By Michelle Konstantinovsky
If today’s crop of social media stars has you thinking elite fashionistas exclusively prefer Snapchat to substance, think again. A 10-minute chat with the San Francisco-based, Russian-born model will effectively squash those stereotypes. “You can’t understand fashion without developing your mind,” the book lover and haute couture collector says.
Tatiana Sorokko’s educational pursuits are no joke. After all, the daughter of nuclear scientists was pursuing an advanced physics degree when she was recruited for the Paris runways at 18. Rather than abandoning all academic affairs, Sorokko enrolled in New York University fashion and art history courses upon moving to the States a few years later. When the scholar-slash-cover girl wasn’t studying, she spent the ’90s strutting catwalks for industry icons like Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Alexander McQueen, Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein and Donna Karan.
One way Sorokko has cultivated the lifelong love affair with learning is through voracious reading. She’s currently juggling Susan Jaques’ The Empress of Art: Catherine the Great and the Transformation of Russia, and a biography of ambassador William Bullitt. Her self-imposed curriculum is year-round; she also takes summer courses at Oxford University on everything from Shakespearean sonnets to British history.
But between scholastic pursuits and world travels with gallerist husband Serge, Sorokko does still find time to keep up appearances “Of course I believe in maintenance,” she says. “You can’t go through your life not doing anything and then wake up in your 40s thinking, I need to get everything done. It doesn’t work like that.” Still, she believes true beauty comes from within: “Being secure in one’s self is the best fashion accessory.”
Here’s how Sorokko stays secure in mind, body and spirit:
Learning Curve: Besides being a bookworm, Sorokko is an avid fan of live events and art exhibits. She’s a regular at the Nourse Theater’s City Arts & Lectures Series (Sally Mann and Salman Rushdie are among her favorite speakers), and she’s a proud member of the Asian Art Museum. She particularly loves the popular Tour, Talk & Tea and Tales & Cocktails events which explore subjects like Buddhist art and the history of jade in jewelry design.
Work That Face: Sorokko is serious about skincare. She alternates between two trusted specialists: Kristina Holey and Spa Radiance’s Angelina Umansky. “My focus is on creating strong, balanced skin,” Holey says, noting that Sorokko’s treatments consist of intense facial massage to boost circulation and decrease inflammation ($350 for new clients). “It’s like a workout for your face,” Sorokko raves. “I’m a total addict.” Umansky then steps in with the machinery, performing the Biologique Recherché Quadruple Lift Facial, a hydrating four-layer-deep microcurrent massage ($682.50). Umansky calls it “one of my favorite treatments.”
Body Talk: Balance, strength and flexibility are central to Sorokko’s fitness regimen. In addition to attending regular classes at Mill Valley’s Pilates ProWorks, she also does private Reposturing sessions with practitioner Joshua Solla. Years spent contorting into modelesque poses took a toll on Sorokko’s body, but she says Solla has helped tremendously. Finally, personal training with Kristin La Fontaine Fiore rounds out Sorokko’s routine. “Kristin takes a holistic approach, infusing different techniques into our workouts,” she says. “For me, she uses a combination of Vinyasa flow yoga, mat Pilates and weight training.” To unwind, Sorokko relies on massage therapist Jennifer Boardman to work some muscle magic with Lomilomi, a Hawaiian-style deep tissue technique.
Ice Queen: When she’s not stretching and toning, Sorokko is busy freezing—literally. “I do once a month cryotherapy for the whole body at CryoSF on Union Street,” she says. “It’s incredible—it takes inflammation out of your body and makes recovery time so much faster. And for a girl born in Russia, it gives me the super freezing temperature I crave—but only in three-minute intervals; that’s the maximum I can take now!”
Jet Set Style: As an experienced globetrotter, Sorokko’s developed an expert survival strategy for travel: hibernation. “I don’t drink or eat anything while I’m in the air—I try not to do much, just sleep.” Preflight nutrition and hydration is key to avoiding midair bloat, Sorokko says, and adequate shut-eye before and after takeoff ensures a jetlag-free landing. Her carry-on is also stocked with tried and true tools of the trade, including Biocean Hypertonic Seawater Solution Supplements to balance electrolytes ($40.50 for a pack of 30 at plasmaquinton.com), and 8G dissolving tablets to boost collagen and balance pH ($12.50 for a tube of 10 at 8greens.com). Her one must-have beauty item? Embryolisse Laboratories Secret de Maquilleurs. “This is the absolute best product to reduce puffiness and under-eye wrinkles while traveling,” she says. “I learned about it from an Air France stewardess who looked unbelievably bright-eyed after our very long flight” ($35 at