It’s hard not to think of Anja Rubik when describing the quintessential supermodel—and not just because she’s beautiful of face, blonde of hair, and is the owner of a pair of legs that, seemingly, stretch to the heavens. The 32-year-old is also a true original; purveyor of unabashed sex appeal (she’s proud to pose naked and is all for freeing the nipple), edgy street style, and admirable business savvy.
Polish-born and New York–based, the 32-year-old has her own perfume (fittingly called Original); launched an annual magazine, 25, which explores sensuality and social themes like women empowerment; hosts “Project Runway” in her native Poland; and still finds time to walk the occasional runway, playing muse to newly minted Saint Laurent creative director Anthony Vaccarello, as well as being known as a longtime favorite of Karl Lagerfeld (she made a triumphant return to his catwalk at the Chanel show in Paris last month).
It’s all these things and more that have contributed to Rubik’s longevity in the industry and made her one of fashion’s most captivating characters. We got a chance to chat with the supermodel and got her mantras on a wide-ranging variety of themes, including fashion, fitness, fragrance, feminism, sex, and why we should all feel free in our own skin.
My beauty routine revolves around taking very good care of my skin.
I use Bioderma Créaline to remove my makeup, then apply rosewater and follow with Astalift Revitalizing Moisture Emulsion and Mayumi Natural Skin Supplement. I also like La Prairie’s Anti-Aging Emulsion SPF 30, Skin Cellular Treatment Gold Illusion Line Filler, and Skin Caviar Luxe Cream. It’s also really important to stay hydrated and eat clean.
My fitness routine is a healthy blend.
I work out with a trainer, and we do a mix of things with an emphasis on weight-lifting. I also do yoga regularly, I’ve been practicing for many years—it recharges me, keeps me balanced and strong, and is the best way to de-stress. I also love going for long runs.
My style is a mix of tough and feminine.
I like modern classics with a punk twist. I don’t like to blend in. I always wear something that has an attitude, interesting details, and some wild element. Currently, I’m obsessed with my new Chloé brown floor-length winter coat and this vintage satin souvenir Japanese jacket. I love Gianvito Rossi pumps and Saint Laurent combat boots. For jewelry, my favorites pieces are from Shaun Leane and Repossi.
My favorite Fall 2016 collections were:
Vetements, it’s a whole new wave of fashion that feels very now. I also really love what Denma [Gvasalia] is doing; and Loewe was great, the pieces and palette were really beautiful. Anthony Vaccarello is also a favorite; he’s so talented.
I believe the fashion industry creates a superficial idea of beauty.
A woman’s beauty should come from her inner strength and confidence, not from constantly trying to achieve an unattainable idea set by unrealistic standards. The female body is just so beautiful—a woman’s curves, legs, hips, her breasts.
I consider myself a modern woman.
Modern women are bold and confident yet also in touch with their femininity and sexuality. When a woman is self-aware and comfortable in her skin, it’s really powerful and beautiful. I love meeting women who have a strong sense of self and who challenge themselves to reach their dreams.
I created my fragrance to carry that message.
Original [by Anja Rubik] is more than a perfume, it’s a mood, a state of mind and represents me, my aesthetic, my vision. My aim is to inspire women to rediscover their uniqueness and provoke them to follow their own path. Lilies are the heart because I wanted my fragrance to be floral but sensual, and I like what the lily stands for—visually they are pure, but at the same time they are a symbol of desire. Robert Mapplethorpe’s black-and-white photographs of lilies were a huge inspiration. I added green tea notes to give it a modern and unisex feel, pink peppercorn to make it sexy and spicy, and amber to give it my personal touch, as I have always gravitated toward woody scents.
I’m proud that my magazine has an erotic undertone.
Sex is the only action that stimulates all five senses, and the latest issue of 25 is a celebration of the power and impact of the senses. We play with different textures of paper, there’s a bookmark you have to scratch and smell, and every page is created to awaken your senses. We always approach different artists to see how they are inspired by the theme. We invited Ben Gorham of Byredo Parfums to talk about smell, memory, and how he works. Ben also spoke with Carsten Höller, an amazing artist, about a project they’ve been doing together that explores how human psychology is influenced through taste and smell.
I believe we should celebrate sex and sensuality.
Some people can be very uncomfortable with subjects that are very natural—like sex and the body. Censorship of sex and our bodies sends a message that we should be ashamed of our sensuality, it’s so backwards. I hope my work makes an impact on how people think about the subject of sensuality.
I love the supermodels of the ’90s!
I grew up watching George Michael’s “Freedom” video and idolized Linda Evangelista, Nadia Auermann, and Christy Turlington. They’re such iconic, beautiful women to me.
Nothing makes me happier than collaborating with incredible talent.
[Photographer] Paola Kudacki is one of my best friends, so it’s always great to work together. The way she captures beauty and the power of the modern woman is sensual and strong and on a women’s terms. Woodkid [music director] is also a good friend I love to collaborate with. He created “Soundlab” in the latest issue, where he curated a group of amazing musical talents to explore sound and vibration. Daniel Arsham is one of the most interesting contemporary artists, who throws himself into different mediums from film to sculpture and architecture. It was especially interesting to have him explore the senses, as he is color-blind.
I have many causes close to my heart.
I’m very involved with DKMS Americas, a nonprofit organization that recruits bone-marrow donors for leukemia patients. I also serve as an international ambassador and spokesperson for UNICEF Poland. Addressing climate change and saving endangered wildlife is also something that is very important to me.
I live by the mantra:
If one door closes, try the window! Also, never stop learning. I hope my work inspires women to celebrate their independence, strength, femininity, and sensuality. Confidence and positive body image is a beautiful thing. I also want to encourage women to speak their minds, chase their dreams, and be supportive—not competitive—of one another.
In my spare time…
I love going to the cinema, but I don’t watch TV. Music-wise, Mary Komasa, the xx, Patti Smith, Ibeye, Massive Attack, Chet Faker, China Woman, and Ludovic Einaudi are on heavy rotation. My favorite book that I could read over and over is The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.
My favorite destination is…
Mallorca, but recently I went to Havana, Cuba, and completely fell in love with it. It was difficult to leave, and I’ll be going back soon.