Natalia Vodianova Biography

(Russian Model, United Nations Goodwill Ambassador and Founder of the 'Naked Heart Foundation')

Birthday: February 28, 1982 (Pisces)

Born In: Nizhny Novgorod, Russia

Natalia Vodianova is a Russian model, philanthropist, public speaker, and businesswoman. She grew up amidst poverty and was raised by her mother after her father abandoned the family. By 15, Natalia had secured a modeling contract, and by 17, she had signed with Viva Models in Paris. She has modeled for brands such as Calvin Klein, Gucci, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Versace. She has been on the covers of magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Elle. Natalia is now a prominent philanthropist and runs her own charity for disabled kids, the Naked Heart Foundation. She co-founded the app Elbi and has won numerous awards for her philanthropic efforts. She now lives in Paris with her fiancé, Antoine Arnault, and her five kids.

Quick Facts

Nick Name: Supernova

Also Known As: Natalia Mikhailovna Vodianova, Supernova

Age: 42 Years, 42 Year Old Females


Spouse/Ex-: Antoine Arnault ​(m. 2020), Justin Portman​ (m. 2001 – 2011)

father: Mikhail Vodianov

mother: Larisa Vodianova

siblings: Kristina Kusakina, Oksana Kusakina

children: Lucas Alexander Portman, Maxim Arnault, Neva Portman, Roman Arnault, Viktor Portman

Born Country: Russia

Models Russian Women

Height: 5'9" (175 cm), 5'9" Females

Ancestry: Russian French

Childhood & Early Life

Natalia Mikhailovna Vodianova, also known by her nickname, “Supernova,” was born on February 28, 1982, in Gorky, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union (modern-day Nizhny Novgorod, Russia). She grew up amidst poverty in Avtozavod.

She was raised by her mother and had two half-sisters. One of her sisters, Oksana, suffers from autism and cerebral palsy.

In her teens, Natalia often helped her mother sell fruits. Natalia’s father had abandoned the family when she was a baby.

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Career as a Model

When Natalia Vodianova was 15, she signed with a modeling agency. By 17, she had shifted to Paris, France, where she signed a contract with Viva Models. She was also associated with DNA Model Management (New York) and Why Not Model Management (Milan).

With time, Vodianova became a successful model, on the runway, in commercial campaigns, and in print. She has participated in over 200 runway shows for top-notch fashion designers. She has modeled for brands such as Givenchy, Prada, Guerlain, Calvin Klein, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Versace, Yves Saint Laurent, L'Oréal, Marc Jacobs, Hugo Boss, and Stella McCartney.

She has also worked with ace fashion photographers such as Annie Leibovitz, Steven Meisel, Mario Testino, Patrick Demarchelier, Peter Lindbergh, Paolo Roversi, Bruce Weber, Alasdair McLellan, David Sims, Hedi Slimane, Ellen von Unwerth, Mariano Vivanco, Steven Klein, and Karl Lagerfeld.

A lot of international fashion magazines and publications have featured Natalia on their covers, some of them being Vanity Fair, Vogue (over 70 international covers), GQ, Elle, W, Marie Claire, Allure, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Harper's Bazaar, L'Officiel, Grazia, Hello!, and Esquire.

Natalia Vodianova’s first cover for American Vogue, shot by Steven Meisel, was for the September 2004 edition. It featured her as one of the "Models of the Moment,” with Gisele Bündchen and Daria Werbowy.

Her first solo cover for the magazine was for its July 2007 edition. In May 2009, Natalia was featured on the American Vogue cover, as one of the "Model Faces of the Moment.”

In 2009, Natalia signed a 3-year deal with French lingerie brand Etam, to be featured as a brand ambassador. She also signed up to design a lingerie line for the brand for each season, to be promoted as part of the Natalia pour Etam collection.

In 2014, Natalia was one of 50 models to be featured on the cover of the September 2014 issue of Italian Vogue, which was the magazine's 50th anniversary issue.

In 2015, Steven Meisel shot Natalia for the 2015 Pirelli Calendar. The same year, she was placed fifth on the Forbes list of the highest-earning models.

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The following year, Annie Leibovitz shot her for the 43rd Pirelli Calendar, which featured some of the world's most inspirational female achievers, such as Serena Williams, Yoko Ono, and Amy Schumer.

In 2017, modeled for H&M’s Conscious Exclusive line that created sustainable clothes with recycled and organic fabric. W Magazine dedicated their June/July 2017 edition to Natalia.

