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ARTICLE PATRIK SANDBERG

PHOTOGRAPHY SEBASTIAN FAENA

STYLIST CARLYNE CERF DE DUDZEELE

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CALVIN KLEIN S/S '13

JOEL FORD - AIRBIRD

LIVING DOLL

EXTRA CREDITS

makeup lena koro for nars cosmetics (tracey mattingly agency)  hair greg bitterman for oribe hair care (ray brown pro)  Manicure Marisa Carmichael  Tailor Melissa Canella (Lars Nord Studio)  Light design Chris Bisagni  Digital technician Benedict Brink  Stylist assistants Kate Grella and Alban Roger  Makeup assistant Marco Castro  Hair assistant Tiffany Damiani for Anthony Leonard Salon  Production Helena Martel and Spencer Morgan Taylor  Production assistant Alberto Maria Colombo  Location The Standard Hotel, High Line  Location equipment ROOT [EQ]  Video Martin Landgreve  Retouching Xi Chen  Special thanks Daniela Maerky

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LIVING DOLL

PHOTOGRAPHY SEBASTIAN FAENA
FASHION CARLYNE CERF DE DUDZEELE
TEXT PATRIK SANDBERG

INTERNET GODDESS VALERIA LUKYANOVA HAS IGNITED CONTROVERSY WITH HER EXTRAORDINARY LOOK. DRIPPING IN THE SEASON'S FINEST JEWELS, THE NEOSPIRITUAL UKRAINIAN BEAUTY REVEALS HER BELIEF THAT ALTERING REALITY IS THE KEY TO LIFE




They call her the human Barbie, and her emergence is an online phenomenon that only could have manifested in 2012. Though Valeria Lukyanova had been posting videos of her almost inhuman beauty since November of last year, it was only when Gawker Media site Jezebel discovered the Ukrainian singer on April 22 that a virtual firestorm erupted, her likeness spreading through inboxes and across Twitter with breakneck velocity. The resulting chatter reached a soprano pitch—and with good reason. Her preferred look is so calculated and seemingly artificial that it borders on CGI. “Has Valeria achieved her Mattel-made look through surgery?” asked the Huffington Post. “Does she even exist?” London’s Daily Mail demanded to know. ABC News launched something of an investigation into the mysterious meme and concluded, “It’s unclear whether Lukyanova exists at all, or whether it’s all a hoax thanks to the world of photo editing.”

The truth is that Valeria is very much real, as brought to our attention by a Ukrainian contact who prefers to remain anonymous. The referral came with a strict warning to keep away from the musician and self-professed practitioner of “astral projection” (the practice of out-of-body travel). Our source also claimed that the Security Service of Ukraine is having Lukyanova’s activities monitored. “Be careful,” we were warned. “We’re worried for you, and do not want you to suffer from her.” Of course our interest was piqued.   Born in the Moldavian city of Tiraspol, the girl who calls herself “Amatue” (her spiritual name, an Atlantean reference to the goddess of the sun, she says) now resides in Odessa, Ukraine. Though she admits on her site that she is “endowed by nature with extraordinary external data,” her main focus is on her musical and spiritual pursuits.  We brought this viral phenom to New York City, entranced by her unnaturally thin waist, dramatic curves, and trendy, new age sense of style, which often includes pastel spaghetti-strap crop tops, navel piercings, and bindis. To say that her beauty routine is peculiar—she exaggerates her dew-drop eyes through makeup tricks and contact lenses—would be an understatement. Since Valeria’s star began to rise, many other such human avatars have sprung up, from San Francisco (home of Dakota Rose, aka Kotakoti) to China (where a new star by the name of Tina Leopard has gone viral). There’s even a local friend of Valeria’s by the name of Anastasiya Shpagina, whose appearance is borderline macabre—she looks like she walked straight off the animated series Sailor Moon. “Indeed, I’ve noticed a trend,” Valeria says of the beauty phenomenon. “Every good-looking woman with fine features and a slim figure looks like a doll. I won’t deny that I play along with people’s perceptions. I’m amused by the reactions. I don’t take it seriously.”

V sat down with a translator to ask the self-described “most famous woman of the Russian-speaking Internet” to settle some of the speculation and show us her serious side.

What is a typical day in the life of Valeria?
VALERIA LUKYANOVA In the morning I work on my face and I get a massage, then I spend some time on the Internet. I meditate and travel in my astral body, and after that I work out at the gym. I go for a walk with my best girlfriend, I get home, and I make dinner for the man I love. Then I spend some more time on the Internet, do some reading and meditating, and go to bed. 

