Michael Yuri Chard

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New York Fashion Week: Otherworldly Model Tiana Tolstoi Loves New York

Born in Egypt to a family who traces its heritage to Korea, Serbia and Russia, and then raised and schooled in Paris, on-the-rise model Tiana Tolstoi is the very definition of cultured and worldly—which is why I was taken by surprise when her eyes got wide and wild as she exclaimed, “But I love New York!”

Tiana-smiley face pop
All images by Michael Yuri Chard

I’m not sure she’ll stay settled down for too long (though at the end of this post you’ll hear her talk about one very good reason to do so for the time being); she all but belongs to the world. Witness this Vogue Italia spread and this cover for Vogue China.

Still, as we walked around SoHo taking pictures, she listed her three reasons for loving the heck out of this town.


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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.