x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Russian girls as young as five reach for the runway

Gallery: Meet the young hopefuls on a scouting mission along the Trans-Siberian Railway to find Russian's next top models.

Models prepare for a Siberian Fashion Weeks show at Mega Mall in Novosibirsk. Anastasia Taylor-Lind / VII
Models prepare for a Siberian Fashion Weeks show at Mega Mall in Novosibirsk. Anastasia Taylor-Lind / VII

Modelling agencies worldwide are mad about the delicate features of beautiful Russian women. Anastasia Taylor-Lind travels to London and Siberia to meet and photograph the young girls with big dreams who hope to impress scouts searching for the next supermodel.

Some of the most beautiful women in the world come from Siberia, and international model scouts scour the length of the Trans-Siberian Railway every year searching for the next new face and multimillion-dollar brand.

The Russian look - with their oversized Bambi eyes, small rosebud lips and China-doll high cheekbones – is all the rage.

Travelling with Noah Models International, Russia's largest scouting agency, as it held castings in major cities along the railway, the photographer Anastasia Taylor-Lind met some of the children who are aspiring to take on the world - ordinary girls, each with her own personal struggles, hopes and dreams.

Travel motivates many young girls, who long to see the world outside of vast Siberia. But for each girl who succeeds, there are hundreds more dreaming of the chance to work abroad and live their own Cinderella story.

Modelling agencies across Siberia run schools for girls from the age of five. Here they learn how to walk, pose, diet and apply make-up. With strongly defined gender roles and ideals in Russian culture, which dictates that men must be classically masculine and women always meek and feminine, it seems a natural rite of passage for young girls to attend these finishing-type schools. It is in the same way that western society expects girls to attend ballet school and pony club, while boys play football and other gender-affirming activities.