession in your life. Just make a job which is letting you to enjoy your life right now
First of all, thank you for the interview. You know, they say: don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched
https://instagram.com/k.anya/ Anna Kononenko
Interview by Ed, the Brazilian editor