"Lenta.ru" continues a series of publications about the famous Russian and Soviet supermodels, who have had not only success, but also misfortunes. The objects of admiration for millions of men, they traveled abroad and bought imported clothing. They walked the catwalk, and their photo shoots were published in Soviet and foreign magazines. However, the question arises: were these relative privileges worth the price paid for them?
This article will focus on Mila Romanovskaya: she successfully endured all the difficulties of Soviet life and unsuccessful marriages, emigrated, moved from country to country and eventually met her “Prince Charming”.
From college to the podium
In the childhood and adolescence of Mila Romanovskaya, there was nothing unusual: "standard parameters" for very many girls born in the late 1930s - early 1940s. Evacuation, difficult half-starved war years, loss of fathers. In Mila's case, the evacuation for her and her mother (the wife of a naval sailor) turned out to be a blessing: the family lived in Leningrad, and if at the very beginning of the war mother and daughter had not evacuated to safe Samara, they would hardly have survived the war.
The future podium star was also lucky that her father did not die at the front.
However, the long separation from his wife ruined his marriage. When the mother and Mila returned from evacuation and the war ended, the family was not reunited: the father left for another woman. Legally, the parents of the future model formalized the divorce only when Mila was already a teenager (in the 1940-1950s it was more difficult in the USSR than it is now), but in fact the girl grew up without a father.
Romanovskaya had to arrange her life herself, not counting on parental, especially fatherly, support. In those years, it was not so easy to enter a university (students paid for higher education), and after school, Mila went to an electromechanical technical school in order to quickly get a specialty and the opportunity to earn a livelihood.
However, like many girls of those times, she dreamed not of a modest existence on a working salary, but of a beautiful, bright and - to be honest - a prosperous life.
Such that it would not be necessary to save up for several months for a pair of shoes, and then humiliatingly "get" them through familiar sellers or from speculators who, moreover, could deceive. Mila was a slender and beautiful young girl, she wanted to dress smartly, sew dresses for herself from good fabric, and not decommissioned parachutes, and be able to flaunt in foreign things.
Becoming an artist was a good way to make yourself a decent life. And Romanovskaya, in her own words in various interviews that she gave already in her mature years, dreamed of entering the Leningrad Conservatory. However, she had neither outstanding artistic abilities, nor, as they said at the time, “blat” to get into this most prestigious educational institution.
The girl could only be helped by her catchy beauty: blond hair (blondes were very fashionable) and a slender figure.
Actually, the figure made Mile's career. Among the friends of the modest student of the technical school was a fashion model. One day the girl got sick, and in order not to disrupt the show in which she needed to participate, she asked Romanovskaya, who had exactly the same figure, to replace her. Mila helped her friend and pulled out her lucky ticket. The organizers of the show appreciated the debutante, who walked the catwalk as if she had been doing this all her life.
Photo: "Fashion Magazine"
Romanovskaya was invited to work at the Leningrad House of Models. After the Moscow and Riga Houses, it was perhaps the most prestigious institution of its kind in the USSR. A few weeks after the employment, the girl's dreams began to come true: she went on her first business trip abroad.Not yet to Paris or Rome, but only to neighboring Finland.
However, it was, as they said at the time, "capitalist country", where one could see life that was fundamentally different from the Soviet one - if not already half-starved, then at least not luxurious.
Between love and career
Romanovskaya never entered the Conservatory. However, Mila could not do without artistry at all: from the age of 18 she met with a young man named Vladimir, who studied at VGIK. It was, obviously, both young love and the desire to get closer to prestigious bohemian circles. In the middle of the century, free romantic relationships were not accepted in the USSR. "Decent girls", if they wanted to lead an intimate life with their beloved, had to marry them. Mila and Volodya got married, and the couple moved to Moscow, where a freshly baked young husband studied.
Romanovskaya tried to get a job at the Moscow House of Models. For a novice fashion model, albeit with experience of traveling abroad, it was not so easy: the competition was simply monstrous. In addition, there was a natural pause in Mila's career: they had a daughter, Anastasia, with Vladimir. The situation in the family was difficult: Romanovskaya's husband was expelled from the university, the child, like all children, created various problems - diapers, teething, childhood illnesses.
Mila had to go through a very difficult time, but she emerged from the trials as a winner: she was hired to work at the Model House.
She had to travel abroad, and all the "outgoing" in the USSR could not pass by the attention of the KGB - especially when it came to the most beautiful women in the country
According to the memoirs of the fashion model, she was several times invited to a conversation by people from the Lubyanka. But she, on the advice of experienced acquaintances and her husband, pretended to be a stupid young woman who did not understand anything, and “cooperation” with the authorities did not work out. So, in any case, the situation was according to the version of Mila herself.
