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'Russian snegurochka': the history of the Soviet model, who conquered the world and became the wife of a millionaire


Source: ""

The objects of admiration for millions of men, they traveled abroad and bought imported clothing. They walked on the catwalk, and their photo sessions were published in Soviet and foreign magazines. However, the question arises: were these relative privileges worth the price paid for them? In the article "" we will talk about Mila Romanovskaya: she successfully endured all the difficulties of Soviet life and unsuccessful marriages, emigrated, moved from country to country and eventually met her “handsome prince”. Abroad Milu was called 'russian snegurochka' and 'beryozka'.

Photo: video screenshot YouTube / TV Center

From college to the podium

There was nothing unusual in the childhood and youth of Mila Romanovskaya: “standard parameters” for so many girls born in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Evacuation, difficult half-starved war years, the loss of fathers. In the case of Mila, evacuation for her and her mother (the sailor’s wife) turned out to be a blessing: the family lived in Leningrad, and if at the very beginning of the war mother and daughter would not have evacuated to safe Kuibyshev (now Samara), they would hardly have managed to survive the war.

The future star of the catwalk was lucky in that her father did not die at the front. However, a long separation from his wife destroyed his marriage. When the mother and Mila returned from the evacuation and the war ended, the family did not reunite: the father went to another woman. Legally, the parents of the future model filed for divorce only when Mila was already a teenager (in the 1940-1950s it was more difficult in the USSR than now), but in fact the girl grew up without a father.

Romanovskaya herself had to arrange her life, not counting on parental, especially paternal, support. It wasn’t so easy to enter a university in those years (students didn’t pay for higher education), and after school Mila went to an electromechanical college to quickly get a specialty and the opportunity to earn a living.

However, like many girls of those times, she dreamed not of a modest existence for a working salary, but of a beautiful, vibrant and - what a sin to hide - wealthy life. Such that it was not necessary to save a few months for a pair of shoes, and then humiliatingly "get" them through familiar sellers or from speculators, who could also deceive them. Mila was a slender and beautiful young girl, she wanted to dress smartly, sew dresses of good fabric, not written-off parachutes, and be able to flaunt in foreign things.

Becoming an artist was a good way to arrange a decent life. And Romanovskaya, in her own words, in various interviews that she gave in her mature years, dreamed of entering the Leningrad Conservatory. However, she had neither outstanding artistic abilities nor, as they said then, “blat” to get into this prestigious educational institution. The girl could only help her catchy beauty: blond hair (blondes were very fashionable) and a slender figure.

Actually, the figure made Mile a career. Among the friends of a modest student at a technical school was a fashion model. Once the girl got sick, and in order not to disrupt the show in which she needed to participate, she asked Romanovskaya, who had exactly the same figure, to replace her. Mila helped her friend and pulled out her lucky ticket. The organizers of the show appreciated the debutant who walked the catwalk as if she had been doing this all her life.

Romanovskaya was invited to work in the Leningrad House of Models. After the Moscow and Riga Houses, this was perhaps the most prestigious institution of its kind in the USSR. A few weeks after the employment of a dream, the girls began to come true: she went on her first trip abroad. So far not to Paris and not to Rome, but only to neighboring Finland. However, it was, as they used to say, a “capital country” where one could see a life that was fundamentally different from Soviet life - if not half-starved, then at least not luxurious.

Between love and career

Romanovskaya did not enter the conservatory. However, Mila could not do without artistry: from the age of 18 she met a young man named Vladimir, who studied at VGIK. It was, obviously, young love and the desire to approach prestigious bohemian circles. In the middle of the century, free romantic relations were not accepted in the USSR. “Decent girls”, if they wanted to lead an intimate life with their lovers, they should have married them. Mila and Volodya got married, and the couple moved to Moscow, where a freshly baked young husband studied.

Romanovskaya tried to get a job at the Moscow House of Models. For a novice fashion model, albeit with the experience of traveling abroad, it was not so simple: the competition was just monstrous. In addition, there was a natural pause in Mila's career: they had a daughter, Anastasia, with Vladimir. The situation in the family was difficult: Romanovskaya’s husband was expelled from the university, the child, like all children, created different problems - diapers, cutting teeth, and childhood diseases.

Photo: video screenshot YouTube / TV Center

Mila had to endure a very difficult time, but she emerged from the trials as a winner: she was hired by the Model House. She had to travel abroad, and all the “trips” to the USSR could not pass by the attention of the KGB - especially if it was a question of the most beautiful women of the country.

