Photography by Jason McDonald

Valentina Zelyaeva


| Gramercy

You know when you’re wandering the city streets only to look up at that inevitable Ralph Lauren billboard of a golden-tressed bombshell? The one whose perfectly undone button-down and cascading skirt make you fall in love all over again with classic American sportswear? That would be none other than Valentina Zelyaeva. The face of Ralph Lauren for over a decade, Zelyaeva was discovered when she entered a modeling contest at the age of 18. Since then, she’s graced the pages of top fashion glossies like Vogue, ELLE and Harper’s Bazaar and walked the runways for high-profile fashion houses including Balenciaga, Christian Dior, Lanvin and Valentino. Here, she sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal her little black book on NYC.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: For a healthy raw organic meal, I go to Pure Food and Wine (*Location now closed) and usually get a glass of cucumber juice and a large salad with greens, veggies and sprouts and some avocado on the side.

COFFEE OR TEA: Coffee at Irving Farm (MAP IT, x). It’s a very quaint place with a charming atmosphere and a great selection of premium coffee beans.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: ABC Kitchen (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) is my favorite restaurant for a great lunch. All of their ingredients are local and seasonal. I love their carrot salad and pea soup.

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: A bellini at Cipriani (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x).

GIRL’S NIGHT OUT: My girlfriends and I usually go to Mari Vanna (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) which is an authentic Russian restaurant that reminds me of home. Afterwards, we always go to karaoke and sing till 4 am somewhere in Koreatown!

MUSIC PICK: I love Smalls Jazz Club in the West Village (MAP IT, x). Nothing compares to live jazz.

DATE NIGHT STANDBY: My fiancé and I love to go to Sushi Yasuda (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x). I believe it’s one of the best Japanese restaurants in the city. We enjoy their quiet atmosphere, excellent sashimi and sake.

BEST BRUNCH: I like to go to Gemma (MAP IT, x) for Sunday brunch; I always bump into someone I know and we end up going for a nice walk in SoHo.


HEALTHY STAPLE: Ootoya (MAP IT, x) for a set with salmon which comes with brown rice, miso soup, pickles and kabocha squash.

GUILTY PLEASURE: I love pasta! I go to Eataly (MAP IT, x) for excellent cacio e pepe.

NY’S BEST-KEPT SECRET: The East Village is full of culinary gems; I love all Japanese restaurants there, especially Kyo Ya (MAP IT, x).

FIRST THING I MISS WHEN I’M AWAY: The wide selection of vegan, vegetarian and raw organic restaurants and juice bars that can be found on almost every block. I also miss the ability to walk anywhere I need to get to.

REGULAR AT: A few! I go to the same person at Shibui Spa (MAP IT, x) every week for a great deep tissue massage. Jivamukti Yoga studio (MAP IT, x) is my second home which also has a great vegan café and Great Jones Spa (MAP IT, x) has an amazing sauna and steam room that I like to go to to sweat out toxins.

CLOSET CHECK: My personal style is pretty classic with a bit of a modern twist— sexy but never too provocative. I go to the Ralph Lauren store on Madison Avenue (MAP IT). Their staff is always helpful and I find pieces that are timeless and will be in my closet forever.

ACCESSORIES PICK: I love accessories. I prefer delicate gold jewelry with gemstones or crystals. I go to the ABC Carpet & Home (MAP IT, x) for pretty little necklaces or bracelets.

BEAUTY BLACK BOOK: Isabelle Bellis (MAP IT, x) if you’re looking for an amazing facial.

FIT PICK: I practice yoga at Jivamukti Yoga where I like to take Rima’s classes. I just went to The Class (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) for the first time which was a lot of fun, and I think I will become a regular now. I’ve also worked out at Nago Academy (MAP IT, x) with a personal trainer, Leonardo, for a few years now.

ULTIMATE NY MOMENT: Last week there was an opening of a new Polo store, and the day before, Ralph Lauren threw a big event at Central Park where he showed an entire Polo fashion show in 4D format that was projected on the fountain. It was one of those moments when you think “Wow! Only in New York!” CP

Valentina’s New York

From L to R: First Row: Breakfast at Pure Food & Wine; ABC Carpet & Home rug; Fresh market items at ABC Kitchen; The Class by TT. Second Row: Zelyaeva; ABC Kitchen tomato toast; Irving Farm coffee; Omakase at Sushi Yasuda.


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