Linda Vojtova is our January 2019 Model of the Month.
The Czech beauty is a name that needs no introduction. Raised in Prague Czech Republic, Vojtova found her footing in modelling at the age of 15 after she entered the Elite model look competition and won the world final in Geneva, Switzerland. She was booked by Ellen von Unwerth for the Miss 60 campaign in Paris the following year, propelling her to stardom.
Since then, she has cemented her place as one of the most successful models of the millennium gracing the covers of fashion’s most-read bibles and starring as the face of numerous fashion campaigns. She has been lensed by the industry's most prolific photographers and has worked alongside true masters including Peter Lindbergh, Steven Klein and Steven Meisel.
But it wasn't just good looks that elevated Vojtova to stardom. She is known for her indefatigability and rigorous work ethic. Now two years shy of two decades in modelling Vojtova as we know her today moves with poise on the red carpet, in front of the camera and in her prolific social media posts (@lindavojtova).
When she’s not working, Vojtova can be found at the gym exercising or spending time with friends, seeing art galleries and a having good lunch. She is next planning a Carnegie Hall concert on January 15th, which will present one of her grandfather Vadim Petrov's compositions.
For Vojtova, charm and impeccability come rich and plenty. Expressive and strikingly elegant, she is among those women who define beauty on their own terms, a true inspirationalist and is as supermodel as supermodels go.
Below, Linda shares with FMD her unfiltered views on modelling, the key to happiness, her secret to staying inspired and plans for the future. Read on to learn what the supermodel had to say, and later check out her profile on FMD
How did you get to be where you are? How did your modeling career start?
I started modeling with a local Prague agency at age 14. My first trips were to Munich, Vienna and Milan. At age 15 I entered the Elite model look competition and won the world final in Geneva, Switzerland. After that I signed a contract with Elite agency worldwide and that’s when my career really took off.
Did you always want to be a model? Who or what inspired you to become a model?
I never thought of being a model. Both of my parents are lawyers, so naturally, I wanted to become lawyer like them. My mother saw a big potential in me to be successful as a model. Not only in my look, but in my confidence, independency and hard-working habits. She is the one who pushed me in the beginning and helped me along the way whenever I needed. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for her support.
Your connection to music is undeniably strong-after all, your grandfather Vadim Petrov is a celebrated Czech composer. Growing up did you at any point consider becoming a musician?
I played piano since age 6 for about 9 years. When I started modeling, I didn’t have enough time for piano anymore, I was working and traveling the world while studying high school. I didn’t dream of becoming a musician like my grandfather, but I loved being able to play an instrument, which I miss in my life now days. I am thinking to pick up piano lessons again this coming year.
You've traveled all over the world at fifteen. How did you manage to study at high school in Prague and juggle modeling?
It wasn’t easy at all. I started traveling while I was still in 9th grade of elementary school. Then when I entered high school, I had a special plan, where I was able to travel as much as needed as long as I passed all of my exams same as the rest of the students. I would go to NYC for 2 weeks and then back to school for a week and so on.
What was your first big break in the industry?
My first biggest break was when I was 16 years old. Ellen von Unwerth booked me for Miss 60 campaign in Paris. She was the first one who believed in my potential and gave me a chance as a starting model.
Is the fashion world what you expected it to be?
The fashion world like any other professional world keeps changing and evolving. I never had expectations, since I was so young when I entered into. It’s definitely much harder job than what it looks like from the outside.
What do you think are the main challenges in modeling today?
I think it’s much more difficult for models to start their career now days. They have to come to NY or Paris and be ready right away for the pressure of traveling, working overtime, being professional and everything that comes with the job. There is very little learning time. The business is so much faster than when I was starting 19 years ago.
What is your favorite or most exciting aspect about being a model? What do you like least?
The most exciting for me is definitely the freedom I get from this career. I am independent, I can travel and see the world, I am constantly meeting new people from all around the world.
The hardest part is that you never know what will be tomorrow. Will the job of your dreams confirm, or not? Will the agency call you in the middle of the night to fly somewhere for a job? The uncertainty of tomorrow is the hardest for me. I am a planner at heart.
