The life of a model can often be an enlightening one. There’re not many jobs where you’re paid to travel the world, whilst working with some of the world's most famous fashion brands. For the multi-talented Russian artist, Olesya Ivanishcheva, represented by NY Model Management, it’s a lifestyle she’s been living since the age of 14. Olesya gets photographed and styled in Central Park, NYC, by photography duo Anthony and Edwin; with Makeup by Hinako using Mac and Mac pro cosmetics, and hair by Yu Nakata represented by 87 artist.
Olesya wears Saint Laurent FW21.
Olesya wears Maxrieny by Sarah Wong
Olesya wears Bono van Peursem accompanied with jewelry by Michael Raven
Olesya wears Maxrieny by Sarah Wong
Working with brands such as Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, Olesya has made quite a name for herself not only for her impeccable silhouette in front of the camera, but also what she does away from it. A passion for art has led to Olesya seeking out emerging talent and helping to introduce them into the New York art scene and beyond. Whilst her work as a visual artist recently saw her appear on a single by Yves Thomas. Beautifully gracing our latest cover, we catch up with the artist to learn all about her interesting lifestyle.
Perhaps it’s unsurprising to see Olesya successfully delving into many creative realms. The ever-inquisitive soul has always been intrigued by new things, something that originated in her childhood – whether it be painting, football or gymnastics, she had to try it all. It was something that ultimately led to her career today, as she explains: “Whatever caught my eye, I would go into it. One day my mom came home from work. And she said, My colleague's son- he just got signed to an agency. And I replied, ‘Oh, I haven't tried that yet.’ I was in Moscow, the moment I googled the best agency in Russia. I then sent them some pictures- just like that. And then I got a call five minutes after and they asked, ‘Can you please come to the offices with your mom tomorrow?’”
Starting her career in modelling at the age of 14, Olesya was quickly sent abroad to grow her portfolio, with Japan being her first destination. It was integral to growing her confidence, as well as being a real eye opener, travelling alone at the age of 15. “It was pretty useful. Because, you could find yourself, you know, find your angles. You can see if you actually want to do that before you're actually going to Paris and with big casting directors.” Olesya explains, “It was a lovely experience. I loved it so much. Also, I made some money, and I came back home with a stack of cash and asked, ‘Mom, what do I do?’” However, it wasn’t long until she found herself in one of the fashion capitals of the world, Paris, where her love of fashion and art was only explored further.
It was when Olesya arrived in the US that she found somewhere to settle down and call home. New York is a special city and one that grabbed her heart from the first moment. It was a place she felt safe and respected, whilst still having all the creative avenues to develop as a person. Although, of course, New York is a relentless city with many challenges that she had to overcome. “It’s that feeling when you land in JFK, and then you take a cab home and you look out the window. It's the best feeling, it hits me so hard. And sometimes I cry, but it's a feeling of the freedom of the world. I feel like your rights here, as a human... are more appreciated, you know? I just feel more free and more protected here.” Olesya explains, “Whether you have money or if you don't have money in this city, people make it somehow. If you make it here, they say you can make it anywhere, because it is so hard. But also, you choose the way of dealing with these things.
You can either face it head on and go get it, or be quiet and easy and take the situation as it is. It's also hard to have friends here. It took me a few years to actually stabilize- to find out who is real and who's not.”
Olesya’s career in modelling has spanned a unique period in the fashion world. In recent years there’s been a move away from beauty standards and more towards body positivity and unique personality traits. It’s created an industry that can help reduce the pressure on young girls and boys by removing that level of expectation. It was something the model became aware of on her first visit to London. “When I came to London, my agency told me, ‘Olesya sorry, but you're just too pretty- you cannot work right now.’ She proclaimed, “Oh, that's awesome, because it's also important for the fashion industry to show that they’re regarding diversity- that they're in the loop of it. They need to know what's going on in the world, and the fashion industry has to show that they care, which I completely agree with, because who else is going to do that? There are no more anorexic models on the cover of magazines.”
