Thursday, November 13, 2014

Exclusive Interview - Alexandra Elisabeth Ljadov

Estonian newcomer Alexandra Elisabeth Ljadov has been firmly on IMA's radar since her stunning debut a year ago as an exclusive for Proenza Schouler at the Spring/Summer 2014 collections. The seventeen year old's piercing glacial runway stare, chiselled jawline, and cool air of detachment had key industry players taking note. Fast-forward to the recent Spring/Summer 2015 season and Ljadov has irrevocably galvanised industry attention via a prolific 63 show bookings. Ljadov's stunning versatility - a compelling blend of street chic and blue chip refinement ensured her inclusion on the runways with the most influence including Prada, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, and Valentino. A big part of Ljadov's appeal lies in her non-cookie cutter features which veer more towards a serious cerebral beauty. However scrape the surface and with a single flash of her pearly whites, Ljadov's face transforms to reveal an effervescent and glowing beauty with all of the optimism of a teen with the fashion world at her well-turned feet.

In the aftermath of the Spring/Summer 2015 shows, all signs point towards Ljadov continuing her dream run with a cover appearance for M le Magazine du Monde shot by Willy Vanderperre and editorial bookings for i-D Magazine, Vogue China, and Italian Marie Claire lensed by Daniel Jackson, Emma Summerton, and Thierry Le Goues already in the bag. Ljadov possesses the kind of standout unconventional beauty required to make an indelible impression on the fashion hierarchy however it is her versatile nature, the element of surprise and the depth to her personality which will ensure her longterm relevance. IMA caught up with the charismatic beauty in between modelling and school assignments to chat about her whirlwind Spring/Summer 2015 season, her take on what is means to be a 'Muse', the role models who have inspired her to follow her dreams, and her Fashion Week hijinks with partner in crime Harleth Kuusik.

Alexandra Elisabeth Ljadov
Photographer - Unknown
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Inoubliable Model Army (IMA): Hi Alexandra, thank you for chatting with IMA. Congratulations on a spell-binding Spring/Summer 2015 season. Did it come as a surprise at the end of the season, when you realised you had booked a whopping 63 shows? How did you manage to switch off from such a whirlwind Fashion Week schedule?
Alexandra Elisbaeth Ljadov (AEL): Hi, I'm extremely happy to chat with IMA, thank you so much!. Yes it was quite a shock when the season was over. I never expected to walk 63 shows! It all happened very fast and I was just going day by day. Before the shows started, I remember thinking that if I scored a top show at every city it would already be a dream come true. After my final show, I just went to have a burger with a friend and then went to sleep. I woke up in the middle of the night in a panic thinking that I was late but then I realised the shows were over. The next day I flew home from Paris and just had a week to relax and focus on school work - this helped a lot.

IMA: As a relative newcomer to modelling, would you mind sharing your backstory with IMA's readers?
AEL: I'm 17 and I come from Tallinn - the capital of Estonia. My mum is Estonian and my day is half Russian so I have a little bit of Slavic heritage. I have been modelling a little over a year now but I was discovered two years ago at a grill festival in the Summer capital of Estonia - Parnu, while eating meat with ketchup ;-)

IMA: Since your debut at the Spring/Summer 2014 collections where you were an exclusive for Proenza Schouler, your rise through industry ranks has been nothing short of spectacular. How would you describe the past 12 months and what has surprised you most about the industry in the short time you have been modelling?
AEL: The past 12 months have been nothing less than absolutely mind-blowing. I have been travelling around the world, worked with the best photographers, stylists, and designers in the industry and overall have been discovering myself as a person. I love what I do and I am very grateful to the people who have helped me during this time. The part that has surprised me the most is probably how many talented people work on a show or shoot to make a particular vision come alive. I never imagined that all these photos in magazines needed a whole fashion army to create them.

Boss - S/S 2015
Photographer - Kim Weston Armold
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Givenchy - S/S 2015
Photographer - Monica Feudi
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Prabal Gurung - S/S 2015
Photographer - Kim Weston Arnold
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Proenza Schouler - S/S 2015
Photographer - Monica Feudi
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IMA: Your Spring/Summer 2015 show list included the who's who of fashion elite. Was it all a blur or were there any special moments both on and off the runway which stood out for you?
AEL: Of course I had many memorable moments. For example the highlights on the runway were definitely walking Proenza Schouler, Prada, Saint Laurent, and Louis Vuitton. These shows gave me butterflies in the stomach before stepping onto the catwalk. But once I was on stage, I just felt like nothing could stop me. Off the runway, I remember after the Saint Laurent show I was standing in a group of models and Hedi Slimane turned towards me and asked if I had fun (it felt very special that he chose me to ask out of all the girls), and after we all had a group hug. But also the Proenza casting gave me so much energy because I hadn't seen the designers in a year and I was extremely excited to see them again after walking my first show for them last year.

IMA: Castings are a necessary and major part of a model's Fashion Week schedule. How do you prepare for castings and what do you feel are the key attributes for making a lasting and positive impression?
AEL: Before castings I just wash my face so I feel fresh. Since I don't use a lot of make-up it doesn't take me a long time to prepare. When I walk in the room I am always being true to myself and show my personality and I think this is what works. Casting directors are humans too and who likes people who are fake? I guess nobody.

