At the age of 15, Vodianova enrolled in a modelling agency in her native Russia. By the age of 17, Vodianova had moved to Paris, signed with Viva Models and begun her storied career, which would see her become one of the world’s most in-demand models. She has starred in advertising campaigns for Guerlain, Givenchy, Calvin Klein, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent, L'Oréal, David Yurman, Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney, Versace, Diane von Fürstenberg, Chanel, Guerlain, and Etam among many others.
Vodianova has spoken about the culture shock she experienced between her childhood, selling fruits with her grandmother on the roadside, and the comparative luxury of Paris.
Her first US Vogue cover was photographed by Steven Meisel in September 2004. She appeared as one of the "Models of the Moment," along with 8 other models, however she appeared on a solo cover in 2007. Vodianova has appeared on the cover of British Vogue eight times.
Vodianova is a founder of the Naked Heart Foundation, a philanthropic organisation that strives to provide a safe and inspiring environment for every child living in urban Russia, as well as to give support families raising kids with special needs. She was inspired to found the charity after the Beslan tragedy. Vodianova's idea was to distract children who survived the tragedy from their psychological trauma with play. The organisation built its first play park in 2006 in Nizhny Novgorod. It has since built over 90 more, including one in Beslan.
She is currently in a relationship with Antoine Arnault, son of LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault and the CEO of luxury brand Berluti. The couple lives together in Paris with her three children from a previous marriage.