What do you believe is the key to success for a model? What qualities does one need to succeed?
You have to have lot of confidence. People will constantly tell you what they think of your look, personality, body type. It’s not always nice stuff and definitely not easy to hear. Having good values and being an ambitious, independent and fearless person who goes after their dreams helps in achieving success.
In which phase of a model's career do you think her personality becomes important?
Immediately. I don’t know any successful model that doesn’t have infectious personality. As a model you bring life to the shoot of whatever product you’re selling. It’s all about personality and what can you give from within you.
What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?
I’ve been extremely lucky with the jobs I’ve been booked on in my career. It’s hard to say which one of them is the highlight though. I see it as levels of growth I had to conquer. First highlight would have been winning Elite model look and signing with Elite worldwide. Then Miss 60 campaign as my first international campaign. Max Mara campaign with Steven Meisel when I moved to NYC. Worldwide beauty and hair campaigns. And working with the best people in the business for almost 2 decades.
What was one of your favorite past projects?
In December 2018 I became the guest editor in chief of Czech magazine ProcNe?!, which is part of newspaper equivalent to Financial times. The whole issue was about NYC and we shot at my favorite locations and restaurants. We did a beautiful fashion shoot in iconic Soho streets in downtown Manhattan with photographer Christopher Ferguson. My friend Ubah Hassan was on the cover with me as well as in the fashion story. I introduced many of my friends that have grown interesting businesses in NYC like Thursday boots, or Khirma Eliazov. It was such a great experience for me.
Many of your fans are young girls. What advice do you have for young girls who are struggling with self-esteem?
I found meditation helped me so much with my self-esteem. My favorite is transcendental meditation, but there are so many apps now days, you can easily follow the steps and learn any kind of meditation. I think it’s really hard in this day and age not to actually feel less than. With social media taking over the world and images that are retouched to perfection, people are seeking so much attention. My advice is to never compare yourself to anyone else and find hobbies that make you excited, fulfilled and that help you grow as a person.
Out of all the places your career has taken you, where was the most memorable?
For sure Havana and Israel. In Havana I found the happiest people in the worlds, despite so little they had. They were just genuinely happy and giving with a huge heart. I went to Israel when I was 16 years old for a 1-day job. But after I landed in Tel Aviv, the September 11th terrorist attacks happened in NYC, and I had to stay in Tel Aviv until planes started flying again. In such a horrific time that the world was facing those days, I found so much good energy in Israel with its people celebrating life. I love the energy that you find here.
How do you deal with all the traveling required to be a model? How do you cure jet-lag?
Unfortunately, I haven’t yet found the cure for jet leg. But I try to sleep as much on planes and drink as much water as possible to stay hydrated. I take melatonin to help me sleep at night when I feel the time change is going to be hard to fall asleep at night. Also, exercise helps a lot.
How would you describe yourself as model in three words?
Reliable. Focused. Fun.
Give us 1 fact about you people may not know.
I love to knit. Anything, anytime. It’s one of my greatest pass time hobbies.
Are you a morning person or night person?
Morning person 100%
How do you stay in shape?
I love taking classes. So, I go to spin class 3 times a week and to yoga at least twice. I also enjoy boxing classes in NYC.
What is your favorite form of exercise?
My favorite is definitely yoga.
What’s your beauty regime?
I love Sisley cosmetics. I have super sensitive skin, so I use the rose line which is calming. I do at least 2 masks a week, but if I travel on the plane, I do one after each flight. The most important is to cleanse the skin properly at night, I never forget to do that.
Name your five essential items you wouldn't leave the house without?
My wallet, iPhone, headphones, chap stick, sunglasses.
What’s the 1 outfit that makes you feel sexy and confident?
High waisted jeans, silk tank top, blazer, high heels and a nice clutch.
What things in your wardrobe would you never throw away?
Probably simple black silk dress that you can dress up and down, good pair of jeans, jean shirt, black pumps. And any of my Chanel bags.
What's the best life advice you've ever received?
Don’t let anyone else define who you are.
What is your favorite snack?
Gummy bears and nuts.
If you could have one superpower, what would you choose?
I’d love to heal people.
