The model opens up about social media, mommy-and-me style, and more.
Words by Kerry Pieri
Irina Shayk is on the short list of oft-photographed women influencing real-life fashion right now. She’s captured nearly daily in New York City, doing regular things like school drop-offs in looks that are just the right amount extra—think: a plaid Vivienne Westwood skirt suit, a pink trouser suit, coordinating sweatpants and sweatshirts, and little dresses paired with edgy boots and oversized jackets. In other words, she’s out here on these streets inspiring what women want to wear—which makes now the perfect time for a fashion collaboration. In that spirit, Shayk, who is repped by The Lions, partnered with Tamara Mellon on three summer shoe styles, including a lug-sole boot that will pair perfectly with those little dresses, as well as two heeled sandals and a flat sandal with decidedly ’90s inspiration.
“Irina is strong, resilient, funny, and unapologetic about who she is, and so is the Tamara Mellon woman,” Mellon tell BAZAAR.com of her decision to partner with the model and mother of one. “These are all qualities that inspire me in my personal life, and in my designs as well. Despite any obstacles, Irina truly paved her own lane in the fashion industry, and that makes her inspiring and relatable.”
It was a mutual admiration society for the pair. “I think to collaborate with such a strong woman like Tamara, it really inspired me. She’s really cool and sweet, and she really knows what she’s doing,” Shayk explains to BAZAAR. Below, Shayk reveals her inspiration, her relationship with social media, her thoughts on mommy-and-me style, and why she’s delving into her fashion archives.
What was your inspiration for the collection? Were there any women you were thinking of while designing?
I think any woman inspires me. Any strong, powerful woman inspires me. I usually get inspiration from my family—my mom and my grandma. Now, working a lot with women at my work, I literally get inspired from any woman. When Tamara Mellon approached me to collaborate with her for this collection, I did a little bit of background on her. She really inspired me. I couldn’t say no to the collaboration, because she’s definitely a strong woman that empowers everyone around her.
That’s awesome. You are not someone who does a ton of collaborations, so what drew you to this one?
Well, the answer would be probably Tamara Mellon, because when I did this research about her company, I found out first of all, she was the cofounder of Jimmy Choo. Then she decided to start her own brand, Tamara Mellon. She created a new culture and a new voice to support women. She mostly has a female team—90 percent of her employees in her company are female, which I thought, Wow, that’s so cool. She really loves and supports women. Another interesting point about her company was that all her employees have equity in the business.
She makes everyone feel like they have ownership of the brand. That’s what inspires people. She did an interview and she said something which is really cool. She said, “Everybody has a voice, so everyone is allowed to speak up, and everyone has a place at the table.” I think to collaborate with such a strong woman like Tamara, it really inspired me. She’s really cool and sweet, and she really knows what she’s doing. Again, she lets everyone speak up, and she listens to your ideas. … I think that was a perfect match for us to start something together.
I love that. Onto the shoes. Do you have a favorite pair from the collection?
Yes, I have a favorite pair—the beige boots. The leather is so nice and light. They have a lug sole, and they’re very comfy. Last summer, I found myself wearing boots every day. Especially when going to the park with my daughter, I feel like I can walk around all day in them. Boots are so practical, but I feel like people associate boots with fall and wintertime. That’s why I designed a summer boot with a lighter color. I just feel that these boots can make you look edgy and cool. Inside, they have a little cloud cushion, so they’re very comfy to run around in. You can push them down for a slouch or wear them higher. I think the summer boot is the new sandal.
You’re one of the few people who was still getting photographed, especially late last year, because you were getting dressed every day. Why was it important to you to stay in the flow of life and really still show up in that way?
The thing is, first of all, there were no events, there was no red carpet to go to. We had this time where there’s nowhere to go. During lockdown at home with my daughter and my mom, we wanted something fun to look forward to. To be honest, I always say to women, to all my girlfriends, all my friends, you always have to dress for yourself. Some women dress for a man, and there’s nothing wrong with it, but when I wake up in the morning, I always dress for myself. I like to feel comfortable. I like to feel in my own skin. I think it’s just fun to get dressed in the morning and it sets your day, it sets your mood. I decided to get a little dressed up and make things a little brighter.
How would you generally describe your personal style?
Maybe easy, fun. Sometimes, less is more. Sometimes just fun, fun, fun. I was so not into print, but then I shot a campaign for Jeremy Scott for Moschino—all those colors and prints—and it was like, “Wow, prints are cool.”
I think that comfort is the most important thing for me, because I don’t like to squeeze into something and feel like I can’t move. I cannot go to the kids’ park, I cannot feel myself. I think the comfort is the key. If I wear some short dress, I would put little black biker shorts underneath, so I can sit down at the park and move. I would say fun is fun, less is more, comfy and easy. How crazy is that?
It must be a little bit surreal to be doing a school drop-off, and then you see that outfit show up in magazines or on the Internet. How does it feel to be out and about, and then see your outfits everywhere in the media?
The thing is I dress for myself and I have my dear friend Marc Eram who helps me. He’s so adorable. Sometimes, he would be like, “I got some vintage shoes on eBay. They’re so cool. You should wear them.” I’m not getting dressed for anyone else.
To be honest, my daughter loves to see me getting dressed. She would give me some suggestions. She would be like, “No, take it off.” She always wants to dress me as a princess. I literally redid my whole closet during quarantine. I found some pieces that I’ve never worn before and some pieces with a memory—pieces that Riccardo Tisci designed when he was at Givenchy, dresses from Versace from my first show. All those pieces are sitting there, why not use them? That’s why I’m getting dressed up.
My daughter’s having fun too. Today, I wore zebra pants and she goes, “Mom, you look like a zebra.” It’s fun just to see how she reacts to it. And sometimes I pick some dress and she goes, “No, no, no. Take it off.” I said, “Why?” She goes, “No, it’s too pretty. Take it off.”
Have you gotten into mommy-and-me matching style at all?
Oh, yeah. I got some dresses for summer that are definitely matching. It’s funny you ask this question, because yesterday I got a package from Hugo Boss, and they sent me this pink summer dress. I was like, “Wow, that’s cool.” Before I even tried it on, I opened another package, and it has exactly the same one but smaller.” I was like, “That’s so cute.” She’s four and she’s choosing outfits herself now. She wants to put crazy big skirts and big dresses and shoes on. She’s just having fun. I’m definitely letting her do whatever she wants to do, because she’s four years old, and whatever she feels like wearing, she can.
How would you describe your relationship with social media? You’re definitely active, but you don’t share a lot of personal information. You have more emphasis on your work.
I think I’m having a very chill relationship with social media. I have a lot of friends who love sharing their personal lives on there, and it’s totally fine—it all depends on how you want to use your platform. I definitely love to share my work, because it’s something I’m proud of. I think social media is a powerful platform that can be used for a lot of good, like lending awareness to different causes and charities.
I think you have to be very smart with how you use your voice. For me, I just really want to send the right message, because I’m a mother and I’m raising a daughter. She’s living in a different time with technology. When I grew up, we didn’t have Facebook or Instagram. We didn’t know what people were doing all the time. I think I’m using the platform with a real awareness of the girls who follow me and look to me as inspiration. I have to be very aware of that.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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This article first appeared on harpersbazaar.com