Thin isn’t in for Anne Vyalitsyna, better known for her dramatic catwalk name, Anne V. The Russian stunner, 27, prefers to tone up and look healthy for her photo shoots. And it’s working: Anne has appeared in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue for the past 10 years in a row. And she’s ready to party like it’s 1964, the first year of the sexy edition. We talked to her from NYC before her trip to South Florida, when she can’t wait to escape the cold and get back into a bathing suit for various events around town.
How do you like coming to Miami?
Oh, man. You have no idea how jealous we are of you guys. It’s absolutely freezing. It’s miserable. So windy, too. Please save some sunshine for us!
Regardless of the slush and snow, Fashion Week must have been fun.
Oh yeah, it was. I hadn’t done runway shows in a while, and it’s nice to mix it up. I got to walk for Alexander Wang. It was super-high fashion: the bleached eyebrows, heat-activated clothing. I also worked for Zac Posen, who has these super-tight dresses and beautiful gowns. They’re both dear friends of mine.
Can you talk about how you got involved with Sports Illustrated?
I’m from Russia, so had never seen the magazine before. I remember I went to a friend’s house and saw the issue. I was like 15 and wanted to find out more. I learned that launched the careers of Elle Macpherson and Tyra Banks and Christie Brinkley and Heidi Klum and really wanted to be a part of it. When I finally got the opportunity, it was a dream come true. These women are powerhouses; not just models, but they’re successful businesswomen and mothers and philanthropists.
What was it like getting your first SI assignment?
Well, I was 18 and still kind of a kid. I started as a high-fashion model, and you have to be really thin to do the shows. And with Sports Illustrated, it’s not about the clothes. They really kind of made me learn how to be strong and sexy. You had to learn to accept yourself and be confident in your body at any size or form. It put me on the map in the American market.
How do you prepare before the shoot?
It’s funny — they tell you to eat a little bit more. In a way it’s awesome. We get a chance to really treat ourselves. I always work out, not to lose weight. I just want to be strong, athletic and powerful. I’ve done sports my whole life. My trainer uses bands, we do stability work and stuff with weights to make you really lean. I also mix in Pilates, yoga, running, Zumba and Soul Cycle. If I don’t, I get bored, and your body gets used to the same thing.
What is a typical day like for you, eating-wise?
Really, you have to watch what you put in your body. You have to eat less and super-clean. In the morning, I usually have an egg white omelet with a little avocado, then some salad, fish and vegetables [later in the day]. You need fuel because otherwise you’re not gonna last.
So you will be seen as a model coach along with Lydia Hearst on Oxygen’s The Face this season. Talk about that.
The energy is different. Lydia and I are very strong women and big competitors. We want our girls to win. We respect each other, and we’re friends, but when the time comes, well, there are no friends in competitions. We would die for our girls; they’ve become like our kids. Shooting was one of those experiences where I didn’t know what I was signing up for. I had never done TV before and couldn’t find anything beside modeling that I really loved. The hours were insane; we barely slept. It was an intense process, but important. I wish I had had a mentor when I was starting. Sometimes you need someone to rely on, and there was no better feeling than to feel needed.