Is there a model's career that you admire and why?
I look up to models who used their fame to build business and went on to help others. In that sense I admire Gisele Bundchen, Heidi Klum, Candice Swanepoel, Karlie Kloss, to name a few.
Do you have a mentor? Who? What is it about them that you admire and why?
I do not have a mentor. I believe, that anyone we have an interaction with during our day is a mentor in some way. You learn how to react or how to not over react.
Your mother has supported you from the beginning. How was she a role model for your career?
My mother was a single mother to me and my brother Martin. She is one or the strongest and toughest people I know. Never afraid of anything, follows her dreams and is a good-hearted person. I wanted to be like her when I grew up. Just fearless. I am still working towards that goal :-)
You've had the privilege of doing photo shoots alongside true masters including Peter Lindbergh, Steven Klein and Steven Meisel: Whom would you consider a favorite and why?
I couldn’t say who’s the favorite. Everyone I worked with is their own personality. I think with Steven Meisel we had the best connection. He is very precise and knows exactly what he’s looking for in each picture. It’s very perfected and I like that kind of work too.
If you had to wear only one designer, who would it be?
When you're not busy modeling, what are some of your favorite things to do?
I exercise every day. I like to spend time with my friends and do stuff like going to see art galleries or go for good lunch. I always find stuff to be busy with. I studied goldsmithing school for 2 years in downtown Manhattan, whenever I wasn’t working as a model. I like to keep learning things.
What are your favorite hangout spots in your hometown? Do you have any travel tips for those visiting Prague?
Every time I go home, I always walk the Charles bridge and take in the Prague castle view. I find Prague to be such a magical city and no matter how many times you see it, you always fall in love with it again and again. If you like to try good Czech food, my favorite restaurant is Kolkovna close to the Old town square. Make sure to bring good walking shoes, as Prague is a walking city.
How would you describe your use of social media?
Moderate. I try to be conscious of the time I spent on my social media. It’s so easy to just be on it whenever you haven’t something to do. It’s very hard, but I have to remind myself every day to put my phone down and do something productive.
What are your views on social media? Do you think it is a good way to control your image? How important is being authentic online?
If you’re not on social media today, it’s almost as if you didn’t exist. Especially for models, social media stands in place of your portfolio. Clients like to see how you look in your everyday life, what are you up to, see your personality. I think it’s important to be authentic in every aspect of life. And if you are ok with the fact, that you will never be able to please absolutely everyone and just be you, this is when you can be 100% authentically you.
How do you think your musical upbringing influenced the model you became?
I think what influenced my career is the fact, that we always had very interesting people over our house. My grandparents are very social people and up until today they have visitors over their house.
If you could go back in time and give your 15-year-old self some advice what would it be?
Don’t worry about what’s to come. It will all work out one way or another.
One of your biggest passions has been charity work. How does your support of it fit in with your passion for life?
Charity should be part of everyones life I believe. Its not about how much we are able to give, but how we can even influence someones life to become better. There is so much good that needs to be done around the world. I like working with charities that include the communities they help in exchange. For expamle charity water is a charity that buids water wells and the community helps w the drilling of the pump etc.
What inspires you and your wide ranging charitable endeavors?
I have to be passionate and have my heart fully in a project and that’s all I need to be involved.
In a world like the fashion industry where models come and go at a frenzied pace, and only few leave a mark. What would you say is secret of your longevity?
I think I was lucky to start at the time that fashion business was much slower and the girls that were successful stayed for a long time. I love what I do and always give it 100%.
What are you working on now and what do you dream of happening in the future?
We are planning a Carnegie hall concert on January 15th, which will be presenting one of my grandfather’s compositions. The UN Chamber orchestra with musicians from the NY philharmonic will be playing concert benefiting the Mount Sinai cancer research. I hope to live day by day; not plan too much and stay inspired in the future to follow whatever dreams I have.
What is your life motto? Is there a quote or mantra you live by?
What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.
Thank you Linda Vojtova for this amazing interview!
note: all answers are original and unaltered - Interview & Text by: Clinton Gonsalvez - Special Thanks to Patrick Lazhar @ Model Management (Hamburg, Germany).