Olena Churbanova: Model, traveler, student

Worldly is the best word to describe Olena Churbanova, a high-fashion model from Ukraine. She’s only been in the industry for a year but has already modeled for Jimmy Choo, Vogue Arabia, and Dolce&Gabbana. She’s under contract with New Age Models, based in Warsaw, Poland, which is where she lives and attends university.

Though she’s thousands of miles away and immersed in the European fashion industry, she has ties to the 417. Her junior year of high school was spent as a foreign exchange student at Carthage High School, just 60 miles away from Springfield.

While in America, Churbanova was a part of Student Council, Track & Field and Show Choir at Carthage High School.

“My favorite thing about America is probably food. I miss Chinese food so much, I have never tried anything nearly as good after I came back from the US,” said Churbanova.

Coincidentally, Churbanova is majoring in American Studies at the University of Warsaw.

"I study everything about the USA, like politics, economics, literature, history, art,” Churbanova said. “This kind of degree can get me a job in an embassy or some international organization working closely with the US.”

She said her university life in Warsaw offers many different opportunities she wouldn’t have otherwise in her home country of Ukraine.

“For example, educational opportunities, being around international students, amazing library and university campus, renting an apartment and living an adult life,” said Churbanova.

Between all these aspects of life, Churbanova has had to strike a balance between working as a model and prioritizing academics.

“I started modeling at the end of my first year when it was almost summer break so it wasn’t that bad, but right now it’s extremely hard,” Churbanova said. “The attendance policy is very harsh so sometimes I just have to say no to modeling opportunities.”

Despite the difficulty of balancing modeling and schoolwork, Churbanova wants to pursue modeling for as long as possible.

Churbanova would love to model for FENDI or Versace because, in her words, she’s “obsessed with their styles.”

“I really love more of a classical style which my mom has brought into my life since my childhood,” she said.

Though she might have had to turn down some modeling jobs, she still has an undoubtedly impressive resume, doing both print and runway work.

Churbanova has modeled for Jimmy Choo, Vogue Arabia, Daizy Shely at Milan Fashion Week, Rowen Rose, Nemozena, Alcantara by Andrea Incontri, and Dolce & Gabbana Day & Night Dubai Show.

She said that going to Dubai and taking part in the Dolce&Gabbana show is her favorite memory from modeling.

“That seemed so unreal,” Churbanova said. “I felt very blessed to work with such legends.”

For Churbanova, modeling has led her to meet a variety of people.

“I have made so many friends and met so many talented people,” Churbanova said. “Makeup artists, clients, photographers, assistants, models, casting directors --- all of them are so talented and inspiring in everything they do.”

Besides meeting and collaborating with other artists, traveling is an aspect of modeling that Churbanova loves.

“Models get booked to different locations and traveling is pretty much part of our job,” she said. “Being able to see different countries and visiting so many incredible places has been mind-blowing.”

Churbanova says that the most stressful aspect of modeling is the pressure of the industry.

“Constant pressure is put on me and I am always being judged by clients or designers, which is an absolutely normal thing in the fashion world, but it takes time to get used to.”

However, this has led her to learn a valuable lesson: never compare yourself to others.

Photos retrieved from Olena’s instagram, @churbanova_olena.