Do you primarily consider yourself a singer, a model, or an artist?
VL These are just different labels for my creative potential, but they don’t describe my true essence. I’m a teacher at the School of Out-of-Body Travel. It’s an international school in which our instructors show students how to leave their physical body and travel in their spiritual body, where you can visit any place on the planet and in the universe. I know that this is the future of mankind and that it has huge potential. Hidden reserves will be tapped soon. 

Were you always interested in the metaphysical? Did you study it from a young age?
VL The questions of what we are and why we exist have interested me from my earliest childhood. Thanks to a large library of esoteric books collected by my mother, I was able to learn a lot. 

How does your music fit into your “true essence”?
VL I have written most of my songs during my astral travels or during meditation. This is also how I collaborate with other composers of new age music. They inspire me. My genre is new age opera. Sometimes I can write a piece in one breath, in as little as five minutes. I very much like singers like Emma Shapplin and Sarah Brightman. I also love bands such as Enigma, Era, Deep Forest, Ametistium, and Alexander Mogilko.

How do you feel about your Internet popularity stemming mostly from your physical appearance?
VL I believe that because of it I have a responsibility to bring more good, light, and positive emotions to people. I want to share my art and my music and tell people about my spiritual ideas. When you feel happy, you want to tell everyone about it so that others become happier too. 

Are you surprised by some of the negative reactions you have received?
VL No. I know the other side of celebrity is negativity, but I see it in a positive light. If people care about me, then I am on the right path. In real life, I never hear bad things. 

What inspires your sense of fashion?
VL Everything derives from my spiritual practices. My mood is created by meditation and energy techniques. It makes me want to see everything as beautiful and bright, refined and original. I’m an idealist and a perfectionist, and I want my looks to reflect the world within me and how I feel. My close friend Dominika is a fashion designer, and she helps me create the kind of clothing that is consistent with my spiritual practice. Dominika draws the designs we create. 

What goes into your beauty routine?
VL Most of my makeup I design myself as I put it on. I’m an artistic person, and I love dramatic images and bright makeup. I love the process of doing my own. 

What do you make of all the women popping up online who are getting attention by presenting a look similar to yours? Would you consider this aesthetic some type of beauty movement?
VL People don’t understand that it has nothing to do with looks. There are many good-looking young women, but why are they completely unknown? Because looks are just a bonus. If you spend time working only on your appearance and you forget about your inner self, people will not be interested in you because they will not feel anything. Many people think you need only good looks to be successful, but it’s not true—only spiritual work can bear tangible results. 

Incalculable comments on the Internet accuse you of being artificial in some way, either through computer technology or surgical procedures. Is there any truth to this?
VL Many people say bad things about people who want to perfect themselves. It’s hard work, but they dismiss it as something done by surgeons or computer artists. This is how they justify not wanting to strive for self-improvement. It’s how they explain their continued inaction. It’s just an excuse. There are plenty of video clips on the Internet showing what I really look like. Some people even spread rumors about me and retouch my pictures to hurt me. But I don’t take them seriously. I’m even flattered! It’s what success is like. I’m happy I seem unreal to them, it means I’m doing a good job. 

What would people be surprised to know about the real Valeria?
VL I’m a professional mountain climber. I trek up the Himalayas and live far away from civilization for weeks at a time. I have traveled all over, and I love extreme recreation and adrenaline. I’m not afraid of anything, and I love taking risks. I love the unknown. I observe the flow of energy and bring its vibrations into my work. In my view, you can say it with music better than with words.

EXTRA CREDITS

makeup lena koro for nars cosmetics (tracey mattingly agency)  hair greg bitterman for oribe hair care (ray brown pro)  Manicure Marisa Carmichael  Tailor Melissa Canella (Lars Nord Studio)  Light design Chris Bisagni  Digital technician Benedict Brink  Stylist assistants Kate Grella and Alban Roger  Makeup assistant Marco Castro  Hair assistant Tiffany Damiani for Anthony Leonard Salon  Production Helena Martel and Spencer Morgan Taylor  Production assistant Alberto Maria Colombo  Location The Standard Hotel, High Line  Location equipment ROOT [EQ]  Video Martin Landgreve  Retouching Xi Chen  Special thanks Daniela Maerky

MORE TO LOVE

THE CHRONICLES OF ZAHIA THE INTROVERT WIGGLE ROOM THE X GAMES
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