Malgosia Bela, Model

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"I started modeling when I was 21—I was a late bloomer. I was studying classical music in Poland, where I’m from, and in the States, and modeling was the last thing I could have ever imagined doing. But I’m glad I started late, because it was at the point where you either make it or you don’t. You already look like you will look—it’s not like a 14-year-old who will develop into someone else. And I got picked to work with Jil Sander, who used to take in a lot of new faces... I’m 36 now, and I guess I’ve maintained relevancy because my look is classic, but not too pretty. I can do a campaign for H&M or Alexander Wang, and I can do weird stuff with Steven Klein or more commercial work. I think success in modeling comes down to your look, luck, hard work, how professional you are, and, let’s face it, how well you manage the business side of things.

I’m back in Paris now—where I’ve lived with my nine-year-old son for three years—but I just came back from getting married [in Italy]! The wedding was on a little island off the coast of Positano that had belonged to the ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev. It was like a dream fairytale—super intimate, only 80 people. And, actually, Azzedine Alaïa fitted my vintage Alaïa wedding dress. I bought it online through 1stdibs, from Rare Vintage in New York. It arrived in such a tiny box, because the fabric was so fine, and needed some fixing. Azzedine did it three days before the wedding. It was so nice of him.

For my hair and makeup on my wedding day, I didn’t really want too much. My hair was kind of hippie-ish—messy and natural. I didn’t wear a lot of eye makeup because I knew I would be crying, and I didn’t want anything on my lips because we were kissing like crazy. My skin was still nice and tan from the summer, so we just used a little taupe on my face to match my deep-set eyes. I put black eyeliner on my top waterline—it doesn’t look good on me on the bottom lid—and I didn’t use mascara. I like to pretend I have eyebrows with Chanel Sculpting Eyebrow Pencil in Blond.

On a day-to-day basis, if I ever wear makeup, I just use something brown for my eye, like Bobbi Brown Eyeshadow in Wheat, which is a gray-ish beige. And I also have a Chanel Le Crayon Yeux in Brun. Generally, I don’t wear mascara because if I’m wearing makeup, that usually means I’ll be out late, and I hate taking mascara off when I get back. I’m just lazy. [Laughs] It’s horrible, but it’s true. I like a little something on my cheeks, too. When I started modeling, it was the age of Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream, and I still use it. Otherwise, I don’t feel like myself. The one thing I don’t ever really wear is lipstick, because you have to pay too much attention to how you eat and drink when you wear it.

I try to always brush my teeth and wash my face every night before I go to sleep. I’m quite disciplined about it. The only toothpaste I use is Arm & Hammer Extreme Whitening Toothpaste—it has the best scent. And to take my makeup off, I use La Roche-Posay Respectissime or Bioderma Créaline. I like makeup removers that aren’t greasy. So far I’ve been very lucky with my skin, but I’m getting to the age where I need to start paying more attention to moisturizing. My skin can get dry, so I use Eucerin DermoDensifyer Day Cream and La Mer The Eye Concentrate. The eye cream smells just like cucumber—it’s refreshing. And I really like Joelle Ciocco Cerat Aux FleursIt’s a milky, yellow oil, almost like a moisturizer, that I use for toner.

I think your skin is a result of your lifestyle. For me, I eat well, don’t drink too much, and don’t smoke, so that’s already a big advantage. When you don’t take care of yourself from the inside, you have to make up for it with products. I’m not too strict, though: I drink a little bit... I think people should enjoy life. Stress is one of the worst enemies of beauty. When you are relaxed, it shows. Right now I’m very happy and Zen, so I don’t feel like I need to wear much. I also don’t do 20 fashion shows in a week, because that just kills you.

When I got pregnant, I started treating my hair better, too. I cut it really short and stopped coloring it. Now I haven’t dyed my hair in 10 years. I think that’s the key. I don’t really have to do much with it now, because I like to have clean, baby hair. I wash it every day out of habit. I know it’s not good for your hair, but it wakes me up. I take a total of five minutes in the shower and use Klorane Chamomile Shampoo, which is good for keeping it blond. I also use David Mallett L'Hydratation Shampoo and Conditioner, and sometimes the Kiehl's Amino Acid Shampoo, since I like the coconut smell. But I don’t do anything to 'style' it, really. I love life—I don’t want to spend two hours getting ready in the bathroom every day. There are so many other things I would rather be doing. If I want a little volume, I'll maybe spray in Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray. But it’s not too good for my hair because it dries it out. When I have split ends, I put a little Moroccan Oil on the bottoms, which weighs my hair down, but it smells nice. I also love the smell of Frédéric Malle Bigarade Concentree—that’s my fragrance.

I wish I could say I worked out a lot, but I don’t really. I believe in an active life. I swam every day this summer, I walk a lot, and I ski in the winter. There was a time in my life where I was working out and going to the gym, but not anymore. I like to have energy, though—I’m not a couch potato. Skiing and swimming are great exercise, if you can fit them in. But, then again, talk to me in two months when I’m not in good shape. [Laughs]

The older I get, the more I feel like myself. It’s like I don’t have to pretend anymore. I have a child and a family, and every year I become more comfortable with my own face, body, and character. I think that actually shows on your face. Even people who are very beautiful, but are jealous and mean, have this kind of grimace on their face all of the time, or they will say something ugly and the charm is gone. Now that I’m happy in life and in love—I’ve never been happier—there’s a kind of serenity that people respond to. There has to be some kind of bone structure change or something. [Laughs] But happiness really makes everyone look their best."

