Gorgeous inside and out, Ilona is even more captivating in person than she is in our Spring Summer photoshoot. So we sat down with her between locations to find out what she can’t live without, where she will be holidaying this summer and what inspires her every day. Oh, and discovered she speaks 7 languages.
BINNY Where are you from?
ILONA NOVACEK I was born in Australia and my background is half Czech and half Croatian.
Binny How did you start modelling?
Ilona I was first discovered when I was 11 years old. I was on the way to the Olympics with my cousins and my Aunty and this gorgeous woman from London who was a stylist gave my Aunty a business card to go and see an agency in Sydney. At the time I was a tom boy, I was only 11, I wasn’t really aware of anything, all I knew was that I was tall and lanky. So we went to the agency and they were really receptive and said they wanted to take me on and then they asked me how old I was. I told them I was 11 and they weren’t expecting that at all, they thought I was at least 13 or 14, so they told me to come back and see them in a couple of years. Then the same thing happened with another scout about two years later and he gave me the same agency’s card so I finally went in and officially stared modelling when I was 13.
Binny What does a day in the life of Ilona look like?
Ilona It is so variable! Most days consist of being on a photoshoot of some sort. A shoot can start at any time, for example 6am to capture the sunrise on location and sometimes it’s 15 hour days. How we start is I arrive at the studio and there will be a team and we will do hair and makeup while I read the brief about what the mood is, what we’re shooting, what the specific look is, which has been put together by the art director and the client. And then we shoot! Sometimes its 100 shots a day, sometimes its 10 shots, depending on what we’re shooting.
Binny What are you passionate about?
Ilona I am passionate about a lot of things. My passions involve travelling, I love travelling, I am fascinated by the world. I am passionate about culture, wellbeing, health, learning and constantly evolving. Having started modelling at such a young age I’ve been exposed to so much, I started travelling when I was 14 and so it’s going on 12 years now. I am passionate about life. I’ve always been intrigued by everyday things, being a studio, being in a foreign country, learning a new language, anything that keeps me stimulated and keep me growing.
Binny Do you speak another language?
Ilona Yes, I speak several languages. I learnt English and then Czech so they were my first languages. Then I learnt Portuguese in New York and Spanish, Italian, German and French.
Binny Who is your role model?
Ilona The first person who comes to mind is Giselle. I love her, I think she is a beautiful model, she has a beautiful spirit and soul and she is very inspiring. But then I am inspired by so many different people, my mum – my mum is definitely a role model, she is a beautiful woman. You meet beautiful role models every day, just seeing someone who has something special about them.
Binny What has been your most amazing job?
Ilona There have been so many incredible shoots! Hard to say it's one in particular however being on the cover of Spanish Vogue is definitely a career highlight.
Binny And most bizarre job?
Ilona I'm lucky to say that I have had a pretty smooth run and nothing too freaky. However I was on a job for a big TV ad and we started the shoot at lunch time, it was a massive production- the directors were quite out there and decided to start having a party mid-way through the shoot. Then they left the set to go out and returned 24 hours later! Meanwhile all the talent was just on standby. That was a first to be on set for 24 hours in such a setting! Looking back now I find it quite hilarious and actually grateful for the ‘out-of-this-world’ experience!
Binny What won’t you compromise on?
Ilona I will not compromise on a lot of things! My standards, I have my standards in terms of health, safety, professionalism and my values.
Binny Top 3 things in your handbag?
Ilona My phone obviously! My phone has my email, music, everything. Water, I can’t live without water. And the other thing is funny, breath refresher – you never know when you’ll need that!
Binny Favourite summer holiday destination?
Ilona Ohhh that’s such a good question! One of the most recent trips I did was to Sardinia and that was absolutely amazing. I love Sardinia, it was always a dream of mine to go there and I was lucky enough to go there on a job. So that’s definitely one of them! However I feel like my dream destination is going to be Ibiza, I can feel it! I feel like my soul is from there.
Binny Must have piece for summer?
Ilona Good question. I really adore these pants (King Momo Palazzo Pant), wide leg, blue stripe, amazing. I can see myself wearing these in Santorini and Ibiza with a cute little tank and it’s effortless, it’s chic and beautiful.
Binny When you travel; window or aisle?
Ilona That’s a really good question. I would say for long distance definitely window because when you’re on the aisle people have to dodge you but when you’re in the window seat you can rest, it’s a bit more private. But sometimes for short distance, the aisle is less claustrophobic and you can just get in and out quickly.
Binny What do you do to relax?
Ilona I love good music, I love coming home, having a shower, putting on beautiful soft cotton and putting nice music on in the house and singing. I love going for big long walks at the end of the day, and going for a swim in the ocean, just getting outdoors and being in nature. I find that really relaxing. And of course, a nice glass of red wine.
Binny What’s your approach to social media?
Ilona I believe we are in 2017 and it’s a must. I feel like it’s a great tool for business and I feel like it’s important to keep up with the times and constantly evolve. So my view on social media is that I do have it and I do use it, however I think there is a fine line. You asked me what I wouldn’t compromise on, I would never compromise or expose myself to get more followers. I feel like I understand it (social media) and I know what it’s worth but I just feel like it has such a strong influence on the youth and I can see what it’s doing. We’re becoming very disconnected as a society; we are well connected to social media but our world is so unsocial at the same time. I feel like if you’re mindful about it, it’s a great tool and embrace the opportunities you can through it.
Binny Seaside or countryside?
Ilona Seaside. Definitely. I love the ocean.
Binny What’s next for you?
Ilona I am still working as a model and travelling and I see myself doing this for a few more years to come. And I plan to take each day as it comes and continue to evolve and grow and I think it’s always good to keep a few things to yourself.
Binny Tell me a secret….
Ilona It wouldn’t be a secret if I told you!