Soviet fashion model Mila Romanovskaya
In 1967 Soviet fashion model Mila Romanovskaya won the title of “Miss Russia” at the international fashion show. Famous soviet actor Andrei Mironov was in love with her, and outstanding Russian Soviet director Nikita Mikhalkov fought for her. She was the wife of the artist Yuri Cooper and friend of Joseph Brodsky. And she is a woman of her time, who independently built her own life. Exactly at the moment when she decided that freedom and solitude – the main advantages of this life, she met her greatest love. She was married three times, her third husband – businessman Douglas Edwards. Mr. and Mrs. Edwards live in the county of Hereford in a beautiful English house of the XVIII century with a small park.
Mila Romanovskaya shone on the catwalk at the same time with Regina Zbarskaya, and was her main competitor and antithesis. Regina – burning brunette, Mila – blonde, Regina – arrogant and unapproachable, Mila – easy going and friendly, Regina – capricious on fitting and shows Mila – patient and meticulous … Apogee of their rivalry occurred in 1967, when the fashion designer Tatiana Osmerkina created a dress, called by critics “Russia”, which for several years has become a kind of hallmark of the Soviet Union. The bright red dress was sewed specially for Regina Zbarskaya, but it was decided to give it to Mila Romanovskaya. When blonde Mila put it on, designers of Fashion House unanimously decided that it was a direct hit to the image.
It was an evening dress made of wool boucle – fabrics for coats, embroidered around the neck and chest with gold sequins, to create the effect of chain mail. Creating this dress designer Osmerkina was inspired by Russian iconography, she studied ancient Russian ritual clothing.
Mila (Lyudmila) Romanovskaya showed that dress at the International Festival of Fashion and then opened the show at the International Exhibition of light industry in Montreal. It was there, when foreign press gave Mila nicknames – birch (berezka) and snow-maid (snegurochka).
“Models have told me that our emigrants were crying during the show. Organically Mila Romanovskaya very coincided with my model. At the festival, she was the best in this dress”, recalled fashion designer Tatiana Osmerkina.
Upon returning Romanovskaya, in a dress “Russia” was shot by American photographer for the Look magazine, and not just anywhere, but in the Kremlin’s Assumption Cathedral – unprecedented for that time.
There is a common thing in the biographies of Regina Zbarskaya and Mila Romanovskaya: they were both married to artists. Mila’s husband was graphic artist Yuriy Kuperman. In the early 1970s he emigrated from the Soviet Union, first to Israel, then – to London. In 1972, Mila joined him, quite officially, she was 27 years old.
From an interview of Soviet fashion model Mila Romanovskaya (Magazine “Ogonyok” №23 from 11.06.2002):
– Mila, let’s start from the beginning, from your childhood memories. Were You born in Leningrad?
– My first memories are not about Leningrad, but Samara where I, with my mother were evacuated during the war. My mother was the chief engineer at a military factory. We left together, my father was in St. Petersburg and lived there the entire siege. He was captain of the 1st rank, the chief of port. Later, he was appointed director of the Naval Academy.
We spent in Samara about four years. Unfortunately, during this time there was a tragedy – dad met another woman. But he’s always been good to us, I have associated with him good memories. My father was so interesting, with charisma, soul of the company – loved by all. He played four instruments, told jokes, made everybody laugh.
At the end of the war we returned to Leningrad. Our old house was bombed. Father found us an apartment in the same house where he lived. I visited him often. My mother did not allow divorce, in my opinion, she loved my father all her life. With his second wife’s father lived without registration, which was unusual in those days.
Mom had to work for 12 – 14 hours a day: in the afternoon taught in college, in the evening – in the training school. Of course, we had a phone, she always rang me. But all my time I spent at school or in the yard playing and walking with my friends. I was very thin.
– Did you study in an ordinary school?
