Milla was only eleven years old when she shot her first Revlon ad in 1987. The photographer: none other than the iconic Richard Avedon. In her own words: "He was very instrumental in launching my career." Following her ad debut, Milla took her place on the cover of Lei magazine also in 1987. This was her first ever cover of a magazine, shot by another icon, Herb Ritts. In her own words: "Herb was the first notable photographer to book me and it all took off from there. He was really an incredible human being, and very kind with me.” In 1988, she worked with Avedon again for the cover of Mademoiselle. The magazine wasn’t sure if they should run the cover, but Richard insisted after they realized that she was only eleven years old. Her cover streak continued with Seventeen Magazine. In her own words: "Seventeen Magazine was fun for me because as a pre-teen I was buying each edition and getting ideas about life as an American Teen!"
From Child to Young Woman
Milla began to work closely with the photographer Peter Lindbergh in the early 1990s."Peter first photographed me at the age of thirteen and we have been collaborating ever since. For me, Peter is very special. Not only is he beyond talented, but he is perhaps the kindest photographer one could ever hope to shoot with. I love the way he sees women and feel honored to have a lifetime photo journal shot by the master! He is like a father to me." Another photographer who Milla calls a friend is Steven Meisel. She cites their shoot together for Vogue Italia in 1995 as one of her all-time favorite portraits over the span of her career.
Milla made her acting debut in Return to the Blue Lagoon in 1991, but her acting career really took off with The Fifth Element in 1997. She says that this film was her “transition from child actor to young woman…It also set me on the course to becoming a female action hero.” John Galliano designed the costumes for the film, which she said was a lot of fun.
Becoming a Household Name
In the 1995/96 season, Milla made her catwalk debut. She only walked for the one season, but she managed to book some high caliber shows such as Miu Miu, which she says is one of her all-time favorite brands. Milla started to become a household name in 1996 with her Gap campaign. “The images from this Gap campaign are personal favorites of mine, and a campaign that I'm proud to have been a part of. I was often stopped on the street about it by fans who connected with the images.”
Successful Career, Successful Comeback
She continued to earn her status as a true star with her Anna Molinari campaign shot by Juergen Teller in 1997. "Working with Juergen is always a moment to remember. I had shot campaigns for Anna Molinari since I was a child, but the series of campaigns I shot with the very talented Juergen are some of my favorite campaigns from my career. The extraordinary Sam McKnight did the hair, and I think the result of the overall image is truly special." Milla had a chance to explore her more masculine side with her shoot for Versace in 1999 with Bruce Weber. “Donatella was there during the shoot and she reassured me that even though I was dressed like a boy, I still looked beautiful!" With her status as a beautiful young woman solidified, Milla made her re-entry into the business with a bang. After three years away from fashion, she landed the Calvin Klein Escape campaign. Following her comeback, she also starred in Chanel ads. “Shooting ads for Chanel can only be described as an honor and even a rite of passage in the fashion industry.”
Back to the Big Screen
Milla returned to the big screen with Resident Evil; which ultimately changed her life. "When I first heard that Resident Evil was being made into a film I really wanted to meet the director. At the time my little brother and I were having fun together playing the video game and I thought, 'wouldn't he love to see me as a character in the film adaptation....' Little did I know that the film would become a successful franchise because I never thought that far ahead. I also never imagined falling in love with Paul W.S. Anderson, the films director and that he would one day become my husband and the father of my children. Life is really amazing and I would be a fool not to recognize the blessings I have received."
a decade of glory
In her campaign for Dior Hypnotic Poison Fragrance, Milla got to play a sorceress with a floating perfume bottle. The campaign ran for a total of ten years!
Front and Center
Her career continued to flourish in the 2000s with her campaigns for Donna Karan and Marella, and many other covers for publications such as Elle and Vs magazine. More recently, one can see Milla as the star of the Isabel Marant x H&M campaign. “I love Isabel Marant as a designer! It’s always a thrill to be asked to shoot a campaign for a designer who I admire so deeply.”
A look back
Milla has covered many issues of Vogue, both in America and internationally. “It is an honor to find yourself on the cover of any edition of Vogue magazine. I see so many women in this business that, to be honest, I find more beautiful than myself. So if Vogue sees something in me worth of landing on their cover, I am happy to take that compliment!”
From her preternatural modeling debut at age twelve with Richard Avedon and a seventeen year tenure with renowned cosmetics brands, to starring roles in indi coming-of-age films and record-breaking box office franchises, Milla Jovovich has proven her undeniable status as a super-human supermodel and actress.