02.09.2015 - Anna von Stackelberg


Elena Perminova


Catapulted from oblivion in the dark streets of Moscow into the centre of a luxurious and stylish universe, orbiting around Paris, London and Moscow, Elena Perminova has had quite a turn in the 29 years that her beauty has graced the planet.


Born into a simple Russian family in Berdsk, Siberia, Elena’s beginnings were anything but luxurious. Growing up in the frosty Siberian plains and in a city dominated by harsh soviet architecture, Elena realised from an early age that she was different from the rest. At the age of nine she coloured her hair bright blue and sported self-decorated jeans. In interviews she recounts that it was during these early days that she realised that it is very important to have a personality and to stand out from the crowd. This conviction and her remarkable looks got her noticed by a local modelling agency.


Elena soon moved to Moscow to further pursue modelling. Instead of landing her in the limelight of fashion however, this move led Elena into the arms of a criminal boyfriend and drug dealer, who forced her to sell ecstasy in Moscow nightclubs. Things came to a head in 2007, when at the tender age of 16 Elena was arrested and sentenced to six years in prison for drug possession. She still describes with horror the small confines of her cell with its stinking toilet and no soap. Elena’s parents, desperate for help, turned to the billionaire and then member of the Russian parliament, Alexander Lebedev, to help them free their daughter from jail. Alexander Lebedev, who himself has a remarkable biography that saw him progress from KGB operative to Russian media mogul in the 1990’s to champion of press-freedom and thorn in the eye of Putin, emerges as the shining fairy-tale prince at this point in Elena’s story. The then 47-year-old Lebedev takes on Elena’s case and manages to free the 16-year-old. Upon her release the pair fall deeply in love and soon start a family. (In 2014 Elena gave birth to the couple’s third child, a baby girl by the name of Arina, joining their two sons Nikita (5) and Egor (3))


With Lebedev’s rescue a new chapter starts for Elena. In 2008, one year after her release, Elena makes her high-fashion debut in a slashed Rodarte sheath at CFDA event in New York, where she is immediately noticed by Giambattista Valli and asked to model for him. She has since become a highly in-demand top model and favourite of Chanel and Dior, while also becoming a signature front row face at fashion shows across the globe. Along with fellow Russian model Natalia Vodianova, couture designer Ulyana Sergeenko, and fashion journalist Miroslava Duma, Elena is part of a group of Russian IT-girls that turn heads and attract street-photographers with their catwalk-fresh ensembles. But different to the Russian label-obsessed fashionistas that used to make the headlines, Elena prides herself on combining both high and low fashion in her wardrobe, pairing an H&M pair of trousers with Balenciaga boots, for instance.


Part of Elena’s undeniable appeal is that she seems to be keeping a relatively cool head amidst the influx of wealth and glamour that surrounds her these days and which is so far removed from her origins.  While completely at ease in the array of chateaus and 16 bedroom villas that she and Alexander call home, Elena believes that while money provides a pleasant comfort, family is the most important aspect of life. In an interview with the Daily Mail, she explains thatthe comfortable life granted by wealth “is not in my veins, and I know what the important things are….Money doesn’t mean stability to me. Of course it’s important and good, but being close to your family is so much more important.’



Short Facts


Elena is the impersonation of the ultimate rags-to-riches story. Rescued from a six year jail sentence in a Moscow jail by her now billionaire husband Alexander Lebedev, Elena has emerged as one of fashion’s ultimate Russian IT-girls.


Elena likes to show of her personality with her approach to fashion, pulling of outfits that no one else could dream up. Combining low and high fashion, Elena has become a street-photographer favourite.


Elena realised at a very young age that it is important to stand out from the crowd. In this way, while during a school Christmas play all the other girls dressed as princess snowflakes, Elena came dressed as a yellow baby chicken.


1986 – Birth

Elena is born on September 1st 1986 in the town of Berdsk, Siberia

2002 – Siberian Model

At the age of 16 Elena signed with Modus Vivendus, a local Siberian modelling agency

2006 – Arrest

Elena is arrested for distributing drugs in Moscow and given a six year sentence, despite being key in a successful sting-operation to arrest the local king-pin

2007 – Rescue

In 2007 Elena’s parents contact Alexander Lebedev, a member of the Russian parliament and Oligarch, who helps them free Elena from jail.

2008 – Love

Elena and Alexander Lebedev fall in love and become a couple. In the same year, Elena has her head-turning debut in the world of international fashion at the CDFA awards in New York.

2012 – Nomination

Elena is nominated for Glamour Russia’s Woman of the Year title


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