BAZAAR Exclusive: Olga Kurylenko, The 21st Century Heroine

Olga Kurylenko is the Hollywood actress who’s about as un-Hollywood as one can get.  

Photographed by Rachell Smith. Styled by Alexandra Fullerton.

Dress (worn as top), Giorgio Armani.

Olga Kurylenko strides into the middle of the room and holds out an outstretched arm to introduce herself —“Hello, I’m Olga”— to the ten-strong team setting up for the shoot ahead. She’s arrived alone; an unusual move for such a star to quietly pad into our West London location house—manor, actually—without any entourage. And so it seems, without anyone noticing. The picture of relaxed health—porcelain skin, sharp cheekbones, and piercing green eyes—she arrives wearing pastel-pink ballet shoes and a navy celestial-patterned Tara Jarmon dress, grey Loewe handbag in one hand, iPod in the other. It’s all very low-key.

At 37, Kurylenko is the most famous Ukrainian actress in Hollywood acting alongside every leading man you could image, from Tom Cruise to Daniel Craig, cementing herself in silver screen history as a Bond Girl. Born in Berdyansk, Ukraine, Kurylenko was raised by her mother, Marina, and grandmother, Raisa, in a small four-room flat. That’s a long way from the opulent space we find ourselves in today, complete with crimson brocade furniture, humongous sash windows draped with bronze fabric, and the pièce de résistance, a golden grand piano. It’s the perfect setting for this New Extravagance Issue cover shoot, yet as I discover, the woman in front of us is anything but. 

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Is it this pivotal new role as a mother that’s led her to the flat shoes and chic, relaxed dress she arrives in today? “Of course,” she laughs. “I live in flats these days. I run around so much during the day, I have to be comfortable.” At what point does the private Kurylenko end and the public one begin? “Ah, that is where clothes come in,” she winks. “Heels, for me, are like putting on my public character. I love power suits, dresses, heels, and a statement red lip when it comes to work events. I love wearing Giorgio Armani, Dior, Chanel … but when it comes to shopping for myself? I don’t have the time,” she sighs. “It’s not laziness. We’re all juggling so many things at once these days, it’s impossible. Who has time to wander around the shops? Online shopping has changed the world.”

Coat; and belt, both from Giorgio Armani. Shoes, stylist’s own.

And her world has changed indeed. Kurylenko grew up in a communist state: “There were no magazine covers with Hollywood actresses. I didn’t even know that this job existed,” she reminds me. “The first I knew of this world was when I went to Moscow, aged 16, and I was scouted in the subway by a model agent.” She intelligently challenges those who say she’s changed, that she’s forgotten her past. “I prefer to bring my family to the UK, and they prefer it, too. There’s more for them to do. In fact, we’ve just spent the most marvelous summer in Provence, France, together.”

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