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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Kurylenko seems fully aware of the potential dangers of possessing too much fame: “I didn’t grow up with any of this,” she points out as she sweeps her hands around the palatial drawing room. “It’s nice to play the character of the Hollywood actress, but I look at other girls in my position that come from poor countries, and it can go both ways. Either because you didn’t have it, you stay the same because you don’t know it, or you go completely crazy, and you jump in. What happened to me is the first one. I’m attracted to it, I appreciate it, of course I do. I’m a girl, but it’s not in my nature; it’s not vital. It’s great to have comfort and beauty around you if you can afford it, but my extravagances are my friends and family and time.” I push her on this: Does she have a favourite item in her wardrobe? “I don’t think of things in those terms,” she explains. “I’m not so materialistic. I’m more into ‘doing’ than ‘owning’.”

Left: Sequinned bolero, Giorgio Armani. Right: Dress; and belt, both from Giorgio Armani.

So, for the Hollywood actress who doesn’t crave fashion items or beauty treatments, what is the most extravagant thing she’s done recently? “I actually went to the cinema the other week to see Dunkirk. It felt so real, like I was there. You felt the war. It was very powerful.”

Our time is up and she heads off, cold coffee in hand into hair and make-up, where she greets everyone warmly and starts testing lipsticks on her hand. It hits me that she’s strikingly similar to the character Vera that she played in Magic City. “She lives in luxury but what she’s about is something else,” is how she describes Vera; aptly and uncannily, she’s also Olga.

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