Thirteen years ago, a native of Prague won the most prestigious beauty contest Schwarzkopf Elite Model Look. Even though she had never dreamed of long dresses, fashion shows or photoshoots for renowned magazines. Only thanks to her mother a top model was born, who with her beauty and being different and entered the history of modeling. Because of the adversity in her private life, Denisa has settled in Prague, where she devotes herself not only to her own modeling, but also to working with future models. For the second year in a row, she has been awarded the title of ambassador for Elite, whose final evening took place at the end of August in the Spanish Hall of Prague Castle.
What was the final evening like and how did you feel about it? Was it different from previous years?
For me, that night is always noble, because it takes place in the Spanish Hall, so all the connection together is just beautiful.
Do you feel any nostalgia? It's been thirteen years ...
I feel nostalgia every time, but they are strong memories that gave a new direction to my life.
The whole event also seems cute to me. I remember those little girls walking on stage, wearing their heels for the first time in their lives…
As you describe it, that was exactly my case. Stage fright and relatively little self-esteem also play a huge role.
Remember the feelings you had when you first stood there. You were fifteen, in a hall full of celebrities, top models, there were parents… How does a fifteen-year-old girl perceive it?
For me it was probably the biggest stress I had in my life. But I like the way times change. During my Elite I was wearing Kenvelo. Thirteen years ago, of course, it was "in”. Now I see the finalists wearing Valentino robes, and I envy them a bit. It always feels funny. Elite was the first to cancel swimsuits to make young girls feel more comfortable.
Do you think they realize what they are wearing? How much it costs?
I think at least half of them suspect. Thanks to social media they can follow fashion. And mostly they are girls or even boys who want to do it, so they should understand it a bit. But how much does it cost? Well, not like Kenvelo. (laughter)
You wanted to be a model back then?
No, my mom sent me to casting.
Did you expect to end up modeling?
At fourteen I wanted to be a hairdresser. And most importantly, I have two brothers, so I wasn't really interested in fashion to tell the truth. I was at my grandmother's with my cousin on the day of casting. And my mom called me and asked where I was. I explained to her that I was at my grandmother's cottage, and she blurted me out to get on the bus immediately and come, because today is the last day of casting. So I came to Chodov shopping center in my cargo pants, with a sweatshirt and a hood.
Maybe that's exactly what they're looking for. Did they ever tell you why they chose you?
Probably some charisma. Like us, when we see a girl or a boy today. That first moment.
Mom had to be excited.
It was a shock to her and she was terribly excited and proud.
When she looks at it with the distance of thirteen years, you are already an adult woman and you travel around the world ... Did she ever come to you with "I told you ..."?
She hasn't told me once, I think.
Did she travel the world with you?
Not at all.
You didn't take her anywhere?
I always had this hectic when I went to fashion weeks. And I always had it as a job. I'd rather take my mom on vacation or somewhere privately to have time and enjoy it.
I remember that once I took pictures for Eva magazine, she went with me to Bratislava. That was the beginning of my career. She can't even be with me for a photo shoot, so she wandered around Bratislava all day and waited for me to finish.
You've been Elite's ambassador for the second year. What does that mean to you, what do you do with girls? And do they know you?
Not everyone knows me, but mainly casting participants who are interested in modeling know me. As ambassador for Schwarzkopf Elite Model Look, I host the casting, so I have a microphone and talk to everyone about the casting process, what we expect of them, to not be afraid, to be themselves. Then I go among them and do interviews - why they signed up for casting, why they wanted to do it, where they came from ...
Do you advise them how to deal with heels?
Not at the casting, only after they are in the semi-finals and in the finals, then they receive similar advice.
In the end there are two female winners and two male winners. You went to the World Finals, got a contract and left for two months. Is it the same course today?
The finalists must first gain some experience and build a portfolio, starting a lot in Asia. Like the last year's winner, I started in Singapore, but it is a lot in Tokyo, Seoul or Hong Kong. My world finals took place in Marrakech, the last one was in Tenerife, the next one will be in Paris.
Where have you worked best in the thirteen years you do modeling? Where did you like most and where would you like to stay?
I've always been a European type. I like New York, but I like to fly there only after some time and for a short time. Even though I lived there for a while, the city is too hectic for me. I also like nature, but there is no nature in New York, except for the parks, which are constantly crowded. So I prefer Europe, be it Paris, Barcelona and so on.
Now you live in Prague?
Now I live here.
And are you satisfied here?
I am most satisfied because I have been traveling since I was fifteen and I have never lived here properly. For the last seven, eight years I have lived in Bratislava, halfway between New York and Bratislava. I came here a year ago and I really enjoy it. Being a Praguer I am finally getting to know Prague.
Do you think you will settle here?
I want to stay here and settle, I'm a home type.
I also ask that because when I recently entered your name on Google, I first saw that you were divorced. I don't want to touch a painful subject, I don't know how long it has been… But do you still have it that you'd rather be here because you have a family here and you feel better here?
Yes, I'm divorced. It was with my ex-husband that I lived in Bratislava. For me it has always been about having to be close to Prague, moreover there is a similar language, the same culture, we understand each other, we have the same customs. So for me it was always either Slovakia or Czechia.
But isn't it more demanding in terms of work?
I used to fly from Vienna, which is an even better connection than from Prague, so it didn't stop me. I had a base there, but I was still flying and traveling.
Do you rather have foreign offers or do you get hired in the Czech Republic?
I spend more time here last year, flying abroad for so-called direct bookings. In the Czech Republic it is more like paid attendance at events, prestigious shows and so on.
When I compare it, there is Elite on the one hand in the Czech Republic and then the Czech Miss. Their finalists and winners are just the stars of various parties. And from what they told me during the interviews, it's more difficult to get some model work. They will not even try modeling on a foreign level…
Miss and us, that's really something else. I do not know a miss who would take part in a fashion week that would take pictures of Vogue or some other prestigious magazine. That's another world, I think.
