NEW YORK, United States — She has been the face of Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Versace, Calvin Klein, Guerlain and so many more. In a career spanning two decades, Natalia Vodianova has made an indelible mark on the global fashion industry as a hard-working supermodel. But Vodianova realised early on that she has a second calling, one that goes far beyond ad campaigns and runway shows.
From founding the Naked Heart Foundation and the Elbi, the global philanthropy platform and app for millennials, to her work as a member of the Board of Directors of the Special Olympics and her advocacy for full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Vodianova has earned a global reputation as a passionate philanthropist, digital evangelist, campaigner and vocal fundraiser. She is seen as a role model — not only by people within the fashion industry — but from all walks of life.
“Once you sense that feeling of being able to do something meaningful … not for your own survival anymore or that of your family, but for something much bigger; once I felt that … it just all made sense,” she told BoF, reflecting on the moment in 2004 when she decided to create the Naked Heart Foundation, a children’s charity that finances family support centres and builds play parks at orphanages, children’s hospitals and rehabilitation centres as well as urban underprivileged parts of Russian cities.
Later this year, The Business of Fashion will honour Natalia Vodianova with the 2017 Global VOICES Award in recognition of her outstanding achievement in fashion and the exemplary impact she has on the wider world. Each year, the award is bestowed upon an extraordinary member of the international fashion community at VOICES, BoF’s annual gathering for big thinkers.
The first recipient of the award was Mario Testino in 2016. Last year, VOICES welcomed speakers and attendees including John Galliano, Marco Bizzarri, Amber Valletta, Joan Smalls, Natalie Massenet, will.i.am, Ian Rogers, Angelica Cheung, Freida Pinto, Hari Nef, José Neves, Elizabeth Saltzman — and 150 other industry leaders from over 20 countries.
As part of this year’s programme, BoF will shine a light on Vodianova’s impressive career while celebrating her commitment to inclusivity and improvement of lives of underprivileged children and her many other charitable ventures.
"The two extremes of my life — my childhood and my success — only obtain purpose through my philanthropic work. This has always been driven by the fashion industry. Only thanks to this support am I able to fundraise and speak out for the causes that are important to me. The industry was always very understanding and supportive and I am very grateful for that," says Vodianova.
The second edition of VOICES will be held in partnership with QIC Global Real Estate from November 29 to December 2 at Soho Farmhouse in Oxfordshire. For more information on how you can get involved with VOICES, click here.