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Madlena Kalinova

Model, Stylist, Producer, Humanitarian & Creator
Madlena Kalinova wearing Serengeti Citron Dress

⁠Could you share a brief overview of your background and what motivates you personally and professionally?

My name is Madlena Kalinova, and I originate from Bulgaria. With over 22 years of experience as an international model, I've had the privilege of residing in numerous fashion capitals including Milan, Paris, Istanbul, Miami, and Hamburg.

My journey into production began a decade ago when Harpers Bazaar sought to feature me in an editorial in Bulgaria, which unfortunately, I couldn't attend. Undeterred, I proposed producing the shoot in NYC, thereby launching my production career. Not only did I produce, manage, and model for the shoot, but I also secured the cover, marking the inception of my production career. Since then, I have locally produced for renowned magazines and showcased other models in my productions. Alongside, I have honed my skills in styling, incorporating it into several of my productions since 2018, although it remains more of a passion project for me. 

Fluent in five languages, I seamlessly navigate international production teams. My passion for animals, nature, and philanthropy led me to become an Ambassador for the Georgie Badiel Foundation, a water-focused organization. In recognition of my dedication to creating awareness and fundraising for the foundation, I was honored with the Hope Award in 2019. Subsequently, in 2022, I was offered a position on Georgie's team, deepening my involvement with the organization to this day. 

Additionally, I was a Compassion Angel for Compassion Is Beautiful, a charity dedicated to aiding dogs and cats in shelters. Guided by the belief that "we are all connected, and we all need help at one point or another," I endeavor to contribute positively wherever and whenever possible.

⁠How did you cross paths with Nilufer?

I first crossed paths with Nilu over a decade ago on the set of a shoot, alongside our mutual friend and my mentor, Ab Sessay. Nilu, who was styling the shoot, struck me not only as the epitome of kindness but also as a symbol of strength and independence, despite hailing from Turkey, my neighboring country. Her blend of resilience, soft femininity and sense of effortless style instantly resonated with me, forging an immediate connection between us.

 Nilufer Bracco and Madlena Kalinova seating in the sofa

⁠You're known for your involvement with the Georgie Badiel Foundation. Could you elaborate on the foundation's goals and your role within the organization?

Since around 2015, I've been deeply engaged with the Georgie Badiel Foundation, spurred by my close friendship with Georgie, stemming from our modeling days. Upon hearing her poignant narrative of growing up without access to clean water in Burkina Faso, including her sister's arduous daily trek for water while heavily pregnant, I was moved to offer my assistance in any capacity. When Georgie expressed her desire to establish the foundation to construct a water well in her grandmother's village, I pledged my support wholeheartedly.

Our inaugural event took place in a friend's penthouse in NY, where Georgie entrusted me with a microphone to solicit donations and introduce attendees. From that moment onward, I've been actively involved, volunteering to host every subsequent event. In 2022, I assumed the roles of CMO and Director of Partnerships, deepening my commitment to the foundation's mission. 

Could you recount a memorable success story from the foundation's work in enhancing access to clean water and sanitation in Burkina Faso?

Georgie initiated a Women's Empowerment Program, devising a curriculum focused on basic engineering studies. We began by instructing two women from every village where we constructed wells on how to maintain and repair them. This initiative not only provided valuable education but also created career opportunities for these women. In Burkina Faso, where women and young girls typically bear the responsibility for water procurement within their families, this program served as a significant empowerment tool.

⁠In what ways can individuals and global organizations contribute to the Georgie Badiel Foundation's mission?

We're currently running a social media campaign titled "Water for Peace," urging people to subscribe for $10 to provide clean drinking water for a family of three. More details can be found at, but any contribution, regardless of amount, is greatly appreciated. Additionally, I've collaborated with Georgie on an initiative called "Voices for Clean Water," uniting a group of influential individuals dedicated to giving back and effecting change in countries like Burkina Faso. I firmly believe that by joining forces, we can indeed address the water crisis there—and who knows, perhaps even globally.

Madlena Kalinova wearing Mocha Halter Top

⁠How has your affinity for animals shaped your personal values, lifestyle, or professional direction?

My love for animals knows no bounds—I've always endeavored to aid them whenever possible. From owning my first dog at the tender age of 7 to growing up alongside a menagerie of animals including a donkey, sheep, pigs, and chickens at my grandma's house, my affinity for creatures great and small runs deep. Though I refrained from consuming red meat for years out of a desire to avoid harming animals, I reluctantly resumed it for health reasons.

⁠Could you share an impactful or transformational moment you've experienced through your connection with animals? Also, we'd love to hear about your pets.

Animals have always held a special place in my heart. During my early days of modeling, I deeply missed my family dog while my parents were occupied with their work, my mom caring for orphans which is when my love for helping others was established. Recognizing their inability to care for our family dog, a Rottweiler named Jana, I brought her to America. This not only alleviated my loneliness but also eased the burden on my parents. Presently, I am the proud owner of three dogs, with an additional one in Bulgaria, totaling four beloved companions. Among them, Lola is an English Bulldog Beagle Mix, Raja and India are mini Aussies, and Leo is a Cavalier. Each one holds a special place in my heart.

Do you practice any personal rituals at home that reflect your commitment to environmental conservation?

I am committed to doing my part to help the environment in every way I can. This includes recycling diligently, filtering my water, and making sure to consume leftovers. I'm also passionate about thrift shopping, as it promotes sustainability by giving items a second life. Continuously educating myself on additional ways to minimize my environmental footprint is a priority for me.

⁠Which niLuu style resonates most with you, and why does it stand out?

Nilu has a plethora of styles that I adore, but a few favorites include the one-shoulder long dress, the elegant long kaftan, the flowing long kimono, and the versatile short kimono that she effortlessly pairs with various outfits. However, the standout product for me is Nilu's sleeping mask—it's the first of its kind that I've owned, and now I can't imagine life without it.

Madlena Kalinova reading a magazine

⁠What's your go-to cocktail, and what makes it your favorite?

I love the Macallan Whiskey. I enjoy indulging in a petite croissant paired with The Macallan at Le Jardinier Miami, or savoring their signature cocktail at Zuma NYC.

⁠What motivated your decision to collaborate with Macallan? How does this partnership align with your values or interests?

What drew me to The Macallan was their exceptional team of strong, kind, and inspirational women, along with their longstanding commitment to women's empowerment, evident since the brand's early years with Etty Harbonson in 1926. Additionally, their dedication to giving back to non-profit organizations resonated deeply with me. The connection felt incredibly organic—I was new to Miami, and they extended such warmth and hospitality. I'm forever grateful for the kindness of individuals like Lavinia Cohen and Katie Nahat.

Could you share an amusing or lesser known fact about yourself?

Before embarking on my modeling career at the age of 17, I pursued music and played the Bulgarian National Instrument, the tambura. Our repertoire consisted of classical music, and my first international trip was to Budapest at the age of 14, where we performed for the president.


Madlena Kalinova wearing Mocha Jumpsuit

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