—as told to ITG

Malgosia Bela photographed by Emily Weiss in Paris on October 1, 2013.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • parul

    Nice post and apt title...The model looks very down to earth in person and happiness really makes everyone look their best. Totally agreed...

  • sarah beth

    Malgosia sounds like a really relaxed, chilled out person and it's refreshing to read a post like that xx

  • Emily Doyle

    This is my favorite ITG post yet - Malgosia is beautiful inside and out.... Thanks Emily and team!

  • SK12

    Does anyone know where her black loafters are from!?

    • ITGElizabeth

      Hi SK12,

      I believe she's wearing these loafers from Robert Clergerie: http://into.gl/1fFAYQ2

      Enjoy!
      xE

  • rachelle pulkkila

    love how real this is.

  • Ivy

    Great post, everything she said speaks to me. I like her keeping natural in the wedding, eating well, taking care of your body...that's the way I want to grow up in my 30s!

    http://www.mykindofchic.com

  • Vicki

    I love when she talks about feeling more like yourself as you get older. I never believed this but as I go on in my thirties I realize its true, you just worry less about other people and what they think and you get to know yourself better!

    • Sarita

      This is so true! I just added another year to my 30s last Friday, and I do feel so much more comfortable in my own skin than I did when I was in my mid-20s. It's way too time consuming and stressful worrying about what others think of you when what's most important is knowing yourself.

      • Vicki

        I completely agree my friend :)

      • Nicole B.

        I definitely am looking forward to experiencing this shift in attitude as I continue to get older :)

  • njanisch

    so excited about this top shelf!

  • softy

    what's up with the wise ending paragraphs lately? (love it doe.)

  • Alyssa

    This was super lovely! I adore her hair.. I've been noticing more and more that not color-treating your hair seems, unfortunately, to be the only way to get that kind of shiny-goodness. Sigh...

  • Poulette

    Malgosia is absolutely one of my favourite models - yes, because we are both Polish (lots of pride there!) but also because she is the antithesis of cookie cutter/baby beauty but still so beautiful in a strong, handsome way - I am always so pleased when she is featured in campaigns or editorials for this. Reading this interview makes me want to go for a glass of wine & a chat. Thanks ITG!

    • Kasia

      I went to the same high school as Malgosia. It's a pity she's a couple of years older, otherwise I might have got to know her. She's indeed a strong and intelligent woman, and getting better with age!

  • http://www.ofstrangersensibilities.com/ Joy of Stranger Sensibilities

    Can't believe she's 36. F YEAH!

  • Nina

    I love everything about her - her natural look, her perfect casual outfit, her approach to life as a model and beauty. She was in the LILY by Stella McCartney perfume campaign, right? I basically got that perfume because of how stunning she was in it, ha ha. She seems like a wonderful person.

  • Katherine Clow

    I like her emphasis on eating well and doing things that are good for you which then shows in your beauty. It's so true, and one of the keys to a happy life!

    http://classicinchicago.blogspot.com

  • http://taliashulze.com/ Talia Shulze

    Holy cow she's the best. I love her attitude for life and beauty; eat well, stay active, enjoy yourself, and get your wedding dress hand tailored by a totally important designer :)

  • http://www.diamenrose.tumblr.com/ Diamenrose

    What for an amazing post! This is what I love aboout this website it shows soo many women who have something inspirational and encouraging.

  • katherine

    Wow, so beautiful inside and out. By far one of my favorite posts!

  • Lana

    I hope to be as happy as she is as the years of my life progress. That is such a beautiful thing she said. She seems at peace- a characteristic that very few of us can say we have in our lives

  • Michelle

    I'm pretty sure it is a Chanel eyebrow palette. I have the same one and am obsessed with it! :)

  • Tovah

    Malgosia seems like a wonderful person with her priorities straight. However, the reason she is able to go practically bare faced is because her facial is perfect. I mean...great lips, great eyes...great cheekbones. Yep! Pretty jealous here! lol.

  • Sabrina Rice

    She's as amazing as I've always hoped she is! Beautiful woman

  • Bella

    A strong, healthy, beautiful woman: great message!

  • stephani

    Ahh love this woman - and this ITG post inspired me - wrote piece about aging gracefully. thank you!

  • samantha

    great write up!

    http://www.nopabeauty.com

  • Celleste

    Loving this Top Shelf :D

  • http://www.wholinks2you.net/ Abhay Singh

    nice pose...

  • The Fashion Informer

    LOVE her! Even did a piece about my Malgosia obsession on TFI. http://bit.ly/1ePpiXK

PRODUCTS MENTIONED

CHANEL
Chanel Sourcils Sculpting Eyebrow Pencil
Bobbi Brown
Bobbi Brown Eyeshadow in Wheat
CHANEL
Chanel Le Crayon Yeux in Brun
Elizabeth Arden
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream
Arm & Hammer
Arm & Hammer Extreme Whitening Toothpaste
La Roche-Posay
La Roche-Posay Respectissime Waterproof Eye-Makeup Remover
Cosme-De.com
Bioderma Créaline
Eucerin
Eucerin Dermodensifyer Day Moisturizer
La Mer
La Mer The Eye Concentrate
Joelle Ciocco
Joelle Ciocco Cerat Aux Fleurs
Klorane
Klorane Golden Highlights Shampoo with Chamomile Extract
David Mallett
David Mallett Hydrating Shampoo
David Mallett
David Mallett Hydrating Conditioner
Kiehl's Since 1851
Kiehl's Since 1851 Amino Acid Shampoo
Bumble and bumble
Bumble and bumble Surf Spray
Cosme-De.com
Moroccan Oil Treatment for Hair
Frederic Malle
Frédéric Malle Bigarade Concentrée
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