Cover Story: An Exclusive Interview With Fashion Model 'Melissa Ermishina' Lensed By Aleksandra Sachenko.

by - 20:13:00

Fashion Model Melissa Ermishina is the face of OTS Magazine's May 2024 digital cover issue. The cover was shot by the previously featured photographer and creative director, Aleksandra Sachenko.

Read her insightful interview below...
Exclusive Interview With Fashion Model Melissa Ermishina Lensed By Aleksandra Sachenko.
Tell us about yourself and your background.
Thanks for having me. My name is Melissa, I was born in Saratov, Russia, in 2002. In my school years, I had passions for dancing, music and acting, which persist till today, though in different shapes and proportions. In 2019 I moved to Saint Petersburg to study Computer Science for 4 years, but in 2022 I unexpectedly moved to Montenegro with my father and graduated university remotely, from here. Apart from studying, I dedicated time to stage improvisation, drums and singing (I love events that include stage and spectators!) and one day I got invited to participate in a creative shoot, which spoils the next question :)  
All in all, now I have lived in Montenegro for about two years, working an IT-related job for over a year and exploring the modelling sphere enthusiastically.

How and when did you discover you had a passion for modelling?
Soon after the relocation, I was suggested a place in a massive female-themed project (there were 7 models, 3 make-up artists, a stylist, a videographer and one photographer, who created the idea and organised it all). As I had approximately zero previous experience but was interested in trying modelling before, I accepted that opportunity with enthusiasm, willingness to learn, involved in related preparations and doing my best on the spot. The location was beautiful yet challenging; I was uncontrollably shaking due to the cold weather, light clothes, and wet feet. It did not matter at the time, as I was focused on representing the main idea of the project, helping the photographer to catch the shots she wanted and bringing her idea to life. Eventually, I truly enjoyed the whole experience, from getting to know the team and preparations, to presenting the final results to the offline audience. Even a physically hard photo shoot was fun and exciting, and the results turned out to be great; the team was pleasantly surprised by my work and I got a lot of validation and motivation. With such an incredible start, I could not stay away from the modelling world anymore 
Exclusive Interview With Fashion Model Melissa Ermishina Lensed By Aleksandra Sachenko.
In your own words please describe your style as a model?
As a model, I want to understand the idea behind the look, what it means to its author, what results they want to get, and what emotions to evoke with their visual art. My role now is to help to bring the vision to life, implementing the style, atmosphere and underlying thoughts, naturally and honestly, for future spectators to feel and understand them. 

Do you remember your first experience in front of the Camera?
Sure! I had three options in front of the camera: to freeze and follow direct instructions only; to make faces and play the ape; or to simply avoid it.

How big a role does modelling play in your life?
That is a part of my identity now. Though it used to be something I could spend weekends doing, now it has become equal with my IT job or even more than that.

Who or what is your biggest motivation in life?
Uniqueness! I mean, the fact that there is only one life (that we know for sure about). I also love the phrase that I found through TikTok (the main info resource, you know):{For the plot}. For me, it is another way of saying «I'd rather regret doing something than not doing something» but in a more romanticising and adventurous way. 
Exclusive Interview With Fashion Model 'Melissa Ermishina' Lensed By Aleksandra Sachenko.
What advice would you offer to other aspiring models who wish to set their own style and not be like everyone else?
Trust yourself, your intuition and your emotions. Respect your values and principles. Be ready to adapt and search for compromises but do not go against your beliefs. Stay you.

What Would You Consider the Most Important Components of Your Style? And Do You Feel You Have A Signature Style as a model?
I allow myself to explore and try out different looks, styles and concepts. I value being different and surprising myself by adapting ideas I am not used to. My style is to trust the author's vision, empathise with the photographer to understand what they want in the picture and do my best.

If you could change one thing about the fashion and modelling industry, what would it be? What would you improve?
It's the obsession with numbers! You can not describe each person with a set of numbers and make conclusions based on them. Yet many in the industry still do.
An Exclusive Interview With Fashion Model 'Melissa Ermishina' Lensed By Aleksandra Sachenko.
I completely resonate with what you just said, and I think it is sad how obsessed many are with numbers lately. What is the most challenging part of being a model?
Well, it is physically hard. I had a few shoots in difficult locations and conditions. Being completely focused on the visual outcome despite my surroundings, I more often than not come out of the scene not only drained but with bruises, scratches, pain in different parts of the body or even with a cold. Dedicating part of my consciousness to physical comfort can decrease the quality of the outcome, so that is a tough choice to make. That is why I truly appreciate caring and attentive teams

What are some of the biggest hurdles you have been faced with as a model and how did you overcome them?
Actually, I am now dealing with one! It means being willing to give up long-term planning and even the notion of a house for a while. With multiple contracts, their urgency, and varied lengths, it becomes difficult to maintain a single location where you can return later. You may be faced with the decision of discarding your habits and routines and putting your life in a suitcase for an unknown period of time, leaving you with the option of settling somewhere later. I don't have an answer yet, but I feel comforted knowing that I may remain with family or friends throughout times of uncertainty and search.
An Exclusive Interview With Fashion Model 'Melissa Ermishina' Lensed By Aleksandra Sachenko.
If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?
Well, in that case, I would not be myself, would I? If something in me needs improvement or change, there is no rush, I'll get there at my own tempo. Also, I don't want to be stuck in «what ifs»

Absolutely! What are your personal qualities which distinguish you from others?
Well, we are all unique, I believe. If I were to list a few qualities that could characterise me as a model, I would say trust, dedication and responsibility.

