The Siberian American: Guest Post: Fashion's Cinderella Stories

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Guest Post: Fashion's Cinderella Stories

Note: This is a sponsored post written by Mary Jane Fashion for The Siberian American. 

Mary Jane Fashion looks at some of the industry’s key players who went from rags to riches

Like in many areas of business, there are powerful, influential people who were not born into the opulent, grand world they now inhabit. Although many were born into design and retail families, there are those who were either plucked from obscurity or worked their way up to being some of the most prominent figures in their field. Their stories are truly inspiring and the fashion world has benefitted from their presences; they have produced great work and wonderful moments that have benefitted and shone the best possible light on the industry. Here are some of the most famous figures who came from very humble origins and managed to become fully fledged fashion stars.

Natalia Vodianova
 Photo by Georges Seguin
One of the most highly paid and respected models in the world, Natalia Vodianova hails from Nizhny Novgorod in Russia (formerly Gorky in the Soviet Union) and was born into relative poverty. Her father walked out on her and the rest of the family when she was a toddler and she made money by selling fruit at a market stall with her mother. It was at this street market where she was discovered by a modelling scout and she went on to become one of the most prolific models in the fashion industry. She established a long-term relationship with American design house Calvin Klein (shop similar styles at Mary Jane Fashion), was a spokesmodel for Chanel beauty, featured in editorials for all the major fashion magazines-including a famous Alice in Wonderland shoot by Annie Liebovitz that also featured Tom Ford- and walked for houses like Yves Saint Laurent, Dior and Versace. As well as being one of the most recognisable faces in fashion, she is a committed philanthropist, setting up charities like The Naked Heart Foundation amongst many others, which aid young impoverished people growing up in Russia.

Malaika Firth
Photo by Christopher Macsurak
Although she didn’t live in abject poverty like Vodianova, Malaika Firth’s background was not one of unparalleled affluence. Born in Kenya, the Firth’s moved to Barking in London, sharing a room with her sister and auntie and only have £2 to spend each day on her lunch. Famously, Firth’s mother rang up a modelling agency about representation for her daughter and she was signed straight away. Since then, she has modelled for fashion houses like Burberry and was the first black model to be featured on the runway and in a campaign for Prada since Naomi Campbell 19 years previously. Now she is a go-to model for many design houses, walking for Marc Jacobs, Kenzo and Dolce and Gabbana and is friends with other top models like Cara Delevigne and Jourdan Dunn. Firth has also maintained her relationship with Prada, which is a brilliant move towards fashion’s embracement of diversity.

Giorgio Armani
Photo by Jan Schroeder
Armani is one of fashion’s greatest designers and has, in many ways, transcended fashion with his business empire, which now includes a chain of exclusive restaurants and hotels on top of his menswear and womenswear labels. Famous for his high-quality, luxury goods, Armani is synonymous with style and sophistication. His early life, however, was troubled, because he grew up in the throes of Italian fascism under Mussolini and during the Second World War, with his home town Piacenza and nearby Milan frequently bombed by Allied forces, killing some of his childhood friends. Armani’s first taste of fashion and glamour came when he went to see films in Milan’s cinema, and sowed the seeds for his love of all things refined and beautiful. After a stint at medical school, he rose up through fashion’s ranks and in 2013 was worth an estimated $8.5 billion.


  1. I love the tidbit about Armani - I had no idea about his story! I love the story of how Adrianna Lima was discovered - eating a hamburger on the beach in Brazil...seriously! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

  2. Love hearing stories like these which inspire me so much more than those who grew up privileged. I had no idea about Armani, so neat!

    Green Fashionista

  3. I really love hearing about backgrounds of people. I often peruse wikipedia just for the heck of it, endlessly fascinating to hear everyone's stories. It's especially fascinating when really successful people have backgrounds in poverty. How wonderful that they were able to rise above it.

  4. I wish I could just call up a huge agency and say "HIRE ME!" and they would like with Malaika haha that is awesome and she is gorgeous!! I guess I never really think about how models and amazing designers have these cool backgrounds :)
    xo, Candace | Lovely Little Rants

  5. wow, i had no idea. i love learning little things like this about people, especially Armani. Who knew?!


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