Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sasha Knezevic popped the question to Anja Rubik after a vampire musical

the rocks, december 31st 2010/stephen lee

Anja Rubik and fiancé Sasha Knezevic were among out-of-towners who rang in 2011 in Sydney. Confirming an earlier report by frockwriter that the world number 3 ranked model was en route downunder to shoot for Vogue Australia, the duo arrived on the morning of the 31st and spent the day sightseeing with Stephen Lee, who heads up Rubik’s New York agency Next Model Management, including lunch at iconic Watson’s Bay seafood restaurant Doyles. And at midnight? Joining an estimated 1.5million who assembled to watch the city’s NYE fireworks from the harbour foreshore, Polish native Rubik and Serbian Knezevic, a former pro basketballer-turned-model (who also jointly edits Viennese fashion magazine 25 with Rubik), braved the hustle and bustle of The Rocks (where the above shot was taken). But as Rubik explains in this interview I recorded on New Year’s Day, the model duo loved it. Rubik, whose career highlights include multiple campaigns for Fendi and Chloé and 10 Vogue covers, dishes on her engagement deets, the Vogue Australia shoot and Karl Lagerfeld’s 2011 Pirelli calendar, with one fascinating revelation. She turned down the opportunity to shoot the world’s best-known calendar in 2009 for one reason - because Terry Richardson was shooting it.

gap fragrance campaign via the anja rubik and sasha knezevic facebook fan page

Frockwriter: When did you arrive?
Anja Rubik: We arrived yesterday morning. We did so much yesterday and today. We met up with Stephen. We walked around The Rocks. We enjoyed the whole day. Then we had a quick disco nap and we went out about town for NYE. It was pretty incredible. We were just walking around The Rocks. At midnight we were actually on the street. We always go to parties and we wanted to do something different. And the energy of the street was so incredible. We watched the fireworks - you can smell it almost. And you can really feel the energy of the other people. It was something completely different. I think in Sydney you have to do that. I was really amazed. It was so well organised.

FW: You and Sasha just became engaged didn’t you? Congratulations.

AR: Yes, yes, we just got engaged a few days ago, just before Christmas. Noone really knows about it yet.

FW: They know about it on [one of the world's largest fashion web forums] The Fashion Spot.

AR: They know about it on TFS? You’re kidding me?

FW: They know everything.
AR: OMG, that’s really scary.  

FW: How did he propose?
AR: We were spending Christmas in Vienna this year because Sasha grew up in Vienna and his family is there and my family was coming over. And just two days before he came over, we went to Dance of the Vampires, the one that Roman Polanski directed [NB: I originally thought she meant Polanski’s 1967 film, aka The Fearless Vampire Killers – on which the musical is based]. It’s an opera. I wanted to see it for such a long time and Sasha organised the tickets, so it was really nice for Christmas. And then we went out and we walked around, it was really foggy the whole night and then he finally proposed, which was funny... It was pretty incredible. In the middle of the street. In the middle of the night. And then we went and had dinner in this restaurant that was on the rooftop of a building. And it was really, really nice. Apparently he was carrying the ring around for a while. And that day we fought all the day long. We were preparing the whole house for Christmas and there were all these things to be done and I had to cook and I had to do this and that and the Christmas decorations… I couldn’t find the ones I liked. So it was totally dramatic the whole day. I thought, ‘I’m going to kill him’. I was like, ‘I think this was my last Christmas ever’ [with him]. And he said ‘I picked this day on purpose, because although we have our fights, we’ve been together and ra ra ra ...’ And he’s right.

FW: Have you made any plans yet re dates etc?

AR: We are kind of hoping to do it in May or June. That’s what we’re aiming for. 

FW: So you are here shooting for Vogue Australia?
AR: Yes I’m shooting for Vogue on the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th. They’re taking me to a place in the middle of the desert. We’re going to do a shoot there, which I’m really excited about because I get to see a bit of Australia. The good thing is I actually have a lot of friends here. Of course, there are a lot of models, girls that I know that are here, there’s [photographer] Emma Summerton, Kannon [Rajah – show producer] . So actually I’m really far away from home but there’s a lot of people that I know who are in Sydney. It’s crazy, because I came to a completely different part of the world, so many hours of travelling and I know so many people, it’s really funny.

FW: Who is shooting you for Vogue?

AR: Max Doyle. There are two shoots. The other one is actually a good friend of mine, a Polish photographer, Marcin Tyszka, he’s a very young upcoming photographer. And we’re doing a shoot together, me and Sasha. And the other one with Max is just me. And we’re shooting a cover so I’m excited. I think there’s going to be like a little interview and then something about style. So it’s going to occupy the whole issue [laughs].

FW: So it’s the Anja Rubik issue of Australian Vogue?

AR: Yeah.

FW: How long are you staying in Australia for?

AR: I’m staying actually until the 20th, so for a little while. And it’s funny because I wanted to come to Australia since a really long time and then I was planning it and something popped up at the last minute so I couldn’t do it. So I’m really excited to be here. I want to go to the Great Barrier Reef and I want to see the red mountain [Ayers Rock]. And I scuba dive, so I want to do a lot of scuba diving.