– Not really. Later, in London, we with Osya (Iosif Brodsky) wondered whether we knew each other in school days. I studied in the building, where before the revolution was located Annashule, female German school. And Iosif – next in Pitershule. When he was told about it, I gasped, as my friend of the boys was from Pitershule. Osya said: “I think I remember you, you were long and skinny.”
At school I was a terrible hooligan. All the time missing lessons and spending time in the movie. Once instigated my classmates to escape from lessons. The poor mother worried, beat me. I also rubbed with garlic table of Geography teacher. The table smelled so disgusting that it was not possible to enter the class. I hated my Geography teacher and promised to beat anybody who will reveal a secret. But somehow it was discovered and poor mother was again called to the school, and she smacked me with a belt.
Then I was made to study at the electro-mechanical college. I could try the conservatory – I graduated from the School of Music, played the piano, sang, was interested in the history of music – but I did not want to. In college I was kept because I won prizes at competitions in skating.
If even I wanted something, it was probably – to study art history. But then I was going to marry. My mother and I were resting in Finland. I was eighteen. Now no one is on holiday with his parents, and then it was considered normal. On the beach I met two young men. One – older, the other one – about my age. Tall and handsome Volodya and his friend Dima Ivanov studied in Moscow, All Union Institute of Cinematography, in the scenario department.
We exchanged phone numbers. After some time the guys came back. Invited to a concert at the Philharmonic. Then Volodya came to me. The fact that this is serious, I realized, when he introduced me to his mother Tamara Trifonova, director of the Institute of international literature. She did not like me, I felt it immediately. “I will never get along with you mother, – I said to Volodya. – She just despises me”. He told me not to be silly, that’s all right, his mother was of Polish gentry, before the revolution, they had a huge estate in Poland. And she and Volodya were of aristocratic origin.
Soon Volodya made me an offer. I can not say that I lost my head, but it was love. Volodya too, lost his head. He treated me like a crystal.
– What about your “model” career?
– To work as a fashion model, I began shortly before moving to Moscow. One of my friends, classmate worked in a fashion house. We were slightly similar. And one day I got a call: “Rita is ill, and we have a show. She said that you and she are the same size. Could you help us? ”
After the show they told me: “You were born a fashion model!” I thought, ‘Oh my God, it’s brilliant!” I began to work in the House of Models, signed contract and two months later went to Finland. From that moment on I started my meteoric career. And two months later I got married and moved to Moscow. Immediately after the wedding, I started to think about work.
My husband was expelled from the institute and worked at the cable plant. He came in the evening awfully tired. It was a difficult time. Suddenly I received a call from the Fashion House “Come, let’s talk.” I came, and the designer Tanya Osmerkina offered me to work.
Three years later was born our daughter Nastia. It would seem that the child should strengthen the family, but our relationship with Volodya went completely wrong.
After the maternity leave, I quickly went back to work – three or four times a year went abroad, which in those days was a luxury. Volodya suddenly began to drink.
In 1967 I received the title of “Miss Russia”. The Sokolniki Park hosted an international fashion show, attended by seven countries. I was in a red sundress welcoming guests with bread and salt in my hands, and after the show committee chose “Miss” from each country.
The only person who didn’t enjoy this success was her husband Volodya. They got divorced. Her second husband was graphic artist Yuri Kuperman. With Yuri Kuperman she broke up pretty quickly after the departure – the artist began an affair with Catherine Deneuve, he moved to France, Mila remained in England.
She was married three times, her third husband – businessman Douglas Edwards. She herself also was engaged in business – she has two stores. Business is going well – the couple travels around the world by their own plane. More faithful and caring life partner is inconceivable. Douglas protects Mila from all of life’s problems. He behaves like a loyal noble knight guarding the heart of his queen. Mr. and Mrs. Edwards live in the county of Hereford in a beautiful English house of the XVIII century with a small park.
Soviet fashion model Mila Romanovskaya
Russian newspaper Rossyiskaya Gazeta (website rg.ru)
The magazine “Ogonyok” №23 from 11.06.2002