What better place to cut your modeling teeththan on the Gucci runway circa-Tom Ford? That’s exactly where Estonia-born model Tiiu Kuik got her start in 2002, walking in Gucci’s Spring show. And no sooner than she could change out of her kimono, (you may recall Ford’s sultry-bedhead-kimono phase?), Kuik was being shot by the likes of Patrick Demarchelier and Steven Meisel for Vogue, and became the face of CoverGirl in 2005.
We caught up with Kuik on the set of her Bal Harbour Holiday 2010 shoot to discuss shopping for skincare in Whole Foods, staying fit and what’s on her Fall fashion wish list.—Tali Jaffe
BHS Magazine: Tell us a little about your photo shoot.
Tiiu Kuik: I really liked referencing [Mexican actress] Maria Felix. It was fun getting to portray somebody else, and apparently she liked the same kind of fun jewelry that I do—and lots of it!!!! I am still drooling over that panther ring from Cartier.
You must travel a lot for work. Does one location standout as your favorite?
There have been many great locations, but I really enjoyed South Africa, because we were able to go on safaris each day the whole week we were shooting there.
Is there a photographer you especially enjoy working with? Is there one you'd love to get in front of?
I've been so lucky to work with the best photographers in the world! I don't want to name any names, but the best photographers are simply the ones that trust their team and their models and don't over-direct. It’s never nice to feel like a plastic mannequin.
In 2005 you were named the face of CoverGirl. What was that experience like for you? Who was the first person you told?
It was an incredible experience. I learned so much from them, and the CoverGirl jobs will always remain as some of my favorite days of work ever. There's nothing better than to have a job where they tell you to be yourself and have fun. The first person I told was my friend Michelle because I knew that as an American, she would really understand the hugeness of getting CoverGirl and how happy I was.
Can you tell us about the charity work you're involved in?
I'm involved with Models Care, Children International, Greenpeace, HRC and ASPCA. I’m also working on developing my own skincare line with my friend, makeup artist Munemi Imai, where the proceeds will go towards providing clean drinking water to people in need.
Have you ever thought about collaborating on a fashion collection, or designing your own line of clothes?
I haven't thought of designing clothes. I have made my own before, but coming up with a whole line is a whole other matter!
What do you do to stay in shape?
I never diet because I believe it is not good for your metabolism. Exercise is definitely the key to staying in shape. I try to make it fun by going to different classes, like yoga, dance, swimming and self defense. It keeps things from getting boring, and you also find new muscles that you didn't even know you have! And in the summer time I just walk a lot and bike everywhere.
When you're not working, how do you like to spend your time?
I try to make every day memorable by trying something new. It can be anything from a place I haven't been to, an adventure, to a new book, or a movie. I love being around my friends. And it’s always a challenge to see everybody with all of the working and traveling I do.
Do you have a favorite shopping spot in New York?
I like variety so I don't have one favorite store. New York just got All Saints though, so I've been going there a bunch lately. Of course I love TopShop and a lot of British brands in general. Big, mixed-brand stores like Macys are great! I also spend a lot of time in the skin care aisles at Whole Foods and I love Barnes and Noble.
What do you most miss about your home in Estonia?
The food!!!!!! Nothing beats the food you grew up with. And of course I miss my mom and my friends.
Is there one look for fall you can't wait to rock out?
I usually prefer shopping for the colorful floaty summer fashions, instead of the heavy dark winter stuff. But this year I am already itching to buy the leather and shearling 3.1 Phillip Lim jacket.