Russian-born Anna signed with Silent Management in 2007, making her runway debut that October, walking for labels such as Dries Van Noten.
Her impact on the industry grew rapidly, with Anna scoring opening and closing honours in her next ready-to-wear season, opening shows for Balmain and closing for YSL. A huge hit in Paris, Selezneva also walked for Hermes, Lanvin and Louis Vuitton.
Anna’s fresh-faced classic beauty got her noticed by the magazine industry too, with V ranking her one of the Top 10 Models of Autumn / Winter 2008. Also signing a fragrance contract representing the new Vera Wang fragrance, ‘Look’, Selezneva began to create a serious stir, with consecutive magazine covers in September for both French and Russian Vogue.
The French Vogue cover, photographed by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, became a contemporary classic. Anna, evoking supermodels of the Eighties, faced the camera head-on to make an unforgettable impression. Three years later, it has become an image closely affiliated with brand Selezneva: cool, modern glamour.
Anna’s stock began to rise even further, walking in the September shows for Calvin Klein as an exclusive. Her popularity among the world’s designers soared as she was chosen to open S/S shows for Alberta Ferretti, Balmain, Ungaro, plus closing shows for Valentino and Rue du Mail. A slew of editorials followed Anna’s success on the runway, with appearances in V, French Vogue and Russian Vogue.
2009 saw Anna take on even bigger challenges, starting with a shoot with Terry Richardson for the French Vogue calendar. She also made the cover of Italian Vogue in January, working alongside Anna Jagodzinska and Viktoriya Sasonkina. In a cover called ‘Revolution 2009’, Italian Vogue celebrated the explosion of Russian modelling talent with all three models featuring in a high-fashion beauty shot. Wearing flesh-coloured skull-caps, the models worked their Slavic beauty to make a highly original and striking cover.
February saw Anna enjoy her busiest runway season to date, with over 40 appearances on the world’s catwalks. Again opening the show for Balmain (a label gaining in popularity through its revival of the Eighties bold shoulder), Anna also closed shows for Herve Leger, Rodarte and Etro.
She undertook cover duty again in March, this time for Japanese Vogue. Her standing within the modelling industry was cemented when she signed up to front YSL’s fragrance ‘Elle Shocking’. Photographed wearing the famous YSL Le Smoking jacket, Anna’s unique mix of classic beauty and je ne sais quoi helped the fragrance become one of YSL’s biggest success stories.
Filling the next few months with editorials for V, i-D and French Vogue, Anna had her first couture season in July with shows for Elie Saab and Valentino Couture. Her connection with Valentino continued into the autumn, with the opening slot for the RTW show going to Selezneva. Also closing the show for Burberry, Anna was continuing to charm designers from season to season.
Anna ended 2009 with a bang, appearing in a now-famous Italian Vogue editorial, photographed by Steven Meisel. ‘Meiselpic’ was a Twitter-inspired spread featuring top models, past and present. Selezneva’s status moved from newcomer to established, as she took her place among models such as Gisele, Jamie Bochert, Lara Stone and Christy Turlington.
Selezneva began 2010 undertaking another editorial with Italian Vogue. Steven Meisel’s ‘Runway’, took the backstage scenes at Fashion Week and turned them into high-fashion montages. Meisel again used the cream of the fashion crop, hiring new faces such as Gwen Loos and Jac Jagaciak who both got their big break on this epic editorial.
Busier than ever, Anna took on campaign duty for Emporio Armani and appeared in back-to-back editorials for French Vogue, Japanese Vogue, Numero and Harper’s Bazaar. With her credits growing month to month, Selezneva returned to Paris in July to appear in the couture shows, adding Dior and Chanel to her CV.
Autumn 2010 saw Anna take on two massive campaigns for two of the biggest labels in fashion: Ralph Lauren and Versace. An obvious choice for Lauren’s classic palette of Americana, Selezneva was a surprise hit in the Versace ad, working with models such as Iselin Steiro and Valerija Kelava. The ad eschewed the hyper-groomed Versace siren look, favouring a youthful, street-style glamour. It was the start of a new era for the Italian label, working hard to win over a new generation of fans, with the brand going full circle in its reinvention with the hiring of Saskia de Brauw in 2011.
Anna renewed both her contracts with Emporio Armani and Ralph Lauren in 2011, beginning the year with more couture shows (Armani Prive, Valentino and Chanel). Selezneva continued the year with cover and editorial credits, working for French, Russian and Japanese Vogue. The editorials ranged from high-fashion shoots with Hedi Slimane for Japanese Vogue to opulent, fine jewellery spreads for Russian Vogue.
With a strong call-sheet for Spring / Summer 2012, Anna is still proving an irresistible force for many of fashion’s biggest names. Walking for labels such as Chanel, Dior, Isabel Marant and Gareth Pugh, Selezneva remains at the top of her game four years into her career.
The reason for Anna’s ongoing success isn’t hard to figure. Even in an industry built around beauty, faces like Anna’s simply don’t come around that often. Beautiful by any standard, Selezneva has become an established figure in modelling because her perfect proportions make her able to sell virtually any product to anyone. Regardless of whether it’s diamonds to the Russian elite or American style for the devotees of Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors, Anna’s face is a perfect fit every time.
Anna has not only survived in this industry, but excelled because her beauty can handle fashion’s trickier aspects. The prospect of modelling for left-field labels such as Lanvin and Balmain can often mean classic beauty being a liability rather than an asset. Anna is a favourite with these designers because she understands what their label demands, and delivers every time. Her edgier editorials with magazines like Numero and V should by rights belong to quirky, off-beat beauties, but Selezneva convinces because she can play against the commercial aspect of her beauty.
Not afraid to get ugly is what has made Anna not just another beauty, but a true fashion superstar. Challenging, avant-garde work courtesy of Japanese Vogue works a different set of fashion muscles compared to a campaign with Calvin Klein, but mastering both requires genuine insight. Anna’s intelligent approach to each assignment has made her consistently in-demand across the world. She tailors her beauty to every new editorial, campaign or cover, as some will require it takes centre stage, while other bookings will insist that her features be played down.
Success stories like Anna’s are unusual because classic beauty hasn’t been in vogue for some time. We have seen doll-like, Pre-Raphaelite beauty; streetwise androgynous beauty and quirky faces that are all about that one killer feature. Between Lindsey Wixson’s pout and Arizona Muse’s strong, determined brows, conventional beauty hasn’t had much time in the spotlight. Seen as inflexible or even dated, designers have chosen to side-step classic beauty in favour of edgy faces that offer themselves up as a blank canvas. Anna is no blank canvas, but her adaptability in front of the lens has meant that fashion has had to take a fresh look at what was once termed ‘commercial beauty’. With newer faces such as Joan Smalls and Emily Di Donato scooping major campaigns, the line that was once drawn, clearly marking the territory between commercial and high-fashion has now been blurred. It isn’t a case of taking preference of one type of beauty over another: now there is room for both.
Selezneva has succeeded where others have failed because her modern, custom-made approach has made her perfect for high-fashion. Even with a face most would consider essential for working in the fashion industry, Anna comes equipped with the knowledge and awareness that beauty isn’t always enough. Fashion is consistent in its need for change, and being a one-note performer will ensure a career that expires before its time. Anna’s willingness to embrace an aesthetic that plays against her beauty has made her not only relevant, but a contemporary tour-de-force. Anna’s career is a great example of playing the hand you’re dealt. Beauty is a great place to start, but fashion will always ask for something more.HELEN TOPE