In 2005, Natalia secured the 14th spot on British TV channel Five's World's Greatest Supermodel. In 2010, she appeared on Tatler’s list of the top 10 best-dressed celebrities.

As an Actor

The 2010 movie Clash of the Titans featured Natalia Vodianova as Medusa. Natalia has also been part of films such as CQ (2001), Probka (2009), and a movie adaptation of Belle du Seigneur (2012). In 2013, she worked as a narrator for a broadcast of Swan Lake, aired from the Mariinsky Theatre.


Natalia Vodianova has set up a charity named the Naked Heart Foundation, aimed at helping families with specially-abled kids.

The Beslan tragedy had inspired her to start the charity. In 2006, the charity built a play park in Nizhny Novgorod, with a view to distract children affected by such tragedies.

The Naked Heart Foundation arranges an annual fundraiser, named the Love Ball, which was first held in Moscow in 2008. In 2016, the 10th anniversary of the charity was hosted by the Fondation Louis Vuitton. It raised €3,886,000.

Natalia is also associated with charity events such as the Bugaboo RED campaign, which aims at removing AIDS in Africa. She has also been an ambassador for Hear the World, a campaign to promote awareness about hearing loss.

She has served as a spokesperson for the Tiger Trade Campaign.

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In 2015, she began co-hosting an annual Fabulous Fund Fair, along with Karlie Kloss. The fair hosts luxury brands to raise money for the Naked Heart Foundation.

The same year, Natalia joined hands with Timon Afinsky to co-found the digital app Elbi, which lets people donate money with a "Love Button." In 2016, the Clinton Global Initiative Commitment promoted the app.

Natalia and Polina Kitsenko organize an annual event in Russia, named the Running Hearts charity race. The funds raised in the event are donated to the Naked Heart Foundation’s early intervention services that help families raise kids under 6 who have conditions such as autism and cerebral palsy.

Other Achievements

In May 2009, Natalia Vodianova served as a co-host of the Eurovision Song Contest semi-finals in Moscow. On December 12, 2009, she was declared an ambassador for the 2014 Winter Olympics to be held in Sochi. She was also part of the 2010 Winter Olympics closing ceremony held in Vancouver.

Natalia is also part of the international board of directors of the Special Olympics. She supported the European Games in 2014 and the 2015 World Games.

Mattel’s first Russian doll was modeled on Natalia. A fraction of the profits from the sales were donated to the Naked Heart Foundation.

In the World Football Championship held in Russia in 2018, Natalia was the ambassador of Nizhny Novgorod, her hometown.

Natalia has delivered speeches for the Clinton Global Initiative, the First Ladies’ Luncheon, the Millennial Summit, Tech Crunch, the Founders Forum, and One Young World.

Awards and Recognitions

Natalia Vodianova was chosen as one of “Agents of Change” of Fashion 4 Development and also earned the Fashion 4 Development award.

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In November 2010, Natalia won the Harper's Bazaar Inspiration of the Year Award for her charitable work.

In April 2013, she was awarded the Inspiration Award at the DVF Awards. The same year, Natalia also won the Harper's Bazaar's Philanthropist of the Year Award.

On November 10, 2014, Natalia won the 2014 Glamour Woman of the Year for her philanthropic efforts.

In 2017, Vogue India presented her the Women of The Year award.

Personal Life

Natalia met her former husband, British property heir Justin Portman, at a dinner in Paris in 2001. Justin is the son of Edward Portman, 9th Viscount Portman.

The couple got married in November 2001, when Natalia was already 8 months pregnant.

In September 2002, they arranged a formal wedding ceremony in St. Petersburg. The couple had three children: two sons, Lucas Alexander (born in 2001) and Victor (born in 2007), and a daughter, Neva (born in 2006).

The couple split in June 2011. On December 31, 2019, Natalia got engaged to Antoine Arnault, son of LVMH founder Bernard Arnault.

Antoine is the CEO of luxury menswear brand Berluti and the chairman at the Italian cashmere brand Loro Piana. They have two sons: Maxim (born in 2014) and Roman (born in 2016).

The two had met in 2008, at a Louis Vuitton shoot, and had become friends. When Arnault had split from his girlfriend, Natalia too had broken up with her husband. He thus approached her. However, Natalia waited for months before meeting him for a drink on the terrace of his Paris apartment.

She fell in love with him on their next date, at La Société in Saint-Germain. Natalia’s ex-husband lives in Uruguay, and she had to convince him to let the kids join an international school in Paris. She now leads a leisurely family life in Paris.


In December 2018, Natalia visited India to attend her friend Isha Ambani’s wedding in Udaipur.

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