FW: We have a lot of sharks, you know.

AR: I know, I know. But they never attack the scuba divers, they always attack the surfers. You’re safe underwater. I started diving when I was 14 so it’s quite a long time ago and I’ve been diving all around the world. This is a place I always wanted to come to so it’s exciting. But basically we want to keep the time very spontaneous, which is the best way to do it.
FW: So if you are staying until the 20th, are you not doing the haute couture?
AR: No I am. I’ll probably just go for Chanel, just for Karl. Chanel is on the 25th. So I should be back. I’m going to fly straight to Paris.

FW: Do you have to be careful about getting a tan with some work?

AR: Well no, I do tan very quickly, you do have to do a lot of protection. But they’re not so super strict on that unless you go completely brown. But you know, I’m going to try to do Karl because I’ve worked with Karl quite often and I love him to pieces, I think he’s a genius. I just saw him in Moscow. I was there for the Pirelli launch.

FW: So what else do you have coming up that people might not know about?

AR: I’m on an i-D cover, I don’t know if people know about that. Emma Summerton shot it. She’s genius, I love her to pieces. I mean I have a few campaigns coming out, of course Fendi. And there’s a bunch of editorials that I did. I don’t know which ones people know about. I mean I have a Russian Vogue cover coming out, a Spanish Vogue cover coming out, that should be released soon. And a bunch of stuff I shot before Christmas. 

emma summerton for vogua italia via fashion gone rogue

FW: It will be on TFS soon enough.

AR: It’s crazy, sometimes they have editorial on there… I don’t know how they get it because it’s not even out. And sometimes there are people working for the magazines, they take a picture of the wall or the layout, which is crazy.

FW: Do you read your TFS thread?

AR: I do look at it but I have to say my secret is I don’t really read it. I just look at it from time to time when there’s new pictures. Because they have everything so so quick, that sometimes I’m curious because maybe the newest campaign is out. But I try not to read it because If someone is saying something really bad then I take it very personally so I try to avoid that. I mean I don’t know if they do. I think they’re quite nice but I just look at the pictures. It’s better that way for me. I keep myself more sane.

karl lagerfeld for pirelli via anja rubik fan blog

FW: So for 2010, what were your personal highlights?
AR: My personal highlights....well, fashion highlights, let me see. Actually I think it was the Tom Ford show [at New York Fashion Week in September]. That was such an incredible thing. I always dreamed of doing Tom Ford but I started modelling a little bit later, so I never worked with him when he was at YSL or Gucci. And just the show itself it was so incredible and they weren’t doing like a typical show, it was very old-fashioned, the way the girl would walk out then he would describe the outfit. He would say, ‘Anja Rubik’s wearing this and that’. It was really cute and the runway was very small. People were sitting very close to the runway. And just to be among those incredible women who were there.. because he had models, he had older models, like supermodels, plus a lot of actresses and Beyoncé. So that was an incredible experience. And doing the Pirelli was also incredible, because it was always my dream to take part in this calendar. It’s like the most famous calendar in the world, it’s such a huge honour. And the best people shot for it and the best girls were in it. So that was really great. And I was actually supposed to do the Terry Richardson one but I was a little bit afraid, because I never undressed, I was never shot actually nude before. Although I love Terry and I worked with him a lot for French Vogue and other editorials, but I was a little bit afraid of his Pirelli.

FW: And with good reason.

AR: I knew he would, like, push the borders and you know, I was just afraid of how far they were going to be pushed and if I’m going to feel comfortable. The worst thing is to go somewhere to a shoot and be there and feel uncomfortable. Because first of all, it’s bad for me, it’s bad for him, it just creates a really bad atmosphere. So when Karl was shooting the Pirelli, I just thought, you know, he’s a genius and I knew the way he would shoot a woman would be in the form of art, it would be very beautiful and very tasteful. So that’s why I jumped on board immediately.

FW: So just to clarify this: you actually turned down the Pirelli calendar last year?

AR: Yes I did.

FW: That’s interesting. Have many models turned it down before do you think?

AR: I don’t know. You’d never know, because you deal with your agent, you don’t really know about other girls. I did. I just knew it would be uncomfortable for me and maybe for him, because I wouldn’t feel right in the moment.

FW: Obviously there has been a lot of controversy over Terry Richardson’s modus operandi of late.

AR: Yeah I know, but to be honest I know him, I’ve shot with him many times. And I think he’s great. I never felt uncomfortable, I never thought he pushed me into anything. I think if a girl, like, leaves her green light that she’s open to doing different things, he maybe pushes the boundaries. And if he knows how the girl is. Like I don’t get all these allegations. I mean I worked with him over, I don’t know, 15 times and I never felt awkward…..that I felt I had to do something.

FW: So why turn down a “dream” opportunity to do the Pirelli calendar just because he was shooting it?

