Halter-top two-piece bikini, Prada ($435). Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave.; prada.com. Skirt, Domenico Vacca ($1,900). Bal Harbour Shops, see above; domenicovacca.com. Two-headedbird bracelets, Lanvin ($1,410 each). Bal Harbour Shops, see above; lanvin.com. Parentesi cocktail ring, Bulgari ($8,850). Bal Harbour Shops, see above; bulgari.com. Cutout platform boots, Gucci ($1,550). Bal Harbour Shops, see above; gucci.com. BELOW, RIGHT: Kia bathing suit, Diane von Furstenberg ($220). Village of Merrick Park, 358 San Lorenzo Ave., Coral Gables; dvf.com. Shiny hematite metal tube necklace ($98) and bracelet ($88), Kenneth Cole. 190 Eighth St., Miami Beach; kennethcole.com. Fleur di Lis ring,Scott Kay ($395). Montica Jewelry, 75 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables; montica.com
ew people feel their most comfortable walking around in three swatches of fabric that total maybe 10 square inches—but Irina Shayk is one of that rare breed.
At least, this is what I think while observing the 24-year-old on the set of this month’s cover shoot: The Russian-born beauty is something of a bikini ninja, knowing instinctively from its lines how a suit should look on camera. California-based label Beach Bunny Swimwear must have thought the same thing, having sought Shayk out not only as a face of its ad campaign, but also to design a range of pieces. “I knew their suits, as I’d been shooting in them for Sports Illustrated,” Shayk notes (she appeared in the last four SI Swimsuit Issues). “Because of my job I’ve had an opportunity to wear thousands of swimsuits, and I was happy to try designing practical and beautiful suits that can be worn by any woman who wants to feel sexy and confident.” She mentions those elements important to her aesthetic—that the suit look great both dry and wet, that a snakeskin strap is a versatile detail that can be tied different ways on one favorite bikini—and you immediately grasp that Shayk indeed has put a lot of thought into one of fashion’s most challenging questions: How do you invent a new bikini?
It’s a talent all the more enviable when you consider that Shayk’s upbringing was about as far from a beach as one can get. She was raised in a small town called Yemanzhelinsk, located in the Ural Mountains of western Russia “The town is so small that, for me, thinking of becoming a model was something like becoming a cosmonaut—absolutely unreal,” she says. “I grew up loving literature and thought I would become a teacher; I loved reading and making up stories.”
But scouted Shayk was, during a chance meeting with a modeling agent in 2004; by 2005 she was in Paris, and two years later she was appearing in campaigns for Armani Exchange and Guess and gracing the pages of Sports Illustrated. “For me shooting for SI is like being with my family,” she says. “And every time it’s an amazing location: [This year] we shot in the Atacama Desert in Chile. It’s about 3,000 meters above sea level, and it’s the driest desert in the world, composed mainly of salt basins, sand and lava flows. It felt like being on another planet, looking more like Mars than Earth.”
The extensive travel required of Shayk indeed tops the list of reasons she genuinely loves her job; not surprisingly, a favorite stop is Miami. “Last year I spent a lot of time in Miami and fell in love with the lifestyle, the people, the weather,” she reports. “Since it’s only a two-hour flight, it’s great to know I can come for a weekend. Right now my dog is living in Miami, (clarification TK) so I’m in town all the time. I love the W, especially Soleá, and also Toni’s Sushi Bar—that’s probably my favorite. Right now I think I’d miss New York too much, but moving to Miami? It’s possible.”
And with that, Shayk turns back to work—another bikini, another perfect fit for the girl who seems born for the beach.
Lace-up bikini bottom, Loeffler Randall($125). Barneys Co-Op, 832 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; barneys.com. New York City Skyline necklace, Rodrigo Otazu ($976). otazujewelry.com. Pavé diamond rings,Scott Kay ($4,325 each). Montica Jewelry, 75 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables; montica.com. Mystère wedges, Christian Dior ($1,190). Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave.; christiandior.com