This approach has not only made for a healthier image being pushed to the public, but also for those at the heart of the industry. As Olesya says “If you love the way you look, and the way you exist, people are going to love it too. It is based on social media, it's very connected right now.” Which is completely true. As with any job there’s still pressure involved but now there’s a healthy environment in which to grow, it’s no longer an industry of self-loathing and detriment but one where you can prosper just by embracing yourself. As Olesya explains: “When I just started, they were super strict about diets - you had to always be skinnier and skinnier to look better. They won't care if you're short or tall right now- they care about your personality or your opinions. But you also have to stand out or show something. Before you could be tall and skinny and not speak English, then they'll send you for a fashion show, you’d walk the show, and you didn't need understand where you're at. Now you actually have to speak and be smart at some point. There’s a myth about models that they're all stupid.”
It’s an age-old myth that still seems to hold some weight in 2021, no matter how many models have gone on to build superstar careers. Olesya is the perfect example of why this myth should be put to shame. A keen writer of poetry who cites Charles Bukowski as a huge inspiration, Olesya lives and breathes creativity within her own life. Whether it be the world of music or art, her modelling career opened her eyes to the possibilities across the world. “I started to actually look around and notice things which I'm also interested in- not just a face but actually a human being. I would look in the art piece, which is going to make me cry, and I would find out why.” She describes, “So that's how I got into the art world. I just have my specific vision because, as I mentioned earlier, I tried to do a little bit of everything when I was a kid. And this also comes up in art- I don't do it in specific ways. I love to discover new artists, show them to galleries, and then just see them grow. It's amazing. For example, I recently found an artist, his name is Kosch. He was first selling his art to work on the Russian bazaar. Right now, he's about to have a big solid exhibition in Canada at Arsenal Museum.”
Now much of Olesya’s time is spent searching out these emerging artists, using her contacts in the art world to help them establish careers. It was a side hustle that quickly built into a career alongside modelling and was born out of sheer passion. Despite working with so many artists, there’s a certain artist that truly catches her eye now, as she explains: “Well, I have a big love for this French artist. She's a woman, Marie Laurenci. When I saw her work, I was crying. I just burst into tears; it was so beautiful. And then my friend, he happened to own this painting, and he sold it to someone. I was so upset at first. I stopped talking to him. I said to him, “I’m not talking to you for a week or maybe two weeks!”
This kind of attachment to artwork isn’t rare for Olesya. Paintings have an innate ability to bring out emotions from within her, whether it be a moment from the past or beauty with a hidden meaning, it makes her feel special things. “I have been surrounded by art since I was a baby.” She describes, “My mom would like to purchase artwork. I remember there was a frog painting in the house and would ask, ‘Mom why is it there?’ She’d say “Oh because of the artist that created it”. And I would say, ‘But this frog is ugly. And I don't want to see that again’. I’d always ask her, Is the frog still there, is the frog still there? So now I love this frog. And I say, “Don't you dare to sell this frog ever again. We’re keeping the frog, it is in the family collection.’”
In July we saw firsthand how diverse her range of talents are. Olesya’s vocals were featured on a track by experimental musician, Yves Tumor. The track ‘Katrina’ closes the artists latest EP ‘The Asymptotical World’ and Olesya’s whimsical, spoken word lyrics was a fitting ending to the piece of work. Gaining not only vocal credits, but writing as well, it showed how the time she spent in lockdown practicing poetry had opened many doors. “It was quite weird. It was during Covid times, and I was getting into writing and poetry a lot. I was talking with my friend, Tucker, a co-writer of the song. We were texting a lot, and I scrolled through the messages and I found that insanely beautiful recording of our whole conversation. Then I sent it to my friend, Shanti, who happens to be a musician.” With a growing talent at writing, as well as being classically trained on the piano, who knows what comes next for Olesya.
Olesya is a unique individual in a bustling industry. Never standing still, she has the ability to bring joy and love into everything she does. What struck us throughout our interview was how passionate she was about fashion and art, a passion that goes beyond simply a career, it’s an integral part of her life. Her newfound career in the art world shows a level of selflessness that’s truly noble and with any luck she’ll be able to change the lives of many other emerging artists in the future. For anyone out there doubting Olesya’s potential impact on the creative world, then go listen to ‘Katrina’, it’ll blow your mind.
Olesya wears Gucci tights accompanied with a Natalia Fedner top
Olesya wears FW21 Ann Demeulemeester accompanied with a Natalia Fedner top