IMA: This season you had the opportunity to experience all four fashion capitals. Which city out of the four did you feel a closer affinity to and why?
AEL: I definitely feel most connected to New York. When I was thirteen, my mum took me to NYC as a Christmas present and it has been my favourite city since then. I feel like I belong there. But speaking from another angle - Paris is my favourite city to do shows. I always have a blast there during Fashion Week.

IMA: You appear in the Zara Fall/Winter 2014 campaign and in recent editorials for M Le Magazine du Monde and Italian Marie Claire lensed by Willy Vanderperre and Thierry Le Goues. What do you enjoy most about the print component of modelling and when you were shooting with Willy Vanderperre, did you have an inkling that you would score the cover shot?
AEL: When I am shooting I enjoy the different characters I get to be. Sometimes I feel like channelling into a different person when I'm in front of a camera, but of course the hair, make-up, and clothes play a big role in that. I had absolutely no idea that I would end up on the cover when I was shooting with Willy. I had so much fun on the shoot and it was really a nice surprise.

Marie Claire Italy - September 2014
Photographer - Thierry le Goues
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M Le Magazine du Monde - October 2014
Photographer - Willy Vanderperre
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i-D Magazine - F/W 2014
Photographer - Daniel Jackson
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IMA: For an i-D shot with Daniel Jackson you are quoted as saying "Girls today have such great female role models. We can either follow in their footsteps or create our own.: Who are your role models in life and how do you hope to be a role model to other young girls?
AEL: My role model is definitely my father. He had nothing when he grew up in the Soviet Union and worked his way up from scratch to become an athlete. He taught me to chase my dreams and to never look back. I want to spread this inspiration and motivate young girls to stop thinking 'what if...' and start believing in themselves and to have a strong work ethic.

IMA: Was modelling always a dream of yours and are there any alternate career paths that you hope to have the opportunity to experience?
AEL: When I was a kid I never thought about modelling, but when I entered my teen years I discovered Fashion TV and I was intrigued by it. After my first show I was completely hooked and wanted more. I feel alive when I am modelling. Right now I want to focus on modelling full-time but at the same time finish my high school education. I think it's extremely important nowadays to be educated. In the future, I would still like to continue in the fashion industry. But I have to say that my secret dream is to cast, write, style, shoot, and edit my own short film.

IMA: Estonia models are everywhere at the moment with yourself, Harleth Kuusik, Katlia Aas, Elisabeth Erm, and Karmen Pedaru dominating fashion's runways. Did you run into and hangout with any of your fellow Estonians backstage and at castings?
AEL: Actually this season I got to hang out with all of them. Every time I see or meet Estonians I am very proud of my small country. As some might already know I started my journey with Harleth, so this Fashion Week we lived together throughout the whole month and we even documented our experiences. You can see it all for yourself on Youtube at

IMA: The fashion industry provides a window onto the world with amazing opportunities to travel and meet people from all over. How has modelling and your experiences changed your own perspective?
AEL: Being in the modelling business has been a very eye-opening experience. I used to only see the finished product and not put so much thought into the process. Now I see that it takes a huge amount of people to create a masterpiece and every small task is equally important and if something or someone takes a wrong step it could all fall apart.

Alexandra Elissabeth Ljadov & Harleth Kussik
Photographer - Uncredited
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i-D Magazine - F/W 2014
Photographer - Emma Summerton
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Vogue China - November 2014
Photographer - Emma Summerton
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IMA: Models are in  the unique position of getting a preview on all of the newest fashion trends months before the clothes hit the stores. What were your favourite fashion trends this season and what is your ultimate 'feel good' outfit?
AEL: My favourite trend at the moment has to be the super fun velvet pants from the Louis Vuitton collection and the lined leather jackets from Prada. My ultimate 'feel good' outfit is definitely loose pants like my boyfriend's jeans for going out or sweat pants when at home.

IMA: Your mother agency MJ Models has been instrumental in your development and in laying the foundations for your current status as one of the most promising newcomers of the Spring/Summer 2015 season! What do you value and appreciate most about your management team at MJ Models?
AEL: I value how involved they are. My agents always visit us during Fashion Week and take us out to dinner just to take the pressure off. They always have time to talk. Me, Harleth, and our two agents have a Facebook group chat so we always feel close even if we are thousands of miles apart.

IMA: 2014 marked the return of "Models as Muses" on the covers of magazines and in advertising campaigns. What is your definition of a "Model as Muse" and are there any key industry figures that you would love to take of the role of a Muse for?
AEL: A muse for me is a full of surprises kind of girl, a little bit mysterious. She has the combination of both - inner and outer beauty and then something extra that cannot be explained in words. It would be a privilege to be such an inspiration for someone in the industry. Who knows, maybe I have already met this person ;-)

IMA: What makes you "Inoubliable" (Unforgettable)?
AEL: I think my long legs and cheekbones are definitely my most memorable features on the runway and in photos, but more importantly I hope that my unique personality makes me unforgettable.

Alexandra Elisabeth Ljadov
Photographer - Remigiusz Kozdra & Katarzyna Baczulis
Image courtesy of MJ Model Management

Special thanks to Margit Jögger at MJ Model Management. For more information on MJ Models, please log onto

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