Posted by Stephan Moskovic | June 30th, 2015

Vanessa Axente drifts into the High Line Hotel’s open patio. She’s easy to spot among the throngs of partially thawed New Yorkers. A tall, leggier-than-most blonde with cunningly carved features–not too sharp or too dull. Soberingly pretty and at the same time, perhaps, even a bit unassuming. There’s no jolie laide here. She’s not alien-like or flouting conventions. But, make no mistake, the Hungarian cover girl is not just another flaxen, strawberry-cheeked beauty from a far-off countryside. Her words are said with aplomb for being only nineteen. She has the casual contentedness of a self-effacing person, even though she’s quickly moving into a class of model that doesn’t lose its luster. For which she is gracious she tells us; she still just can’t get over the fact. Her slow burning charm doesn’t need any glossing and explains the stamina of her career, one that started off with a bang opening the Prada Fall 2012 show then landing that season’s campaign. From there she became a Meisel exclusive and started inking her résumé with shows and top covers. That includes her three Vogue Italias, plus the nine-model American Vogue September issue alongside the likes of supers Joan Smalls, Cara Delevigne and Karlie Kloss. Just as impressive is her list of campaigns with seasons worth of Prada and Calvin Klein ads. All in three short years she’s check-listed just about every top-level photographer. Now for Models.com, Stas Komarovski captures a perfectly posed Vanessa in true form, naturally glowing in cool spring light.

Photographer: Stas Komarovski
Stylist: Catherine Newell-Hanson (Home Agency)
Makeup Artist: Cyndle Komarovski @ Honey Artists
Hair Stylist: Cecilia Romero using Bumble and Bumble
Model: Vanessa Axente @ DNA Models
Text and interview by Steven Yatsko

On the cover photo Vanessa is wearing: Dress (worn as top) Dior, jeans stylist’s own
When did you start modeling and how? 

I started modeling when I was 13 because of my older sister. She started modeling when I was 12. Actually I didn’t even know that modeling was a job and you could be a model. So when I saw her pictures in Hungarian magazines I was like, “Oh my god, that’s pretty amazing, you can be in Hungarian magazines!” When I turned 13 I was still kind of nervous to tell my parents that I was interested in it.

How tall where you when you started? 

Very tall. I was 179cm, now I’m 182cm. Actually my mother agent was really scared I was going to be too tall. She actually sent me to an x-ray place where they can tell how much more you’re going to grow. They can see if your bones are already grown or if maybe there’s still a few more centimeters. 

What’d they say?

They said 1 or 2 more centimeters. I was already 181 then. 

So they were right. Unless you’re going to keep growing…

I hope I stop! I don’t mind being this tall… but it’s enough. 

In your own eyes, what was the moment that your career took off? 

People would say when I did the Prada show as an exclusive girl. I think from my eyes, also when I got the Prada campaign and started to do all the shoots with Steven [Meisel]. 

Coat Altuzarra, jeans and bra stylist’s own
How was he?

I was really scared. Actually, when I have a photo shoot with him now I’m still very nervous. When I go on set I can feel my hands shaking. He’s amazing. I was exclusive for him for almost nine months and I learned so many things, like about my body when they take pictures of me. When you sell a bag how to hold the bag… how to put your fingers and other things. He gave me so many photos from all his other photo shoots. So I was always checking the pictures and checking the poses he had the models do.  I would practice in front of the mirror. 

He gave a lot of direction?

Yeah. But in another way sometimes he didn’t tell me what to do… but at the end of the shoot I was like, “Okay I learned something new again!” It’s kind of like when I grew up, my parents never told me you should do this or can’t do that, but you kind of just felt what you should do or shouldn’t do. 

Speaking of direction, what are some other memorable moments a photographer has given you? 

Actually, it wasn’t a photo shoot, but in the rollerskating video. I really enjoyed that with Gordon. We had to do so many fun things, but there were some difficult ones. I actually like when they ask me to do something difficult. Maybe I can, but I don’t think I can– but I’m going to try. Also I had one photo shoot with Mario Sorrenti for Vogue Paris.  I mean that was a really hot and sexy editorial. I was only 17, I think, but I had to be really sexy! Also the cover with Steven on the motorbike. It was so much fun, but you know when you’re 16 and you have to act sexy…

How did they direct you to be sexy?