The attention of men to his wife irritated Romanovskaya's husband, and gradually conflicts in the family began to increase. Vladimir did not become a successful person and could not provide his wife with that standard of living, albeit adjusted for Soviet conditions, to which she aspired. The relationship between husband and wife went wrong, and they divorced.
The fashion model completely surrendered to her career. In the House of Models, Romanovskaya immediately rose to the very top of the unspoken model hierarchy and headed it, becoming the second “uncrowned queen” of the Soviet catwalk. The first was her main rival Regina Zbarskaya, a fatal brunette with a catchy southern beauty - either French or Italian. Although the girls had different roles (the blonde Mila personified the characteristic "Russian type"), they still competed.
Competitiveness sometimes escalated into conflict. The climax was the sensational story in Soviet bohemian circles with the dress "Russia", which the most beautiful fashion model of the USSR was supposed to represent at the international exhibition of light industry in Montreal. The creation of the fashion designer Tatyana Osmerkina was an unusual synthesis of Western trends of the 1960s and Russian traditions.
A straight scarlet maxi dress with long wide sleeves on the chest was decorated with a wide, like a necklace, lush and patterned embroidery with beads and bugles to match: either royal barmas, or priestly vestments, or an allusion to an old girl's sundress.
Initially, Zbarskaya was supposed to demonstrate the dress. However, the fashion designer and officials from the House of Models changed their mind, rightly suggesting that a light-eyed blonde with long hair is more likely associated with Russia in Europe and overseas than a burning brunette with a short haircut. The honor to present the dress in Canada went to Romanovskaya.
The model made a splash: she was nicknamed Snegurochka, as the heroine of the famous opera by Rimsky-Korsakov.
A photographer from American Life came to Moscow to conduct a photo session in the Kremlin.Mila in a dress embroidered with scarlet patterns posed in the interiors of the legendary Assumption Cathedral, where all Russian tsars were crowned. Her photographs have appeared on the pages of the most prestigious American weekly. It was the apogee of Romanovskaya's success and, in fact, world fame.
Mila's other attire in a la Russe style, which has bypassed Western publications, is a trapezoidal light-colored mini dress with a lionfish lined with a golden shred and a wide, floor-length, rounded at the bottom strip, embroidered with gold, like a priest's epitrachelion, gave her the nickname Russian Twiggy. Fragile, with slender legs in gold-colored flat boots, she really did look like a 1960s British supermodel.
Escape from the USSR
Mila Romanovskaya has become a world-famous fashion model. At home, she was credited with an affair with one of the most talented Soviet actors - Andrei Mironov. It is not known whether it was true or not, but even if Mila met the idol of romantic girls and inveterate theatergoers, this story did not end in marriage. And the practical Romanovskaya understood that the age of a fashion model is short-lived and that a decent future can only be secured by successfully marrying.
At a banquet in the House of Artists, fate brought the model to the graphic artist Yuri Kuperman. He was not widely known or very rich, but he - as a groom - had an advantage: he was a Jew and could emigrate along the "Jewish line" and take his family with him. Mila and Yuri got married and left the USSR in 1972
Of course, this departure was not an escape in the Baryshnikov style: the artist and his wife and stepdaughter received quite legal permission to emigrate to Israel. Romanovskaya got a job by profession in an Israeli company. However, Kuperman, who shortened his last name to Cooper, was not going to stay in his historical homeland.
After a certain amount of bureaucratic delays (Israel did not encourage further emigration of new immigrants) Mila with her daughter and Yuri managed to move to London, where Romanovskaya participated in Dior and Givenchy shows, and also worked as a typist at the BBC. For some time Cooperman could not get on his feet: he was unlucky in London. The artist decided to try his luck in a more "artistic" Paris, where he settled, opened a workshop and gradually began to earn more and more. But his marriage to Mila did not stand the test of distance. Cooper met another woman and divorced Romanovskaya.
However, the romantic story of the Russian Twiggy ended on a very positive note. After living for some time as a free woman and receiving a certificate as a translator, Romanovskaya flew to Cooper in Paris to complete her divorce proceedings. On the way back, Mila fell under what they say now, "overbooking": there was no place for her in the plane's economy class. The airline transplanted the model into business class, where her seat neighbor turned out to be a wealthy businessman Douglas Edwards. In a short flight to London, he realized that he had been looking for this woman all his life.
Three months after they met, Edwards married Romanovskaya. She finally said goodbye to a modeling career and began to help her husband in running a business.