Valentina Zelyaeva is a Russian fashion model. She is most famous for her work with Ralph Lauren, as she signed an exclusive seven-year deal with the clothing company to be the face of the brand.
Valentina Zelyaeva was born on October 11, 1982 in the small town of Ulan-Ude in the former USSR. The child of a Russian military man, she viewed modeling as an unrealistic dream growing up in Moscow. However, after being approached to join a modeling agency at the age of 16 (an offer which she wound up not taking), she realized that the opportunity was actually within her grasp. Two years later, after hearing over the radio of a Elite Model Look contest, she was persuaded by friends to give it a shot. While she didn't end up winning the contest on an international level, being one of the Russian finalists was enough exposure to gain her representation, albeit in Tokyo.
An expected 2-month trip to Japan for Valentina wound up turning into two years, as she was able to find so much work in her new country that she was able to support both herself and her family back home. Alas, it was still not quite what she was looking for in terms of her modeling career, so she decided that her next stop would not be back to Russia, but instead New York City. This would wind up being one of the best decisions she ever made.
Once settled in New York, Valentina realized that there were a number of opportunities for her in the Big Apple. After landing what she considered her big break opening the Ralph Lauren fashion show in 2003, more doors only continued to swing open. Along with signing a seven-year deal with the clothing line as the face of the brand, she has since gone on to work numerous other campaigns for such famous brands as Tommy Hilfiger, Coach and Calvin Klein, molding her into the international supermodel she is today.