What I really like is when they put on music, maybe seductive music when you can feel the mood and those kind of things. I think that’s the best way to feel the mood.

left: Dress and skirt Proenza Schouler, sweater (around waist) Sonia by Sonia Rykiel | right: Top Prada, jeans stylist’s own
Did you know how to roller-skate before?

[laughs] I can roller-skate with rollerblades. I used to be really good at that, but I hadn’t done it for years. But the one in the video is two in the front and two in the back. I’m not so good at that and we had to practice a lot. 

Well you were going pretty slow… or was that just the slow motion? 

The thing with rollerblades is the brake is in the back, and with this the brake is in the front, so I was always scared I was going to fall. I did a few times, but it wasn’t a big fall… Still! 

Aside from rollerskating, what else can you do? 

I do so many things! I used to play basketball and I was dancing when I was younger. Now I’m playing badminton, I like cycling, I started jogging. I still dance when I have time. Especially when I’m in Hungary and have a big space. Also I really like the game on the Wii where you have the stick in your hand. For that we have a dancing game and you would think it’s super easy, but when you dance for an hour or an hour and a half your arms really hurt. 

What game is it? 

It’s called Just Dance. 

I’m really bad at that game.

I always play with my sister. I’m the best one.

Dress Valentino
If you had to do the same shoot that you’ve already done over and over again which would it be? 

I can’t say just one.

But you must say just one. 

Only one! I’ve worked with almost all the best photographers, but you know I started with Steven and for one year I only worked with him. So all the biggest experiences I had were with him. I really enjoyed the one with the motorbike, but there was another story, also a cover, when I’m with the Swedish guy Gustav. That was really really nice. 

Because he was so handsome?

He’s handsome! But not my type! I mean just the pictures and also the mood. On that shoot I really felt I learned a lot because that’s when they gave me all the pictures and they told me what to do and how to practice. 

Are guys just falling at your feet? 

Actually that’s what most people think. But no! Not at all actually. When I’m talking with my friends they’re like, “I’m pretty sure so many rich people want to take you to their boats,” and I’m like, “No, actually not.” Maybe there are one or two guys, but not really. And I don’t know if most of them are scared to come and talk to me or I’m just not an interesting person [laughs]. 

Do you still collect all the magazines you’re in?

I have quite a lot. I have some here and some in Hungary. If you wanted to ask… I don’t have pictures of myself on the wall! Sometimes I just open them and it’s so much fun to see. Especially when you look at the first Vogue Italia and the second and the one which I just had to see how I’ve grown and improved. Luckily. 

Dress (worn as top) Miu Miu, jeans stylist’s own
Let’s talk about your American Vogue September cover. 

It was amazing. It was the first time I was working with Mario Testino. Also Tonne, the stylist, was so much fun. You know working with all these big models, I mean already being on the cover of American Vogue is one of the best things that could happen and I never thought it would happen actually… they always have the biggest girls. 

You were just planning to be on the Hungarian magazines… What was it like with all the girls?

Karlie, Joan and Cara–they’ve known each other for a long time, so they hung out, but I was super happy Karlie came up to me. I was still in school and had my graduation a week after the photoshoot. So when I had time I was writing and studying so she came up to me and was talking to me. I was super surprised, it was nice. And Andreea I know her. So it was fun. I was very happy because in the beginning I thought all the big models, you know, they don’t talk. 

Just smoke cigarettes and text? 

Exactly, but not actually! I mean that’s why they are there. 

What do you do when you’re home and it’s quiet? 

I read a lot. 

What kind of books? 

Actually, I’m really interested in psychology. So I read quite a lot about psychology. Usually I read three books at the same time. Like one main one I really concentrate on, then one for the photoshoots when you’re kind of busy, but want to relax a bit–like fun stories. And then one always about food or wines or something, you know, so you can improve yourself. 

Top vintage from Georgia, bra Eres, jeans stylist’s own
Any nicknames?

Nessi here. But in Hungary they call me Voni, Nessa and–Vancso.

What does that mean?

It doesn’t mean anything, it’s just a cute one. 

Tell me about your animals.

Well I have my English bulldog. She’s a family dog, but I always say she’s my dog. Her name is Bodza. And I have two rabbits. The horse is my mom’s horse. When I’m in Hungary I sometimes go horse riding with my mom, but I’m not as good as her. What we do sometimes… she’s riding the horse and I take the bike, or I jog with her. 

