If you’ve been following the street style phenomenon since its inception in the mid-2000s, then Miroslava Duma has been a household name to you for quite some time.
Right when street style photography pioneers like Tommy Ton and Scott Schuman were starting out, one of their most popular subjects was the petite Russian editor who — often compared to a Russian doll on account of her five-foot stature — more often than not wore head-to-toe looks from the world’s most exclusive (and expensive) designers, including Hermes, Chanel, Marni and Valentino. Before bloggers like BryanBoy and The Man Repeller came on the scene and were accused of “peacocking” for the street style photographers, there was Duma, whose looks far outshone — and most likely out-priced — the competition, which grew steadily season by season.
While her position as an editor at Russian Harper’s Bazaar granted her access to Fashion Week shows in all four cities, it was very evident from the start that Duma came from wealth — her father is a Russian senator and her husband a successful entrepreneur — which afforded her the opportunity to buy such high-end pieces each season. But, as you know, money can’t buy you style, and it’s the way she put together each look so thoughtfully and her attention to detail that not only attracted the photographers, but also the young men and women seeing photos of her online, wishing they could buy whatever she happened to be wearing.
Duma’s transition into the world of modeling started organically enough: Tommy Ton, who’d been shooting her on the street for years, photographed an ad campaign for Dubai-based luxury retailer Symphony, which cast Duma as the model. Because her appearance in other magazines became a conflict of interest, Duma left her job as an editor to go freelance, opening doors for future endeavors (she started a website called Buro 24/7) and, of course, modeling gigs.
In the past few seasons, Duma has appeared in campaigns for Ferragamo and Russian department store TSUM, and most recently, she was chosen as the face of Oscar de la Renta for The Outnet, as well as Roger Vivier’s Spring 2014 collection.
While Duma’s doll-like features and impressive styling skills make her a natural choice for brands who are looking to up their industry cred, the fact that she’s an editor at heart — and that she’s nearly a whole foot shorter than the average model — seems like it could have presented some issues. However, the teams at both TheOutnet.com and Roger Vivier assure us that was not the case.
“First and foremost, she far exceeds a model,” Shira Suveyke, VP of global buying at TheOutnet.com, tells us. ”When we looked at working with her, we thought about the face she would represent: an entrepreneur in the digital and global space. The Outnet is a global business and we wanted a brand ambassador with global resonance.”
While Duma is often in front of the camera during Fashion Month, her career is based on her being behind the camera, directing and editing shoots. As it turns out, this skill set was beneficial during her modeling gigs. “The way Mira used her creative and editorial voice was exciting,” Suveyke says. “She really helped to shape the campaign and added influence, like how to shoot the product on her body.”
Working as a model with a full creative team — when she was used to being on the other side, giving all the criticism and direction — didn’t pose a problem either, according to TheOutnet.com. “Duma has a strong creative point of view delivered in a professional way. Everyone found her to be delightful, funny, charming — she has an easygoing way about her,” Suveyke says.
As a petite model, it was necessary to have tailors on set to make sure the samples fit her proportions, but thanks to years of self-styling, Duma was a huge help in the process. “She knows her angles, she knows what looks good on her and what she wants to have shown and what she doesn’t — it’s very helpful for me as the photographer,” says Olivia Bee, who photographed Duma’s Roger Vivier campaign. “She gave some direction for sure; she knows herself well.”
With two campaigns in the same season and a resume that’s growing way beyond that of simply a street style star — in addition to starting her site Buro, she was recently named digital media director at TSUM — Duma is becoming known as much for her work ethic as for the unique ways she wears her clothes.
Duma could not be reached for comment about whether she plans to continue on the road towards a full-fledged modeling career, but her spot on the board at NEXT Models in Paris indicates that this might be so.
While we see the whole “street style star turned model” phenomenon expanding in the coming years — because, let’s face it, they are really good at selling clothes — with her rare ability to navigate different areas of the industry, we believe Duma’s popularity will be more than a passing trend.