To be one of the most in-demand models around must be a dizzying existence, yet Irina Shayk manages to stay grounded. Because her no-nonsense single mom encouraged Shayk to chase her dreams and count her blessings, appreciating all the opportunities she’s been given and the many people who made them possible is merely part of the striking beauty’s daily practice.

Irina wears dress BALENCIAGA (Pre-Fall ’24)

V MAGAZINE: What’s a story about yourself you like to tell? Could be real or fictional.

IRINA SHAYK: One of my favorite stories is how I broke into the high fashion world. In the beginning, no one wanted to take a chance on me. I got a call in 2015 to attend a casting with Riccardo Tisci and Givenchy—he was casting for his famous Bambi collection. I’ll never forget the way Riccardo looked at me when I walked into the room. He was smoking a cigarette and barely said a word. I’d never been more terrified in my life. He asked me to walk and I honestly don’t even know how I managed to at that point. Ten years later, we still have a true and genuine friendship—and still laugh about that day!

V: In a couple of sentences, what would you say your origin story is?

IS: I think the title would be: “How did a girl who grew up on a potato farm in Russia make it out of there?” I was raised by a strong mother, a woman who never let my sister or I take no for an answer. From a young age she taught us: be who you are and chase your dreams, but never forget where you came from. I never have. She also taught us no matter what happens in life, always be a lady. Now that’s something I teach my daughter every day.

V: What are you working on these days?

IS: Working on myself is something I do every single day. Taking time out for yourself is something that is important to me, and took me a while to figure out. You always need to work on being a better version of yourself. I do a lot of reading and definitely have a better read on others the older I get.

V: What makes your work possible?

IS: My daughter. I want to show her that no matter what you want to achieve in life, you can, but it’ll take hard work to get there.

What helped me get where I am today and put me on the map were all the people who took a chance on me, and who believed in me when no one else did. But it also took a lot of hard work from my end, which people didn’t see. Anything is possible, but you need to believe in yourself first.

V: Do you remember how you felt when you first started modeling?

IS: I do! I remember being so grateful and happy to help my mom out the first time I made some real money. My mom who raised two teenage daughters on her own. I remember sending home the first $100 I ever made.

I didn’t become a model for a social media following—back then, it barely existed. I come from Russia, where no one ever told me that I was pretty or should be a model. I became a model because I saw it as an opportunity to help my family even more than just $100, and it has.

V: How does that compare to the way you approach your work today?

IS: Every morning, I’m so grateful for everything that I have. For every day. I always remember where I came from, and what I stand for, and always will.

V: Since we are celebrating the Montblanc Meisterstück’s 100-year anniversary, can you share with us any major milestones you’re celebrating this year?

IS: This year, we’re celebrating my daughter’s seventh birthday. I’m so proud to be her mom. She’s an amazing little girl. I’m also celebrating cutting out all the negative energy from my life, and remembering never to doubt myself… and always trust your gut. 😉

V: What do you hope to have accomplished by the time you’re 100?

IS: I’m not sure I will live until I’m 100, I complain way too much! I have no idea who could deal with that, but I’m a person who lives day by day. I enjoy what I accomplish now and what I will accomplish maybe in the next 100 minutes, but I’m not worried about years.

This story appears in the pages of V148: now available for purchase!

Photography Nathaniel Goldberg

Fashion George Cortina

Editor-In-Chief / Creative Direction Stephen Gan

Makeup Tom Pécheux (Safe Management)

Hair Joseph Pujalte (Bryant Artists)

Manicure Christina Conrad (Callisté)

Producer Michael Lacomblez (Louis2)

Production manager Ambre Silvestre (Louis2)

Digital technician Rebecca Liévre (Imagin Productions)

Lighting technician Mathilde Barniaud

Photo assistants Corinne Mutrelle, Aurélien Nobécourt

Stylist assistants Peter Aluuan, Malou Beaumont, Samuel Tosi

Makeup assistant Megumi Itano

Hair assistant Flavien Hymonnet

Production assistant Mathilde Barniaud (Louis2)

Location Espace Lumiere / La Maison 

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