How Irina Shayk went from poverty-stricken kid to rich model dating A-listers including Ronaldo & Kanye West
LOOKING at her now, effortlessly posing, draped in designer clothes and jewellery in every Instagram picture she posts, you'd think Irina Shayk had always wanted be the world's most iconic model.
But the thought never crossed the Russian beauty's mind as a child. She was born in a rural village to a poor coal-miner dad, who tragically died when she was just 14.
In fact, Irina – who grew up in the small Russian town of Yemanzhelinsk -previously admitted: “I remember having no food at home.”
“Sometimes there was no salary, or my mum and dad’s salary was delayed,” she told Elle.
Her life couldn't be further from that now, as Irina, 35, is worth $25 million (£17.6m).
This week she was linked to Kanye West, who's worth $1.8bn (£1.3bn) and the pair are said to be “dating,” following his split from Kim Kardashian earlier this year.
But he's not the first A-list star she's been linked to.
Irina has a string of high-profile relationships under her belt, including with Cristiano Ronaldo, and even former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, 50 years her senior.
So how did she go from a poverty-stricken child to a model millionaire?
Growing up in Russia, Irina’s dad was a coal miner and her mother, Olga, was a pianist who taught music to nursery children.
Tragically, Irina’s father, Valeriy Shaykhlislamov, passed away when she was just 14 years old, leaving her mother and grandmother to raise her and her sister.
She told Vogue: “He was the healthiest man alive, and at 44, out of the blue, he was coughing for a while then got pneumonia and died.
“Me, my mum and my sister were left. Three women.”
With not much money coming in, Irina's mother had to take a second job to make ends meet.
Irina recalls how it taught herto survive “early in life because in Russia you have to.”
She explains, “In summer you grow vegetables and bury them, so in wintertime you have potatoes, carrots, everything, so you can survive.
“When I moved to New York, I was shocked that people go to the supermarket and buy potatoes. I was like: ‘That’s crazy.’”
And she has said she believes this tough upbringing gave her the thick skin necessary for the harsh world of modeling, with agents telling her, “You have to lose weight”.
“I always said no, because I know who I am,” she said.
It also made her feel like she was destined for greater things.
She told the Mail: "No matter who I imagined myself to be in the future, somehow I was sure: I would leave my hometown.
"I felt it was my destiny."
And Irina's friend confirmed: "I remember Irina's mother working like a slave for her family.
"And Irina – she was determined to use every chance she had to get to Moscow, and then to the world."
Bullied for being different
Irina also learnt to take criticism on the chin in school, and recalls being bullied for her unique looks.
Irina insists she wasn’t an attractive child.
“I was really skinny and have darker skin, so boys and girls made fun of me,” she said “I had bigger lips too."
It wasn’t until she moved to a bigger city with her sister, and started studying marketing at college that she was discovered by a scout at a beautyand modelling school next door.
She recalls: “He saw me, took pictures and said, ‘Oh, do you wanna be a model? Do you wanna go to Paris?’”
Her big break
After spending some time in Paris, Irina plucked up the courage to go to her agency and ask for more money.
Speaking of her first professional shoot in 2007, she says, “I went to Spain and booked a catalogue for Lacoste, went to the Caribbean to shoot it, and I made, I don’t know, €4,000?
“My mum cried for days.”
And it wasn't just top agents that began to notice Irina.
Irina has had a string of millionaire – and even billionaire – men queuing up to date her ever since she started modelling.
In 2007, Irina started a relationship with Linkin Park drummer Rob Bourdon, now worth $20m (£14.1m).
However, they split two years later.
Then, in 2009, Irina was rumored to have a tryst with former FIFA president Sepp Blatter – although their relationship was never confirmed.
At 85 years old, Sepp is 50 years older than Irina, and he's worth a whopping $40million (£28.3m),
Keeping with the football theme, Irina went on to date Cristiano Ronaldo the following year.
Worth $500million (£353.2m), he's said to be one of the richest athletes in the world.
Irina and Ronaldo reportedly met through their modeling campaigns for Armani Exchange.
But in January 2015, he released a statement confirming they had broken up after nearly five years.
The footballer said: “After dating for five years, my relationship with Irina Shayk has come to an end.
“'We believed it would be best for both of us to take this step now.”
After Ronaldo, Irina began dating Bradley Cooper – worth $100million (£70.7m) in April 2015, following his break-up with model Suki Waterhouse.
Just a few months later, and they’d moved in together.
Then Irina gave birth to their first child, Lea De Seine, in March 2017.
Their relationship wasn’t to be and Irina ended things in 2019, when she was reportedly fed up with his gruelling work schedule.
A source told Entertainment Tonight at the time: "Irina truly had high hopes for their future together and felt once the baby was born they would find the time to marry but that never came to fruition.
“She wanted more from Bradley in every way. But she was unhappy and felt he spent too much time working.
"Recently Irina decided enough is enough."
They continued: “She didn't feel she was getting the level of commitment she wanted and the endless fighting made their life unbearable.
“They are very different people and once they realised it was the baby that was holding them together, it was time to call it quits."
Focusing on motherhood
Now, Irina is reportedly dating Kanye but her main focus is on being a mum to four-year-old Lea – who she says doesn’t see her as a supermodel, just as mum.
She says: “I have this huge picture that Peter Lindbergh gave me on my wall.
“She’ll always joke, ‘I want this mama, I don’t want this mama,’ pointing at the picture, and we laugh about it.”
And she and Bradley are on good terms.
She calls him “the most amazing dad” and they’re often photographed together with their daughter.
Irina’s life is definitely a far cry from her upbringing in Russia.
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