You run next to the horse? Can you keep up?

Well, the horse is not running. Actually we just did a video with my sister and I ran six kilometers next to them. I wanted to post it, but I was like maybe I shouldn’t.

Why not? 

About social media… The thing is that I really like Instagram and I started when it came out and I was always taking nature pictures and pictures of my animals, but now because I’m kind of a known model they really just want to see selfies and pictures of myself. But when I post my animals or nature they don’t really like it. It still gets likes, but not so much.  I’m actually thinking to get two accounts. One private one for animals and nature photos and then one professional one. 

What do you think of your looks? 

Well, I’m actually very happy to say that I’m happy with every part of my body. Modeling helped me a lot… and I grew into it, I’m 19 so I have become kind of a woman. But before I started modeling, in primary school most of my classmates were always making fun. They were saying I’m the giraffe and I’m so flat, so I didn’t like that. I had no boobs, but I was still always satisfied with my body. I’m still very happy, because I do sports and I work out.

…You turned out fine. 

I don’t want to complain. 

You have to pack for a two day trip what are the things that you bring? 

My favorite book. My phone. Headphones. And also my diary. I mean it’s not like a diary, but still when I have some ideas or things in my head and I write it down. I write quite a lot these days.

What things do you write about? Any thoughts that reoccur? 

About my life. I’m super happy and I think I’m the luckiest girl all these things that happened to me with my career. But still I don’t know if I will ever realize. Everyday I’m like, “Oh my god I can’t believe I’m here. I’m nineteen and in New York.” Just thinking about that. So that’s the main topic that keeps coming back all the time. 

Do you think modeling is a luxury? 

In a way yes. That’s an interesting question. It’s really not an everyday job. I mean sometimes it can be very difficult, but still it’s one of the most amazing jobs you can have… all the places you go and shooting with all the people. And even in a studio. I mean for my first Vogue Italia cover with Steven we had chickens in the studio and we had to chase the chickens. So yes, I think so.  

What’s the first thing you do when you get to a foreign country? 

Go to my hotel and leave all my stuff in the room and go for a walk and explore the city. Especially in the beginning. Most of the big brands do shows in Asia or in the U.S. and they fly all the models in for 2 days in a super nice hotel–you’re staying in a Park Hyatt or Ritz Carlton, which is amazing but most of the girls just stay in the swimming pool. But what I do is leave my stuff and go see everything I can in that short time. I love walking around. 

Never have I ever… 

Never have I ever… there are so many things I haven’t done. But something I want to do… skydiving. Because I’m afraid of heights.

Do you have any personal rules that you’ll never break? 

Yeah, I have a personal rule: never change. But that’s something I think my friends can remind me if I’m breaking it or not.

Coat Altuzarra, T-shirt Calvin Klein, slip Nili Lotan, shirt (around waist) See by Chloe

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6 Comments to “Vanessa Axente”

  1. clados says:

    Oh God how beautiful she is, what a smile!

  2. Hope says:

    Very stunning. And very inspirational. I wish i had started at an early age, regardless though positive energy is always very nice. Thank you!

  3. Robert D. says:

    Vanessa just has something so amazing to her; can’t really explain but she’s so refreshing.

  4. Jeremy says:

    Gosh she is simply amazing…so beautiful inside and out. I really think she’s one of the new generation’s supermodels.

  5. tchelet says:

    beautiful and relaxing Production love to look at this…..<3

  6. Lily says:

    Hi there,
    it’s me again… I couldn’t help but noticing Yasmin le Bon on the cover of Red magazine. While the Red magazine isn’t exactly blue chip, I still think she should be included in the legends/icons section. I mean just look at her, she’s been working since mid 80’s and still looks as fresh as ever and she does still work.
    Then there’s Tatiana Patitz… I’ve mentioned her earlier. She’s one of the original “Big five” from George Michael’s “Freedom ’90” and from the Peter Lindbergh documentary etc. She still does work for the likes of L’Oreal and Avon.
    I know I am always asking for things, hopefully more politely these days, and that you guys don’t work with the rankings really. If you could just give some elbow to the rankings people at your weekly meet-up and see what happens. Basically if they could just honor these two ladies, I’d be fulfilled and couldn’t think of anything else to ask for… unless Tasha Tilberg gains some more comeback momentum 😉

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