According to the fashion model, she was invited several times by people from the Lubyanka. But she, on the advice of experienced acquaintances and her husband, pretended to be a silly young woman who did not understand anything, and “cooperation” with the authorities did not work. So, in any case, the case was according to Mila herself.

The attention of men to his wife annoyed her husband Romanovskaya, and gradually conflicts in the family began to become more frequent. Vladimir did not become a successful person and could not provide his wife the standard of living, albeit adjusted for Soviet conditions, to which she aspired. The relationship between husband and wife went wrong, and they divorced.

Tough competition

The fashion model has completely surrendered to her career. In the Model House, Romanovskaya immediately rose to the very top of the unspoken model hierarchy and led it, becoming the second “uncrowned queen” of the Soviet podium. The first was her main competitor Regina Zbarskaya, a fatal brunette with catchy southern beauty - either French or Italian. Although the girls had different roles (blonde Mila personified the characteristic "Russian type"), they still competed.

Sometimes competition came to conflicts. The climax in the Soviet bohemian circles was the story with the dress “Russia”, which the most beautiful fashion model of the USSR was supposed to present at the international exhibition of light industry in Montreal. The creation of fashion designer Tatyana Osmerkina was an unusual synthesis of Western trends in the 1960s and Russian traditions. A straight scarlet maxi dress with long wide sleeves on her chest was decorated with a necklace that was lush and patterned bead and glass bead embroidery in tone: either royal tights, or priestly vestments, or an allusion to an old girl’s sundress.

Initially, Zbarskaya was supposed to demonstrate the dress. However, the fashion designer and officials from the Model House changed their mind, rightly assuming that a light-eyed blonde with long hair is more likely to be associated with Russia in Europe and overseas than a burning brunette with a short haircut. The honor to present the dress in Canada went to Romanovskaya. The model made a splash: she was nicknamed Snegurochka, as the heroine of the famous Rimsky-Korsakov opera.

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Photo: video screenshot YouTube / TV Center

A photographer from American Life came to Moscow to conduct a photo shoot in the Kremlin. Mila in embroidered scarlet dress posed in the interiors of the legendary Assumption Cathedral, where all Russian tsars were crowned. Her photographs appeared on the pages of the most prestigious American weekly. It was the climax of Romanovskaya’s success and, in fact, world fame.

Another a la Russe-style outfit that went around the western editions - a trapezoidal light mini dress with a lionfish, lined with golden shreds, and a wide, rounded to the bottom strip, embroidered with gold, like a priestly epitrachil, provided her with the nickname Russian Twiggy. Fragile, with slim legs in golden flat-bottomed boots, she really looked like a British supermodel of the 1960s.

Escape from the USSR

Mila Romanovskaya became a world-famous fashion model. At home, she was credited with an affair with one of the most talented Soviet actors - Andrei Mironov. True or not, it is unknown, but even if Mila met with the idol of romantic girls and inveterate theater-goers, this story did not end with marriage. But the practical Romanovskaya understood that the age of the fashion model was short and that one could secure a decent future only by successfully marrying.

At a banquet in the Artist’s House, fate brought the model to the chart with Yuri Kuperman. He was not widely known or very rich, but he had the advantage as a groom: he was a Jew and could emigrate and take his family along the “Jewish line”. Mila and Yuri got married and left the USSR in 1972.

Of course, this departure was not an escape in the style of Baryshnikov: the artist with his wife and stepdaughter received a completely legal permission to emigrate to Israel. Romanovskaya got a job by profession in an Israeli company. However, in the historical homeland, Kuperman, who reduced his name to Cooper, was not going to linger.

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Photo: video screenshot YouTube / TV Center

After some bureaucratic delays (Israel did not encourage the further emigration of new immigrants), Mila and her daughter and Yuri managed to move to London, where Romanovskaya participated in the shows of Dior and Givenchy, and also worked as a typist on the BBC. Cooperman for some time could not get on his feet: in London he was unlucky. The artist decided to try his luck in a more “artistic” Paris, where he settled, opened a workshop and gradually began to earn more and more. But his marriage to Mila could not stand the test of distance. Cooper met another woman and divorced Romanovskaya.

However, the romantic story of Russian Twiggy ended on a completely major note. Having lived for some time as a free woman and received a certificate of translator, Romanovskaya flew to Cooper in Paris to complete the divorce proceedings. On the way back, Mila came under, as they say now, “overbooking”: for her there was no place in the economy class of the aircraft. The airline transplanted the model into a business class, where its rich neighbor Douglas Edwards turned out to be his neighbor in the chair. For a short flight to London, he realized that he had been looking for this woman all his life.

Three months after meeting, Edwards married Romanovskaya. She finally parted with a modeling career and began to help her husband in doing business.

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