AR: Only because I know he would push it a little bit more, in a way that would be very naked and I know that I wouldn’t go there probably. So that’s why it was stupid to accept the challenge because I thought I wouldn’t be capable. And you it’s going to come out, because he has a different kind of take of that, a little bit more on the edge of, you know, I don’t want to say vulgar but on the very, very slight edge of it. There were supposed to be a lot of girls and he likes to shoot a lot of girls with girls and I just didn’t think I’d feel comfortable, that’s why.

FW: But there is so much nudity in fashion photography now, how did you manage to make it to this year’s Pirelli calendar without having ever done any nude photography?

AR: Well I did do topless, but I had never done full-on nude. You say no, I guess. It’s a very individual thing. I didn’t feel comfortable, earlier, before. To be honest, I kind of felt very comfortable with my body and my self actually quite recently, like four or five years ago, I started to feel really good. I had a huge change when I cut my hair, I started feeling more and more feminine and more comfortable with my body and everything. And now just felt like the right time to do it. Always [if] they ask you and you feel comfortable, you say yes. I mean I did do nude …[hard to hear] from the side, but I would always have strings and they would retouch them out.

FW: How long have you been modelling now?

AR: Full time, seven years now. Before that I would model at school.

FW: How do you find the pressures at the top of the business?

AR: Well, I mean, thanks to Photoshop our length of working is extended. Well I’m kind of joking but yeah of course it is, once you get older they can retouch everything out. The most important thing is just to stay on top. Of course there is pressure but you know....number 3, I like number 3. I think if I was number 1 I would be starting to stress ‘Where do I go from there?’ So number 3 actually suits me fine. I wouldn’t mind 2! One would be a little too much pressure.

FW: How about the pressure to be thin? That subject is never going to go away.

AR: No, I’m quite lucky in that I have a good metabolism, but I also eat really healthy and I exercise. I do a lot of yoga and Pilates and I run. You know, the body of a girl who’s a model, that’s her tool. You have to take care of it. It’s not even about being slim or skinny but it’s more about being fit and the quality of the body and [that] the skin is really nice. That’s super important. And now it’s a little bit changing, towards curvier girls, so that’s a really nice change. But they get so caught up in the whole weight thing. When you look at the world, people really die from being overweight, that’s a much, much bigger issue than anorexia. And to be honest, there are a few girls who are young who have difficulty dealing with their weight and what kind of diet. But I think it’s a huge responsibility of the agency to take care of the girls and to kind of lead them the right way. But any of the top girls, like on my level, where we work really a lot, we’re constantly on the plane, we’re constantly working, we’re constantly flying somewhere. And you have to show up in the morning and have a lot of energy and be ‘up’ and happy and you know, give our best. I think if a girl has an eating disorder, she just cannot do that. I think it’s physically impossible. So I think that with the girls are in the top ten at least...I know them personally and I doubt any of them have any larger eating issues. But I have to say if a girl doesn’t have the body type to be a model, if she’s not skinny naturally, that must be very, very difficult.

solve sundsbo for vogue russia via magxone

FW: There have been a lot of model suicides. Did you know Daul Kim well?

AR: I knew her but we weren’t very close. I only talked to her a couple of times. There was Ruslana as well and there have been quite a few male models.

FW: Does it worry you?

AR: Does it worry me? I think it’s a very individual thing. Most of the girls are models who started working very, very young. And every person deals with pressure in different ways. There are a lot of photographers out there that don’t want to work with girls under 18, like for example Inez and Vinood. And I think that’s a really good approach because when you are really young, you can really get mucked up in your head and it can really get to you at times. The way to deal with it and also regarding weight… a girl at 18, she thinks completely differently, she’s more mature than a 17 year old or a 15 year old. So I think if modelling would lean towards using a little bit older girls, like 18 and above, that would be better. But I think it’s such an individual thing, I think you shouldn’t generalise because every person is different. And [there are] different jobs. Being a ballerina for example is so intense.

FW: How old were you when you started modelling?

AR: Well I was actually really young [laughs]. Well fulltime I started when I was actually older, when I was 19. But when I was at school I would model .

FW: It must hard though, when someone is presented with an opportunity at a certain age, whether it’s wise to pass it up.

AR: Of course it’s hard. But if there would be no demand or anything like that... It’s a once in a lifetime kind of chance. It’s not like you can come back to it. You either have your moment or you don’t. And it depends on the model as to whether that moment extends to a career. If she’s smart enough to use it.

FW: So getting back to the engagement, you went to see a vampire film?

AR: No not a film, it’s an opera written by Roman Polanski. They play it all around Europe in different languages. It was actually playing in Poland and I really wanted to see it but I was working and this and that happened, so I saw it in German. It was very emotional and the music kind of tells the story, you don’t need to understand it word by word. I love the whole vampire thing I have to say. The whole idea that there’s the good guy and the bad guy and the girl goes for the bad guy. It’s so obvious, he’s a really good-looking vampire.

FW: And the ring?

AR: Yes I have a ring. It’s a beautiful Cartier ring, I think it’s gold. Solitaire.


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