Culture Icon – Daria

FASHION Magazine

Shocked. Proud. Ambivalent. That’s how Daria Werbowy describes her reaction to learning that she will be the second model, after Linda Evangelista, to be inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame.

“My first reaction was like: Why? What for?” she says, kicking back on the couch in a bright and airy NYC photo studio after FASHION’s cover shoot. “I was really, really surprised.” And how does she feel now? “Part of me feels like I don’t deserve it. But part of me feels really proud that the time and effort I’ve put into modelling is being recognized. I’ve been really touched by that.” The news also stirred up Werbowy’s ambivalence about the nature of her job. “I’ve had a lot of mixed feelings about what I do,” she confesses. “A lot of the time, I feel like I’m part of the problem when it comes to all the superficiality and vanity that impacts the way girls grow up.” But ultimately, the induction has strengthened her desire to use her success to effect positive change. “Being honoured for what I do has given me the confidence to continue to do other things,” she says.

One of those “other things” is the recently launched Brazilian Earth Colours by Daria Werbowy makeup collection that she created for Lancôme. A portion of profits goes to Centro Espacial V ik Muniz in Rio de Janeiro, a non-profit arts centre run by Brazilian artist Muniz, which focuses on at-risk youth. “It helps kids enrol in a regular high school, and when they do, they can enter an arts program and learn how to dance, sing, paint or do the trapeze,” she explains. “It gives them a chance to explore their creative minds.” Werbowy was introduced to the centre when she was working in the city. “I went there to see a show that the kids put on, and afterwards I immediately contacted Lancôme and told them that this is exactly what I want to be involved with,” she recalls. The creative aspect of the program is important to Werbowy. “I didn’t want to put my name on something that I didn’t feel personally attached to,” she says. “I went to an art school for four years in Canada, and I feel like it’s very important for everyone to have a creative outlet.”

Art wasn’t the only thing that shaped her formative years. “Living in Canada really gave me my appreciation for nature,” she says. And it’s still the place where Werbowy feels most at home. “Although I don’t think I feel really at home anywhere. I’m a Ukrainian who was born in Poland and raised in Canada and now lives in New York. I have nostalgia for all those places. But Canada is where I was raised.”

This shoot (which was in early summer) was Werbowy’s last assignment before embarking on a grand adventure. For the next three months, she will sail across the Atlantic and around the Mediterranean with her family. T o some people, being isolated with your next of kin on a little boat in the middle of the ocean may seem like the premise for a horror movie, but Werbowy is excited at the prospect. “This trip has been my dad’s lifelong dream,” she says, beaming. “It’s a beautiful experience and an amazing opportunity for us to be able to do something like this.” Werbowy is scheduled to return a few days before the Walk of Fame ceremony in Toronto on September 6. “Hopefully, I’ll make it on time,” she laughs. “Otherwise, I’ll have to hire a body double!”