Siberian Dream

Siberian Dream

3.0 1
by Irina Pantaeva
     
 

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Siberian Dream begins amid the repression of the final days of the Soviet Union. Born into an ancient indigenous Siberian culture, Irina came of age with a rich heritage of spirituality and creativity that was often at odds with the world around her - a world of poverty because her parents refused to join the Communist party, and a world in which individuality was… See more details below

Overview

Siberian Dream begins amid the repression of the final days of the Soviet Union. Born into an ancient indigenous Siberian culture, Irina came of age with a rich heritage of spirituality and creativity that was often at odds with the world around her - a world of poverty because her parents refused to join the Communist party, and a world in which individuality was stifled. As a girl, she began to associate the simple act of getting dressed every day with freedom of self-expression, a freedom that almost landed her in a juvenile home. Picked by a talent scout to star in a Soviet film, Irina came to Moscow, a city in which old borders and ideologies were collapsing. Then against all odds, saving every penny, she ventured on an impossible journey to Paris, where she struggled to break into the fashion industry, still enduring rejection because her exotic beauty was not readily accepted. Irina's moving tale culminates with her arrival in New York - a journey that nearly resulted in her arrest - where her dreams began to metamorphose into reality. With dizzying speed, she found herself celebrated by the New York fashion world, and embraced by the open spirit and industry of America. Her struggle to survive has been transformed into a meteoric rise in fashion and film, as Irina continues to weave the fabric of dreams from the ancient cloth of her people.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Veronica Webb, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss--all the supermodels have caught the writing bug, usually to unimpressive effect. Not so, however, with Waris Dirie (see review below) or Pantaeva--born a Buryat Eskimo in the Siberian city of Ulan Ude (pop. 300,000)--whose delightful, moving and at times harrowing saga of her struggle to make it as a fashion model in the West rarely descends into falseness or cliche. "My people were nomads for a millenni[um]," Pantaeva writes, "and in time their blood compelled me across the world." As a child in the U.S.S.R., Pantaeva repeatedly rebelled against the Stalinist educational system, while struggling to maintain a strong bond with her parents, who worked in the theater and subsisted through the long Siberian winters on a diet of cabbage and carrots. Early on, it becomes clear to Pantaeva that she wants more, and she soon embarks on an arduous journey--narrated here as a comedy of errors--from a local fashion house to Moscow's Gorky studios, a kind of Soviet Disney Co. (at one point, she even meets up with the Dalai Lama). Pantaeva finally arrives, penniless, in Paris with dreams of modeling for a famous couturier and manages to catch the eye of Karl Lagerfeld, but not before hearing most of the fashion cognoscenti deride her "exotic" beauty. That was the early '90s, however, when waifs and grunge were the order of the day. By the final chapter, tastes have changed, and an ethnic chic has swept Pantaeva onto the runways, as she marries her soulmate in New York in the wake of the collapse of the oppressive government that drove her away. (Sept.) FYI: In 1995, Pantaeva was the subject of a New Yorker profile by novelist Jay McInerney.
Library Journal - Library Journal
The story of a supermodel from Siberia.
L.S. Klepp
...[P]antaeva is no ordinary model....she is actually an enchanting one--so much so that you have to wonder if some of her anecdotes, ranging from amorous to occult, are too good to be true. --Entertainment Weekly
Kirkus Reviews
Pantaeva, an Eskimo raised in Siberia who quickly shot from being a little girl with big dreams to a young woman with an international modeling career, spins a fantastic biographical saga out of an impressive store of encounters. From serving tea to the Dalai Lama in Russia to flopping down the streets of Manhattan in a pair of sneakers borrowed from fashion photographer Irving Penn, Pantaeva has made an adventure-filled trip to superstardom. Spurred through an arduous early life in a poor Siberian city by a strong sense of her own potential, a supportive family, and an uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time, Pantaeva colorfully sketches a mystical account of her journey to success. The story is intriguing partly because she deals with the themes that shaped her identity—her Buryat Eskimo heritage, her belief in the power of fate—instead of bragging about the glamour of the camera or complaining about the hardships of her formative years. There are, however, two faults that detract from the overall presentation. First, events are often jumbled and disjointedly strung together, making it difficult for readers to discern the exact location or the date of an episode. Second, Pantaeva frequently substitutes understanding gained through hindsight for her original unfiltered experiences; for example, when she describes her early childhood, she expresses a deeper understanding of events than it's believable that a three-year-old could have. But once Pantaeva's ability to express herself catches up with her predilection for finding tremendous importance in the smallest gestures, this discontinuity disappears. Pantaeva's vignettes possess an appealinglyimprovisational quality that conveys how tenuously connected episodes can eventually congeal into a recognizable theme. Though technically an autobiography, Siberian Dream reads more like an intriguing fairy tale.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780380975549
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/28/1998
Pages:
309
Product dimensions:
6.04(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.28(d)

What People are saying about this

Michael Gross
Michael Gross, author of Model
Irina Pantaeva writes as beautifully as she is stunningly beautiful, and her saga of moving from the impossible poverty of Soviet Siberia to the delicious freedoms of the fashion capitals of the world is not only inspiring, but also a great read. The message most models give out is 'look but don't touch.' With Siberian Dream, Irina asks us to look and be touched, instead.
Jay McInerney
A beautiful memoir�a contemporary fairytale played out against the fall of the Soviet Empire that begins in an ancient pantheist society and ends on the glossy pages of Vogue. If I didn't know Irina, I'd have a hard time believing in her existence.
Issey Miyake
From the first time I met Irina, I was intrigued both by her beauty as well as by the air of mystery she projects. As I have come to know her, I also admire her for her intelligence and sense of curiosity. She is a rare combination.

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