The debut of many models into the fashion world often sounds like a fairy tale – just think of Natalia Vodianova, who was selling fruit in a Gorky street market before becoming one of the most famous top models – but very few of them have studied design and have Steven Meisel as a mentor: this happened to Viktoriya Sasonkina.
She was born in Odessa, Ukraine, from a family where design is the norm: both of her parents work in this field and she has studied architecture for many years. Drawing is still a big passion, but now her life is facing wider and more ambitious horizons. Noticed by a talent scout in 2005, she completed her studies first, and then, at 19, moved to New York. Meeting Steven Meisel was a turning point in her career: “He is like the godfather for my modeling. I started with him, with a Calvin Klein Jeans campaign (F/W 2008), and after we did two Vogue Italia covers (September 2008 and January 2009) and a lot of campaigns.”
Icy blonde beauty with a porcelain doll face, Viktoriya embodies the elegance of Old Hollywood, and this is the reason why she was chosen for Stardust, the Vogue Italia editorial which made her famous: inspired by a documentary on Bette Davis, it sees the model paying homage to movie stars of the past, such as Carole Lombard, Katharine Hepburn and Davis herself. She still remembers that experience vividly: “I was preparing for my birthday in Ukraine, in Odessa. I was with my family and my agency from New York calls me and like: ‘Oh, actually we have really a nice gift for you to your birthday. You’re going to L.A.’ and I’m like: ‘Nice.’ ‘And you’re going on Vogue Italia.’ ‘Great.’ ‘And you’re going on Vogue Italia cover.’ And like: ‘Yeeeeh. The best present for my birthday’.” The influence of cinema is often present in Meisel’s works (“Actually shooting with him is always like theatrical things”) and in her job, since “modeling is like acting already.”
Even if she loves her hometown, she has found a new home in New York: the apartment she lives in is near the Hudson river, which reminds her of the Black Sea. She loves spending her free time drawing and cooking typical Russian food – meatballs, mashes potatoes with garlic, borsc (beetroot soup) – for her friends. She says she has a sweet tooth but she’s not interested in “all these crazy diets and healthy [obsession].” She exercises regularly, tries to opt for healthy food but eats anything (“It depends on the mood or on the time of the day”). She has the same relaxed attitude when it comes to her beauty routine: “I just use cream every day and that’s it.” In her vanity bag there are always Dior cosmetics (spray foundation and mascara, in particular), moisturizing cream by Sisley and by Mirra Lux, a Russian organic brand.
“My personal style depends on my mood,” she explains. “Sometimes I want to be more rock ‘n’ roll, sometimes more lady.” In her closet dresses (“tons of dresses”) and high heels are never missing. Her favorite dress is made of black silk and has colorful stripes on the back, a creation by Anna Sui, one of her favorite designers, along with Alexander Wang and Yves Saint Laurent. She loves YSL heels, too: “It’s comfortable to walk even if it’s high high-heeled. It’s really comfortable, I can stand in heels all day.” Another accessory she loves is her beige Chanel bag; in addition to that, she has a passion for Bulgari (“the classic collections”) and Cartier jewelry. She has no style icons but admires Kate Moss (“I think she’s cool”), Madonna (“I think she looks so great for her age”) and Jennifer Aniston, her favorite actress.
One of the most appreciated models, also thanks to the Prada, Mulberry, Alberta Ferretti and John Galliano campaigns she has starred in, she wisely manages career and money: “One year ago I spent a lot of money for clothes, for everything, but now I think it’s time to stop to buy all this.” Her goal? Collecting money to buy “something big”, like apartments. Far from being obsessed with her public image, when asked if she googles herself, she gives a tactful reply: “I don’t like [it], but my mom did all the time this.”