L’Officiel Arabia: Elena, in Ukraine you had some big career and are rightly called a famous person. You were a TV presenter on the popular OTV-channel, and also hosted an author’s program for the Fashion ID channel. Why did you decide to move to the United States?
Elena Dunder: It was a forced decision to stay in the States, because at the time of my trip, hostilities began in my country. Long ago the United States has attracted me with its versatility and prospects, besides that I had been planning this trip since last year, when I won the title of Miss Ukraine International. Of course, the war has made its own adjustments, but generally I am glad that now I am in the United States. You know, I always like to set the most ambitious goals for myself and try to achieve them. Difficulties strengthen character. Perhaps it would be easier now to move to Europe, where I’ve already got so many offers and contacts, but I’ll always be able to do it.
LOA: By the way, tell us about the contest itself ? Surely there was a lot of intrigue and competition? Tell us about your experience, how you were preparing and how your life had been changed after the contest?
ED: Any beauty contest is first of all a competition and you must look glamorous and worthy. But it seems silly to me to change something in yourself exactly for the contest, you must always look gorgeous! I always try to be fit: I monitor my health and nutrition, look after my face and body - this is very important for my modeling career. At the contest, I was exactly the same person as my close people see me every day - they are my main judges. About the intrigue and gossip – I’m very glad that this did not affect me, although there were curious situations with other girls. I think that healthy, kind competition is always good. It motivates you to get better, work on yourself and be successful. But it happens, of course, in a different way. I try to communicate only with confident and positive people. I can definitely say that after my victory, I got more commercial contracts and it became a little easier for me to raise funds for my charity foundation “The Soul’s Beauty +.” We were able to organize several charity evenings after my victory and raise funds to support the children who have cancer.
LOA: You are doing a great job, as I know the activities of your fund have expanded due to the military situation in Ukraine?
ED: Yes, unfortunately the war in Ukraine came as a surprise to all of us. Previously, my Foundation was specialized in helping children with cancer and orphans, but now we are also helping children left without parents, families who have lost their homes, as well as people aged with the necessary medicines. Additionally, being a well-known person and celebrity, I give daily interviews on American television channels and try to tell about Ukraine at all events where I am invited. We must not forget that even if we are safe now, there is a war in our country and millions of our fellow citizens are suffering. And for my part, I try to do everything to help. I support Ukrainian brands when I am invited to charity evenings or public events, I always provide information support through my social networks. Victory consists of a small battle of each of us!
LOA: Your stories are so motivating! Tell us how you find your inner motivation and what your secret is.
ED: Most people lose themselves in searching motivation and begin to blame others for their failures: they say they were born in the wrong place, didn’t study for a certain specialty, they haven’t any opportunities... But these are just excuses not to move forward. Every day we are given a chance to change our destiny. It only depends on ourselves what our life will be. Remember this when you wake up in the morning - everything is only in our hands! The main thing is never to give up, whatever happens - to go forward!
LOA: Tell us how you decided to become a model, probably now all your childhood dreams have come true.
ED: As a child, I was a very active and all-round one - I always did sports, got involved with music, studied well and always participated in all events. After school, I entered law faculty and graduated with a degree in International law. I also received a diploma certificate in music education. Modeling, like a career, never attracted me, but certainly, like any girl, I loved dressing up, I was fascinated by the process of photography and I often received offers from brands. Therefore, beginning to work with model contracts and going to shoot in other cities was more familiar for me than something extremely new. Besides that, from childhood I was used to travelling with my parents – we traveled half the world together. In winter, we always went to Dubai to wait out the cold, so the Emirates is like a second home for me. I adore Dubai for the standard of living, service, climate, opportunities of this city. I’m impressed by their approach - to be the first and best in everything! They value their time and the time of others and create a highly competitive multicultural environment for doing business and living in their country. And we always spent summer time in the south of Italy and France. My most favorite places are the French Riviera and Monaco. I think I will definitely move there, but already at a calmer age. Now among my favorite cities, I can name New York, Los Angeles, Monaco, Dubai, London - its energy is close to me.
LOA: You always look amazing, the image is thought out to the smallest detail, styling, perfect makeup.. Tell us how you do this.
