The camera loves Merilin completely, she doesn’t have any bad angles. Her presence is royal – cool but sensitive and caring. Bystanders know that this is exactly the perfect type for Tanel and Aldo, like she stepped down from an old painting. Merilin was a decade away from Estonia, modeling on world stages, for example for Calvin Klein, Prada and Oscar de la Renta. Her pictures have decorated the pages of Dazed & Confused, Vogue and Elle. Fortunately for the Estonian fashion arena, Merilin is now back home in a big circle. 🙂 There are not many top performers like her, with huge baggage, and since more and more mature beauty is in the price, we are extremely grateful to Merilin for sharing her beauty with us.
Merilin in the magazine ELLE
You were discovered in 2008 - do you remember that moment? Did you know what to expect in the future? What did you dream about then?
I was discovered on the streets of Tallinn when I was only 12 years old. At the time, I was still considered too young, but only a year later I sent my pictures to the EMA modeling agency and I was on my way to my first trip to Japan. At the age of 13, I was full of youthful naivety and perseverance and couldn’t imagine what was ahead of me. However, after several successful trips to different countries, I had the hope that I could be successful in this career. At the same time, I never dared to set too many dreams, because the competition in modeling is very intense and few people succeed.
Aldo and Tanel captured 14 year old Merilin for the first time in 2008
When you got to discover the world as a young model - what were your first steps? How did you avoid the reefs?
My first trip to Tokyo was at the age of 13 and completely alone. From there, trips came to Milan, Paris, and when I was 15, I flew to New York for the first time. A year later, I participated in fashion weeks in all four cities. It cannot be said that no difficult moments arose during all this. I was also a school student at the same time, and at some point I experienced burnout while balancing my work and school. But through this painful lesson, I realized how important it is to take time for myself, to have hobbies that are joyful, and to take care of my mental and physical health, among other things. Meditation and yoga were important helpers in overcoming difficult moments.
Looking back - what have been the brightest and happiest moments of your career?
There have been many of these moments. Although participating in fashion weeks was very difficult both physically and mentally, the opportunity to walk on big stages for brands like Calvin Klein, Chanel, etc. is an unforgettable experience that is hard to describe. Also meeting legends like Vogue’s editor Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld who was the Chanel’s chief designer at the time. A few years ago, I also had the opportunity to take part in the MET Galal Comme des Garcons, where, following the parade of stars, my knees started shaking. But not to mention the feeling of happiness that you experience when you land in a completely new country and get a chance to discover a new culture and new people.
Photos: Ele Rieberg-Meiel
What have these years of modeling given you?
It has been a unique experience that has far-reaching implications. Starting at such a young age in such a tough world, one must quickly become independent, cultivate thick skin and form an unshakable self-confidence. In addition, the opportunity to visit the most incredible places. I recommend everyone to try to travel alone because it forces you to look inside yourself, and get along well with yourself, and when you get into unexpected situations, you are only forced to get through them.
What is the most annoying part of modeling?
The most difficult thing about modeling is the lack of a stable home and circle of friends. It seems that you only live in airports and on planes and are alone all the time. If you form a friendship in one place, you will probably never see them again when you leave. I also started at a time when there was no internet connection on the phones and it was difficult to call home from abroad. Today, fortunately, it is much easier to keep in touch with loved ones.
What myths in the fashion world aren't true at all? 🙂
There has been a lot of talk about the fact that models’ lives are not as glamorous as they seem. It is no secret that I have also had the opportunity to spend the night in gorgeous hotels and meet many world-famous stars, but I often have to live in a small apartment with ten other models every day, and the day is spent driving to the castings on the subways and buses. Secondly, I would point out the opinion that many people have – that our job is just posing in front of the camera, and it’s all terribly easy. In reality, it is a very demanding job, both physically and mentally. There have been working days that last up to 24 hours in a row, and this usually requires you to be on your feet all the time, hundreds of clothes changes, and all this at a very fast pace. There may be dozens of castings in a few days, often starting early in the morning and lasting until late at night, weekends usually do not exist. Participating in castings also requires spiritual strength, as you will experience only a few positive answers among hundreds of people, and often very direct and harsh criticism.
Merilin in Tanel's silk kaftan and hoodie set
Today you are learning health care (specify) - why did you make this choice?
True, I have started to study health management at Tallinn University. Both physical and mental health are closely related to modelling, so the choice of a health manager was a natural move. A healthy diet and exercise are important for the model to stay in good shape, of course, but also to endure long working days and have energy and be bright even in late-night castings. It has also been very important to take care of mental health, as the days go by in a hurry and under great stress, work is often done at the expense of sleep and there is little time left, and through all this, self-confidence and a positive attitude must be maintained.
The topic of health is natural and close to you, you follow your diet and also practice yoga. Which topics are closest to your heart? Because it is such a worldview choice - what would you like to change in the world in the future through your profession?
Yoga has really been a love for me from the first downward facing dog and warrior. I even went so far as to study to be a coach myself. Yoga has taught me to be much more aware of both my body and my inner world. In addition, it is the best way to spend time actively with yourself. It is also suitable for absolutely everyone and does not require any previous sports background. So I encourage everyone to do yoga! My second big passion is a conscious, varied and clean diet. Unfortunately, diseases caused by unhealthy lifestyles have become an epidemic all over the world and the situation is getting worse. So I have taken the promotion of conscious nutrition as my little heart’s desire, and I want to help people to make healthier choices, which in turn will lead to a full and long life.