THE ART OF MODELING
A Conversation with Model ELENA KURNOSOVA
By Eden Herbstman
It was hard not to notice Russian model Elena Kurnosova during this past NYFW as one of Betsey Johnson’s cotton candy afro runway girls. But Elena did more than walk the runway. With just under a minute to walk up and down the runway in a silver 80’s style strapless gown Elena put on a performance filled with dance moves, struts, blown kisses, winks and twirls. All eyes in the room were on her, and the runway became her stage.
Already in her career she”s had international exposure, and is a favorite amongst designers like Betsey Johnson and Joanna Mastroianni. Elena grew up as a trained dancer, a vital skill she brings to her modeling career. She goes beyond posing or walking, but performs and finds movement and grace in every job. Sitting across from her, sans cotton candy wig, she is more than a pretty face and statuesque blonde. She has the looks and professionalism, that is a given, but not the only attributes making her a top model. Modeling to her is about conveying an artistic movement. How her body moves in a photo, how she walks a runway, and how she lives her life is all aligned to movements. Whether she”s modeling bikini”s in Iceland or furs in Miami, Elena is more than a natural model, she is a natural performer.
Eden Herbstman: I know you were a professional dancer before you started modeling. How do you think that helps you with when on a photo shoot or walking a runway?
Elena Kurnosova: Because of my dance background I know how to move and pose, so it makes modeling easier. It’s easier for me to portray the feel and emotion of the clothing. I started dancing when I was very young. I took my first ballet class when I was three years old. After awhile I had to get back surgery, so I could no longer dance. That is what lead me to modeling when I stopped dancing.
EH: So music must be important to you, what are some of your favorites?
EK: It depends on my mood. I love classical music, pop, Latino, R & B, and Electronic. I lived in Miami so I really like EDM. [laughs] I dance for myself now, just for fun, now that I am not doing it professionally anymore. I work out at David Barton, which is basically like a club more than a gym. That is a great place to listen to music.
EH: How does living in NYC compare to Miami?
EK: The first agency that worked with me was in Miami so I eventually moved there, that was almost four years ago. I love the ocean, the beach, and just being in the sun. My heart will always be in Miami, but NYC has been the best so far. The movement and energy here doesn”t compare to anywhere else.
EH: I”m sure you need to have an adventurous side if you”re always on the go and stepping out of your comfort zone.
EK: Years ago I was searching for agencies by myself. I was flying to Los Angeles, Chicago, Las Vegas, and I didn’t know anything or anyone. I’m a very adventurous person, so I love traveling and exploring places. I’m lucky I have a job that allows me to do that. Sometimes I’m in places with no internet for a few days, but that’s fine, I like to enjoy the surroundings. I feel like some people wouldn’t be able to do that. I started traveling when I was 16 years old, and I was so excited to see all these places. I wasn’t scared. If I was in the street and didn’t know something I knew I could figure it out. Looking back I can’t believe I was able to do certain things. For example, I was in Mexico for four months because I thought it would be good to be in an exotic place and have photographs taken there. A policeman stole my purse there once. It was crazy! He just took it and ran away. But I still loved living there. It was the first place I was in that was like summer all year round, so I had fun…Wow crazy life!
EH: If you can overcome that then I”m sure you can handle the craziness of fashion week no problem!
EK: Oh it is so crazy. Castings, fittings, gym, events, sleep, and it’s the same thing the next day. When fashion week ends I feel like something is wrong though. I don’t like accepting the fact that I am less busy. When things are quiet I look around and feel a little weird.
EH: What is you”re favorite type of job to be casted for?
EK: I love being able to jump around, move, and laugh. I could do that for 24 hours a day. Any job that is active. If the work isn’t artistic then it can be hard. There are shoots with 400 or 500 pieces in a collection working from 8 am to 10 pm doing the same three poses: Left, Right Straight, Left Right, Straight. That’s not fun at all.
EH: Is there a specific piece of clothing from a designer that describes you?
EK: There is this Joanna Mastroianni orange dress that completely describes me and how I feel.
EH: You”ve worked with Betsey Johnson for a few seasons now, and you two have a great relationship both professional and personal. What is it like working with her?
EK: She was one of the first designers I worked with in New York. This past fashion week was my fourth show with her. She’s amazing! She gives you the freedom to show her dresses how you want to. During a fitting with her she just kept telling me how much she believed in my talent. It was really inspirational. She drew me a picture actually! I’m so attached to it. It says “Elena The Best”
Elena Kurnosova is a Russian model.
Written by Eden Herbstman
Design by Marie Havens
Photography by Livio Mancinelli
Elena Kurnosova, Photography by Livio Mancinelli