ED: First of all, I am grateful to my parents for the genes, but of course this is the work of the entire team. When I was in Ukraine, the whole team always worked on my image: the personal stylist with whom we picked up things and went shopping, I even sent photos of new things when I bought them myself abroad so that she could make me a personal look book. The best makeup artist and hair stylist came in the morning so that I could leave the house with styling. Of course, when I moved to the United States, I had to look for a team again and it’s not so easy. But I was very lucky to find my perfect stylist during shooting in Los Angeles: she works only with celebrities, among her regular clients Paris Hilton is and I am very glad that I managed to find a professional of this level. Now I have a lot of shootings, almost every other day, so the issue of makeup and styling has temporarily been resolved, but I’m still looking for my perfect team here.
LOA: Tell us what inspires you and gives you energy in your work.
ED: Most of all I’m inspired by the people I work with - they are creative, hardworking and at the same time create delightful things that become world masterpieces. Working with such people is a pleasure. And of course, shootings in unusual places, like one of my last one in Los Angeles when we went to shoot beautiful dresses in the Joshua Tree National Park desert, there is a very inspiring atmosphere, huge trees, endless spaces – it is breathtaking.
LOA: Tell us about shooting for this cover; it also took place in Los Angeles.
ED: Yes, I was very pleased. For this shooting, the professional team of 10 people was involved, who worked 48 hours to create the perfect shots! I’m very grateful to them! Each of them is a professional in their field! I worked with Paris Hilton’s stylist and two stylist assistants, hair stylist, makeup artist, photographer, assistant of photographer, video production, designer, owner of the luxury villa when we created this shoot. They are a very strong and professional team who only works with celebrities in Hollywood. By the way, this trip was fortunate one for me, as I was offered to star in the Hollywood film! Last year, at the Cannes Film Festival, I watched the release of new films and wondered that I would definitely like to try myself as an actress! Dreams must come true! And on this trip, I got such an offer, filming is planned for this autumn, and the film is scheduled for release next year. But all the details will be shared later.
LOA: Probably you are often asked how you keep up everything. I would like to know what you do in your free time, if you have free time.
ED: Yes, I really have a lot of work, but I’m good at planning. Additionally, I have a great team that competently makes my schedule. I really appreciate my time and in my free time I like to walk along the ocean. It calms me down and fills me with energy. I also devote time to self-development: reading books, meditation, I love playing golf, playing sports and care procedures. I also really like travelling. When you are acquainted with new cities and cultures - you get a very emotional feeling.
LOA: You have already achieved so much, but I think you have even more ambitious plans in future. Tell us about upcoming projects and dreams.
ED: I’m sure you must never stop dreaming! After all, dreams move us forward. Concerning plans and projects for the near future: I was invited to open a cruise collection at Miami Fashion Week, and I am also invited as the main model to several designers at New York Fashion Week and plan to work at Los Angeles Fashion Week if I find time between shooting of the film. In addition, my agent is negotiating the shooting of promotion campaign for the American clothing brand and I became the ambassador of the famous Italian shoes brand. Also, one of the projects that inspires me very much - shooting in the Hollywood film - is my personal challenge and I’m sure that the project will be successful! Unfortunately, now I cannot tell the details, but very soon you will find out everything!
TALENT | Elena Dunder @elena_du_
CREATIVE DIRECTOR | AmbiKa “B” Sanjana @styledbyambika
PRODUCER & PHOTOGRAPHER | Igor Malakhov @igor_malakhov
LEAD STYLIST | AmbiKa “B” Sanjana @styledbyambika
STYLIST ASSISTANT 1 | Brittany Jackson @brittanyraexoxo
STYLIST ASSISTANT 2 | Darrin Wallace @dvllvc5
MARKET | Bianca Agrusa @bianca_agrusa
HAIRSTYLIST | Jared Reed @jtouch
MUA | Kseniya Bernkhardt @k.hart.muah
PHOTOGRAPHER ASSISTANT | Andrey Buruk @by7andrey
VIDEOGRAPHER | George Masin @perspectiveout
LOCATION COURTESY | Observatory @theobservatorybelair
Jonathan Sands @joncsands