Who are some of your favourite photographers to work with?
Aleksandra Sachenko, without a doubt. Having incredibly sharp taste and vision, she generates fresh and deep ideas for her work regularly. She is also unexpectedly good at unfamiliar crafts and continues to surprise me by creating shooting props, from unique accessories to beautiful dresses, by hand. Being highly professional and very selective with people, she builds the best teams and provides the best care and support for them. Working with her is inspiring and a lot of fun. And the result is always art.
An Exclusive Interview With Fashion Model 'Melissa Ermishina' Lensed By Aleksandra Sachenko.
What's your most memorable shoot?
I would say, the one in an empty pool with Aleksandra. It is so unique, fun and sexy! With these yellow swimming glasses, full makeup, tight dress and heels. I love the look and the idea itself. Moreover, we had fun ourselves and also showed random passers-by and hotel visitors some style that winter day.

What do you consider your biggest professional success so far?
Building a team with Aleksandra. First of all, I love all projects with her. Secondly, thanks to her hard work, I have a beautiful professional portfolio; a lot of photos with me are published, some as covers even; shots from our projects are being exhibited and, moreover, I have this interview! More is coming. 

Becoming a model really introduces one major condition into your life which is "Consistency", Do you think this theory is accurate or not?
I see it more as an identity part, which requires consistency, yes. Once you decide to become a model fully, pretty much every aspect of your life adapts to it. You, both physically and mentally, should be ready to work a lot and travel to do so. You pay extra attention to your skin, body and general appearance, you continue building your portfolio, and you consistently dedicate time and effort to stay in shape while mastering your skills.  
An Exclusive Interview With Fashion Model 'Melissa Ermishina' Lensed By Aleksandra Sachenko.
Is there any brand you would love to model for?
Well, I love working with brands and am open to it; my favourite niches are lingerie, jewellery and wedding dresses as I associate them with self-love, beauty and special, memorable moments. However, the one I have in mind is from another niche.
The brand is called Samara. Their bio says it all: {Cruelty-free fashion, using better materials like apple waste, castor seeds and recycled ocean plastics. and it's female-founded.} I love their mission, their philosophy and the ideas behind their products. If you don’t know them yet, you should definitely read their story, it is fascinating and inspiring. 
Apart from the beauty of the brand itself, Samara is not only the name of one of the sisters, it is also the city in Russia that is special to me. So, you know, the stars aligned!

What does the word "Women Empowerment" mean to you? And how does it help women?
For me personally, it means supporting and encouraging women around you. It exists in different shapes: it happens through words, Instagram reactions and expressing your feelings about something others have created, shared or experienced; it might be a compliment or a reminder, some kind of observation or verbally translated understanding, or acceptance. It can also happen in the form of taking action yourself, experimenting, being inspirationally brave or visibly insecure, open and vulnerable. I love the sense of the women's community around me, which feels not only safe but a vivid and responsive space where I can be tenderly exploring and exchanging thoughts, gaining and giving support and understanding. It helps in making decisions, choosing behavioural strategies, understanding patterns and concepts, gaining strength to fight stereotypes and expressing yourself both authentically and safely. 
An Exclusive Interview With Fashion Model 'Melissa Ermishina' Lensed By Aleksandra Sachenko.
How do you empower females through your work as a model?
I feel like my power is in being curious and openhearted. I try new things, experiment and share gained knowledge and accompanying emotions. I try to avoid an idealistic Instagram-ish picture of successful success, highlighting the life behind it all. I combine different fields and show that it is possible to maintain goals both in IT and modelling, allowing yourself to be not only both but more.

What are your latest and upcoming projects?
The latest project is called Breathing. Featuring a large piece of light translucent fabric, It was made near a waterfall, without any makeup, with nude underwear only. It is hard to describe, but you should definitely look at it yourself. The shots are tender, fragile and delicate.
The upcoming one is called Thaw, and I am really excited about it! Aleksandra is creating looks for it herself, with spring in mind and flowers involved. It is going to be shot in different locations, capturing both natural and city landscapes. And that is all I can say now! 

What are you doing when you are not working?
Well, I do have more than one job, I can say. Apart from that, I stay in touch with my love for performance through improvisation and singing, as I mentioned before. I dedicate time to proper rest and self-care, of course. I value human connections and love spending time with friends and family, going on trips together or just catching up with each other's news.   
An Exclusive Interview With Fashion Model 'Melissa Ermishina' Lensed By Aleksandra Sachenko.
What is your beauty regimen and how do you stay in shape?
I follow basic healthcare routines (eat 3 hours before going to bed, go to sleep early, sleep 8 hours; aim to close all activity rings (stand, movement, exercise) each day, drink enough water; usual 3-step skincare routine: cleansing, toning, moisturising). Apart from that, I go to the gym 3 times a week and have massages regularly. I dedicate time to activities, hobbies and people that bring me joy and calmness. In general, I aim to be attentive towards my needs, caring for both physical and mental health. 

Any last words you'd like to add?
Thank you for the opportunity!
I hope that the readers will get inspiration to explore themselves and enjoy the beauty of life, regardless of their profession.

If you want to keep up with more of  Melissa Ermishina's work, follow her on social media;
Photographer: Aleksandra Sachenko | Instagram
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