Fashion Week Interviews Style

Kazakhstan’s Pizza-Eating, Skydiving Top Model: Alyona Subbotina

By all accounts—say, Givenchy’s—Alyona Subbotina is an incredibly cool-looking girl. Beautiful, yes, but more importantly, cool. But one of the first things she says to me after my photog friend Mike and I sit down with her in a SoHo pizza joint is, “The real me is something more aggressive.” She tells me how she used to have bleached-out eyebrows and says she’d love to have messier, shorter hair, but I won’t find out what she really means about being aggressive until she’s more than halfway through her piled-high veggie slice.


All images by Michael Yuri Chard

See, Alyona was a member of her country’s Olympic volleyball team and had her eyes on the 2008 Beijing games when she was spotted in Kazakhstan by a modeling scout. Fast-forward to now—with pause points starring Helmut Lang, ACNE, Fendi and Armani. She loves fashion, and she loves the industry, and you only have to talk to her for, well, about as long as it takes to eat half a slice, to know that she’s got her head on straight about it.

“We have a perfect job. We get good pay to work just one or two days and I’m not in some factory somewhere. I respect my clients and I am happy to be who they want—to be what the market wants. But I see it as … how do you call it? A circus.”

And ladies and gentlemen, Alyona is an expert practitioner of the best circus-coping stress reliever out there.

Don’t follow Alyona on Instagram if you’re afraid of heights. But do follow Alyona on Instagram if you like the idea of location shoots in California followed by weekend-long skydiving binges in New Paltz, New York.

Alyona-interview with me

“Other girls go to clubs, this is what I do. But I’m safe. I never jump when I’m drunk. Safe skydiving!” Alyona says, cracking herself up while attacking the broccoli and olives on her plate. She’s prone to calling everything crazy (examples: “This nail polish is totally crazy!” and “The fashion makes us crazy!”) and then cracking up over it. “If I break my leg that’s so fucked up, modeling is over for me!”

Alyona-pizza shot


Still, when all this Fashion Week business is over, she’s headed to Tennessee, where the jumping possibilities are somehow even more epic, and she plans to make a dive that will net her bragging rights to something like Kazakhstan’s Most Accomplished Skydiver.

I’m quite sure it will make her fashion’s most accomplished skydiver too. 

Alyona-outside of pizza joint

Alyona-street scene


See all of our Fashion Week coverage, shop the trends and get inspired on our
Designer Collections Fashion Week hub

SHOP: current season Designer Collections

—Laura Cassidy

All images by Michael Yuri Chard