ROMANIAN-BORN BEAUTY CATRINEL MARLON IS A NATURAL ATHLETE WITH THE STAMINA FOR SUCCESS. FROM ITALIAN ART-HOUSE FILMS TO ARMANI CAMPAIGNS, SHE IS RUNNING AWAY FROM THE COMPETITION
Growing up in rural Romania, 27-year-old model Catrinel Marlon always assumed she would follow in the footsteps of her family. Her parents were both professional athletes (mom was a Nadia Comaneci–trained gymnast, while dad was a national track-and-field star with a knack for 400-meter hurdles), and she began training in gymnastics and sprinting at a young age. “I started when I was four, and for years it was my life,” recalls Marlon. Everything changed when she was spotted on the streets of her hometown, Iasi, in 2001, in a chance encounter that led to work in Greece, New York, and Milan. “When I was sent to New York, my agent told me not to be afraid—that New York is really hard, that girls get stuck for months and don’t get a single job,” says the model. “But on my first day of castings—I had six—I booked every job and worked for those clients for a month straight. I started to discover another world.”
Those first bookings brought more jobs, a collection of which soon developed into a rather intimidating career including stints as the face of Armani, the spokesperson for Fiat, and in a move that attracted more than a few male followers, several appearances in Sports Illustrated’s famed swimsuit issue.
Now, more than 12 years later, Marlon is modeling for the likes of David Yurman (shot by Sebastian Faena) and quietly expanding her performance repertoire with a stealth move toward cinema. “A year ago I was having a really hard time and was on the verge of quitting the business,” she says. “Then a friend convinced me to try out for a part in a short Italian film.” She got it and was hooked, going on to play a series of roles that she describes as “always dramatic, and very surreal,” including Italian art-house films like La città ideale.
When it comes to commanding the stage, it’s clear that Marlon is a natural. This image was taken by brand and advertising guru David Lipman, who is clearly enchanted by her subtle charms. “Cat and I went away for 12 days this past September,” he says. “We were pushing ourselves as an art endeavor. This picture, taken in Romania, represents deep meaning for both of us. I asked Cat to go deep inside herself and find the emotional pain and suffering she was feeling at that moment.”
With her endless opportunities, Marlon is ready for what lies ahead, whatever it may be. “I’m going to try to do both—act and model—until the day when I want to give up,” she says. “Then I’ll pick an island, go there, and open a bar on the beach. What more could you want from life?”