The subject of our recent interview about creatives during COVID, Russian-born model Ksenia Islamova has previously told us about staying busy during the lockdown. She has since managed to land a supporting role in a ‘Lockdown Hauntings‘ film by English film director Howard J Ford, a lead role in a short film with a working title ‘Illusion’ and travel across Europe with her modelling work defying the EU lockdowns – all above board.
Who is the Russian-born blonde beauty? We decided to zero in on her impressive modelling career and achievements in our Q&A interview with Ksenia Islamova.
KSENIA: At the age of twenty-one, when I was about to graduate from my Uni, I was invited to an event in Ekaterinburg where modelling scouts were organising a viewing of ‘new faces’ for the local agency. I was just a guest there but somehow they decided that I can build a modelling career and gave me an opportunity to work with them as a ‘new face’. After I signed the contract with that agency, everything kicked off and continues until now.
KSENIA: Working as a model for more than 8 years, I have done a lot of great campaigns, the latest that I can remember is Wycon Cosmetics, Kosas makeup, New Yorker, True Religion, Soys, Loavies, Rosa Clara, and others.
During this time I have appeared many times in Elle, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, L’Officiel, and some others, less famous ones as well.
IKON: What brand do you like working with and why?
KSENIA: I enjoy working on TV commercials that contain not only stills but also videos. I like it when work is more creative, emotional, and active. When you can see feelings through the lens. My favorite is the Godiva commercial that I was taking part in while in Japan.
KSENIA: I wouldn’t say I’m more proud of any particular campaign, but the biggest impact and exposure was from the New Yorker campaign in 2016, when every single person who knows me was taking pictures of the shop fronts and billboards and sending them to me from all over the world. The biggest size-wise one was the jewelry campaign in Turkey that was printed on a three-storey building and has generated a lot of attention as well.
IKON: Do you have your favourite designer?
KSENIA: I always liked designers that could create some kind of unusual style. It used to be McQueen when I just started my career but after a while, fashion has changed and many designers started to advertise their brands as ‘freaky’, ‘free’, or ‘crazy’. And I lost interest in many of them. I can’t say I have one that I would call ‘favourite’.
IKON: What countries did you work in and which one is your favourite?
KSENIA: I’ve managed to work in almost all the famous modeling destinations. I started with Asia like many beginners: China, Japan, Turkey, Korea, Indonesia. Then, I slowly moved to Europe: Italy, France, Spain, Germany, UK, Sweden. After a bit when I built my portfolio good enough, I went to the United States. I tried my luck in NY first, then Miami, then LA.
Between the trips, when I was getting bored of working in the same country for a long time, I would ask my agency to send me to Australia, Brazil, Chile.
Every country was different and fascinating and I can’t say which one is my favorite one. Maybe Brazil … but I’m not sure yet! There are so many to visit still!
KSENIA: I can’t complain. Even though I was stuck in Russia for a couple of months – from March to May, I was still able to work and do my own projects there. At the end of May, I ‘sneaked’ to London with the first available flight and from there to Europe, where I have been busy enough and could still work and travel a lot.
IKON: What is your personal fashion style? What will we see you wearing day-to-day?
KSENIA: Being a model, you have to wear clothes that show your body shape. So, usually, it’s skinny jeans, boots, and top with an oversized jacket or coat on top.
But sometimes I love to have sporty and a bit grungy style. It makes me feel comfortable and cozy.
IKON: You travel extensively, what are your travel tips that make your life easier?
KSENIA: Sleep well when you have time for it, do not take a lot of clothes with you (you won’t wear half of them anyway), try to entertain yourself by doing something that makes you feel relaxed when you free (read books, watch movies, paint, meet friends), take care of your health and stay in comfortable places. Comfort is very important when you travel a lot.
IKON: How do you keep in such good shape? Any specific exercise routine?
KSENIA: I can say I’ve won the genetic lottery in terms of my body shape and food preferences. I don’t like sweets, I don’t like fast food, I always opt-in for easy, simple dishes just because I really like that kind of food. I do work out sometimes just to keep my body toned and strong. I don’t have any problems with keeping my body in shape.
KSENIA: Before I became a model, I used to be a fashion designer. My partner and I loved to create handmade clothes that we were successfully selling in Russia. But since I started to travel a lot, I couldn’t do both any longer. Nonetheless, I always had a passion for doing something creative. Editing videos, pictures or paint something.
IKON: What advice would you give to aspiring models looking up at you and wanting to become a successful model like yourself?
KSENIA: I would say, always keep your mind busy, always have something on the side, don’t place all your bets on modeling, and never expect to be successful even when everything looks like you are going to be. This business is tough and you can get bitterly disappointed if you rely on it too much.
You can keep an eye on Ksenia’s adventures in London and beyond on her Instagram.