You've finished shooting for Vogue and similar titles. How does this take place? This must work at an unimaginable level! I myself took part in a photo shoot with Czech miss…
Thanks to higher budgets, foreign production is incomparable, but professional photography is also taking place in the Czech Republic. The common idea is that models have it easy. They sit somewhere, smile, and it's done.
Describe your work...
Make-up and hair styling alone sometimes take several hours, while the actual shooting takes five to six hours. When preparing an editorial, you shoot for example 10 outfits, but when you shoot commercial work, you can shoot even 30. Sometimes you fly 20 hours to the location of shooting, then 20 hours back. Believe me, what looks simple and smiling in a photo is often not physically simple. Here and there we can smile, but mostly not.
I've already got so many questions, especially when I started modeling, because I didn't have a photo with a smile. And the family wondered why we couldn't smile. And it is true that, unlike the misses who smile at lifestyle photos, no one wants smiles from us, because we are not presenting ourselves, but a product as such, whether in fashion or cosmetics.
You're 28 years old now. How long can you still do high-level modeling?
I hope at least another three or four years. Or even five years, it's hard to say. A lot of people have told me that I look younger, so that's another plus that this job can feed me longer.
And then what?
Then it will ease, the work will probably not be so intense, but I do not know. I've been doing this since I was fifteen, and a lot of people have been asking this question. I guess I'll still stay in business, fashion, because I have no other experience. I can't imagine sitting at work from Monday to Friday from eight to six, so I don't know.
But lately I have been intrigued by and enjoyed photography. Being on the other side, with the camera in hand. But I would not shoot models, I enjoy taking pictures of things, buildings, animals, nature and so on. I will probably start my professional education.
Even though you look younger, you certainly have to take care of yourself. What do you swear by?
I started to do a lot of sports. First, I enjoy it, second I like to eat, so I try to run twice a week. Nothing extreme. For example, I don't like yoga, even though I want to try it sometimes. I run and go to the gym. I have cheat days on the weekend, but I still take it in moderation. For example, I try not to eat pastry at all, but I will have a slice of bread over the weekend.
What about cosmetics and the like, do you go?
I go, but not so often. I go to a cosmetics session every two or three months. I use classic products, I don't have any expensive ones, so I don't know, I probably got it genetically that I don't have to worry so much.
What about shopping? After all, we do not have such opportunities in the Czech Republic as abroad. And I assume that as a top model you like nice clothes. For example, did you spend your first money on an expensive piece, Dior?
I was told at the beginning that I should buy some nice handbag to represent when I come to casting. So the first thing was Dior, it was an investment, I still have it. These are things that last a long time. Here in the Czech Republic I go shopping too, but I don't buy expensive things. You buy more in the world.
What do you love? What is your favorite brand?
Always at the end of the year I want to make myself happy all year long, I love Chanel handbags. Others too, but for example last year I bought Chanel. I'm trying not to spend it completely. I always think that I have everything, I do not need anything. Sometimes I get carried away, but I keep trying to relax.
And where do you get them? I would probably go to Italy or France…
There is a great choice in Paris, but I bought the last one in Vienna. I was shopping very well in Vienna. When I lived in Bratislava, we were in Vienna in 45 minutes.
In Fast Confession you said you'd gain 30 kilograms for free. Are you serious?
If I hadn't done modeling, I'd probably stay at home and eat from dawn to evening.
Can you imagine yourself 30 kilos heavier?
Well, not at all.
You're quite tall, so it would probably be lost. But still, 30 kilos, plus red hair… What would parents say?
About 30 kilos probably nothing, rather the red hair. But I have no problem cutting or coloring. It's just hair, it grows back, they can be dyed back.
You have two tattoos. Isn't that a problem with modeling?
Not anymore, thanks to current technology. They can retouch, it's a piece of cake.
Does it have any meaning for you?
I originally had a wedding date tattooed, and I had it tattooed into a mandala.
The next question is about men and relationships. It is said that models are much easier because they are beautiful and men desire them more. How did you perceive it in those thirteen years?
To tell the truth, I only begin to see it after the divorce. From fifteen to twenty I was still a child, and then I met my ex-husband. We've been together for eight years. I'm a person wehre nobody interests me anymore, and everyone knew I was taken. So I didn't even notice if there was any indication. Now I can feel it once it spread that I'm single…
Is it mainly via social networks or even on the street?
It is mostly via social networks, but it has happened to me. I have a dog, a cocker spaniel, and I was walking with her. I just got out of the cottage and I wore tracksuits, t-shirt, flip flops, ponytail hair, no makeup. I was outside with Nella and a car drove past. So I looked at him, he looked at me. Then it passed a second time, so I looked again. So we walk through the park and the gentleman was waiting for me at the end of the park with an invitation for coffee.
And did he look you up, or was it just a coincidence?
He lived there, so it was probably a coincidence that he drove by.
And how do you deal with it? Is it pleasant for you or vice versa?
It's definitely nice, but I'm very shy, so it's in a hurry for me… Another gentleman was waiting for me at the shopping center with a bouquet and a book.
So maybe he reads it, waits a moment, and then tries again...
I certainly need more time and communication before I meet anyone.
After so many years in a relationship and in a marriage, is it not that one feels angered and more afraid?
The beginnings were difficult. I didn't want to meet anyone anymore, nor was it so appealing to me. But after a while you start to miss it.
Could you conclude that another year of Elite is over, are you happy, happy and open to new tomorrows?
Exactly, that's exactly how I feel.
Thank you very much for the interview.
What does Elite model look mean to you in one sentence?
The most prestigious modeling competition for beginning models.