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  • Writer's picture5' ELEVEN''


Updated: Dec 1, 2020

A little insight into the life of Milena Ioanna, the doll-faced Russian beauty brands are fighting for. She has already worked with Patrick Demarchelier and Olivier Rousteing, as well as walking for Chanel, Dior and Louis Vuitton to name a few. She shared with us her fashion experiences, travel lifestyle and her off-duty habits.

Words and Art Direction by Charlotte Coquelin

Photographed by Mathieu Puga. Styled by Coline Peyrot

Above credits: Milena wears Silk dress by Giamba by Giambattista Valli

Gold earrings by Alena Akhmadullina

You can find this editorial in the Spring Summer 2020 Issue 4. Get your copy here.

You probably have replied to this question a million times but we all love a fairy tale: how did you get discovered as a model?

It all started with me trying to get into acting. I needed to put together a nice portfolio for castings so I did some test shootings and people kept saying that I look like Sasha Luss’s (one of Russia’s top model) little twin. I didn’t know who she was back then… After a quick search online I found her profile on social media and decided to text her and send her some of my pictures. Surprisingly, she actually replied to me! She sent my photos to her mother agency, and I signed a contract with them. To be honest, I really didn’t expect things to turn out that way but I am so glad that they did!

Where are you based now?

I’m still based in my hometown, Moscow. It’s definitely one of my favourite cities, a cool mix of Eastern and Western cultures with a clash of different architectures and a beautiful history. I love every minute of living there and I’m always glad when I get to go back.

What was your favourite fashion shoot?

I think one of my most memorable shoots was for Vogue Russia with Patrick Demarchelier in Paris. I was beyond happy when I got the confirmation email from my agent as I never would have imagined I‘d have the opportunity to work with such a living legend. Despite having already worked for a number of big clients, I was so nervous and excited before meeting. As it turned out there was no reason to be nervous, and everything went very well! He was unbelievably nice to me and even gave me an autograph!

Feather coat by Xuan Couture

Name your dream job and designer?

I’m honestly already very grateful for the place that I’ve reached in the industry. I guess what I want most is just to keep working hard and to continue to enjoy every moment of it.

I see you have an agency in Tokyo -Donna Models-, what was Japan like?

Tokyo was my first modelling trip. I loved everything about it: the culture, mentality, food, language, nature – working there was an especially enriching experience for me as I also had the chance to practise and develop my English while, of course, learning a great deal more about the fashion industry. I hope to be back soon!

Who is your role model in the industry?

One of my favourite models is Natalia Vodianova. She is not only a beautiful model but she also sets herself apart as a strong, tremendously talented woman with a huge heart. She has had to work incredibly hard to become what she is today and I greatly admire that. Natalia represents what a real fashion icon is to me, all while retaining her feminine chic and unique charm. A true living inspiration.

Silk dress by Alexandre Vauthier. Necklace by Versace

You have done the Chanel show a couple of times, what was it like working with Karl Lagerfeld?

Yes, I’ve worked with Karl Lagerfeld a couple of times and I must say that working with him was a blessing. Karl was so talented that he didn’t need to try a hundred looks on one model to find the one. Instead, he knew exactly what would fit a specific model and how to make both the outfit and the model look special. Meeting him was quite the unforgettable experience.

Can you tell us more about your new shoot for 5eleven with Mathieu Puga?

I met Mathieu Puga for the first time on this shoot and totally loved working with him. He‘s a tremendously professional photographer with a great energy, and is someone who knows exactly what he needs to make things look cool. The shooting location is also one of my favourite hotels in Paris! I can’t wait to see the story we made there for 5Eleven!

What do you like to do off duty?

Well, I mostly enjoy spending time with my friends and family, going to the movies, museums, and any and all types of exhibitions. I spend a lot of time painting and love making art. Naturally I also love to travel and explore, so even when I have time off I like to take vacations to new places I’ve never been before.

Silk and muslim dress by Tony Ward Couture. Patent leather boots by Alexandre Vauthier

How often do you travel for work and how do you stay healthy while constantly in motion?

I travel almost every week for work but I now have a pretty good routine for travelling from one continent to another. I try to always get some sleep on the plane no matter what as it really helps to fight jet lag. I also drink a lot of water and apply moisturiser generously to keep the body hydrated: cabin air is actually dry as the desert!

Milena appears courtesy of Viva Paris.

You can find this editorial in the Spring Summer 2020 Issue 4. Get your copy here.

Silk dress by Giamba by Giambattista Valli Gold earrings by Alena Akhmadullina

Dress by Copurs. Necklace by Versace

Sequin and silk dress by Alena Akhmadullina. Patent leather boots by Alexandre Vauthier

Hat by Cocoshnick. Embroidered cotton skirt by Victoria/Tomas. Shorts by Desigual


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