Irina Shayk has walked catwalks across the globe, graced countless magazine covers and fronted major fashion campaigns, but when it comes to the term “supermodel” the Russian-born runway star feels no connection.
“It means nothing. I’m just a human being,” Shayk, 32, told PEOPLE before hitting the runway at the Intimissimi fashion show in Verona, Italy, last week. “I don’t wake up in hair and makeup and high heels. I literally love to wear the most comfortable clothes ever and sometimes when my agent sees me, he’s like, ‘Irina, this is not okay.’ And I’m like, ‘This is me.'”
The mom to 18-month-old daughter, Lea De Seine, with boyfriend Bradley Cooper, said that she does, however, push herself to be the best she can be on and off the catwalk.
“I don’t wake up and say, ‘Oh my god I’m so perfect.’ I wake up and say, ‘Maybe it’s time to go to the gym, I have cellulite.’ I’m very critical of myself,” she shared. “I feel like once you get too comfortable that’s the day you go down. I’m a Capricorn so I love to push myself to do better.”
As for achieving a strong inner confidence, Shayk revealed it took her a long time. The model feels “completely different” now compared to when she first started in the industry over a decade ago.
“Through my career and through my travel experience I’ve learned so much about me, about my body and about life — about being present in life,” she said. “My self-confidence has grown.”
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According to Shayk, working closely with Italian lingerie label Intimissimi has been one of the career partnerships that helped build her self-esteem.
“The Intimissimi show is really fun because they’re my family and they’ve been doing it for so long — it’s a tradition,” she said. “I love this brand because it has something that every woman can buy. It’s affordable. It’s great quality. And I’m Russian — trust me — I love to save my money. I don’t like to spend my money on something that I’m going to trash in a few weeks.”
When she hit the catwalk sporting the latest collection from the label, Shayk said she felt “sexy and modern.”
“When you wear it you don’t feel like you’re somebody else. You just feel you and it’s like your second skin,” she shared. “I love to be associated with a brand that is very relatable to women.”
Shayk finds it empowering that women are now transitioning their favorite lingerie pieces into street style looks, whether that means wearing pajamas outside the house or a lacy bodysuit with a great pair of jeans.
“For so many years women were told how to dress and how to show their bodies, but now we can do whatever we want to do if it makes us feel good,” she said.
When it comes to feeling her best on the runway, Shayk admitted she’s “so bad” at dieting, but does try to ramp up her exercise routine.
“I love food and we’re in Italy so I’m having a really hard time with risotto and stuff. My mom always says, ‘If you eat bad, just don’t feel like you’re gaining weight somewhere’ So you eat and just enjoy,” she shared. “I do a little workout, go to the steam room and just wake up and look at myself and say, ‘Oh, I can do it. I look great.’ You have to be okay with your body and feel great inside too. And of course you should eat lighter, but I don’t follow that unfortunately.”