Contesa Cneajna is a very beautiful amateur model from Poland, obsessed with dark and gothic fashion and alternative music, she is standing out on social media so we tried to get to know her better with this interview.

1. How would you describe yourself?

I’m just a regular girl who is in love with everything dark and beautiful! Also, a music addict, animal lover, and introvert.

2. When did you start with your modeling career and what lead you to Alternative/goth modeling?

When I was 14, I started listening to rock, metal, and gothic music and soon got interested in alternative and gothic fashion As a teenager, I would spend hours browsing the internet and looking at photos of beautiful goth girls wearing fabulous outfits and I dreamed of being like them one day. I always felt like I was creatively inclined, although I was not interested in more traditional forms of art, like drawing or music and I wanted to have my own small place on the internet where I could share my creativity. For a long time I was too shy and insecure to make this wish come true, but one day (February 2018) I decided to give it a try and create an Instagram account where I started by posting very casual photos, usually bad quality, taken on a phone or a cheap camera. Over the years, I perfected my style, the photo quality improved and I gained some following on Instagram. To be honest, I never thought my Instagram account would become so popular and I still can’t believe that so many people like seeing my pictures.
However, I don’t really like calling myself a model, since I’m not a professional and I just take photos for fun!

3. Do you feel connected to the alternative lifestyle, and how is that like in your country?

I do! I’m in love with the music, the style, and I’m generally attracted to dark aesthetics, although I do not feel attached to any particular subculture, I like being free and I find labels limiting. Sadly, people in Poland tend to be very conservative and they are not very welcoming towards alternative fashion and lifestyle, but hopefully, it will change with the younger generations.

4. Why the modeling name Contesa Cneajna can you tell us the story behind that name?

Of course! I have encountered the name “Cneajna” for the first time in a song by Cradle of Filth (which is one of my favorite bands by the way), titled Ebony Dressed for Sunset. This name immediately drew my attention, since it sounded so exotic and unique and I wanted to find out more about it, its meaning, and its origin. According to Google, Cneajna was the mother of Vlad III, known to most as Vlad Dracula, who of course inspired Bram Stoker to write his novel “Dracula”. I’m obsessed with vampires and this aspect made me love this name even more and I thought I could use it as my artistic pseudonym. I added the word  “Contesa” (“countess” in Romanian) to make the name more complete.

5. Every model has her own brand (the thing that makes her stand out), what do you think your brand is?

I don’t really see myself as “standing out” because I don’t feel any more unique than other models, every one of them is unique and beautiful! But something that I can consider my hallmark is my long black hair, my love for high heels, stilettos, fishnets, stockings, corsets, leather, PVC, and lace.

6. Do you work with make up artists or do you make all your styling and make-up yourself?

I do everything by myself, which has its pros and cons. I obviously save a lot of time and money, but I am not very skilled in terms of makeup or hairstyling and usually go for the same look, but I’d love to collaborate with a makeup artist at one point and see myself in a completely different makeup style.

7. And what about your photos, do you work with photographer or do you take your pictures yourself? please tell us a bit about your process of making a good picture.

My photos are taken by me or my boyfriend; usually, I take the photos inside and my boyfriend takes my outdoor photos. I love taking photos on my own because I am in charge of everything but I also love outdoor photos as beautiful scenery really adds to the picture. When I take my photos, I always plan everything first: the outfit, makeup, the backdrop, even the poses I want to do. Since I’m a self-taught and pretty amateur, it’s often a hit or miss, sometimes the photos turn out great at the first take, and sometimes I need to redo the shoot a few times to get satisfying results. Outdoor shoots are not that easy to plan, since lighting and weather tend to change, so we just need to adapt to the existing conditions. And what makes a good picture? I think lighting is extremely important, it can make a huge difference, also color correcting. Aside from the technical stuff, my mood also affects the final results a lot – if I wear an outfit that I feel comfortable and confident in, the photos turn out so much better!

8. Where do you go for inspiration? Do you have an idol, someone that you look up to for?

I think my main inspirations are music, books, and movies. Especially vampire movies and books, like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Carmilla, Van Helsing, Interview with the Vampire, etc. As for the music, I pay a lot of attention to the lyrics and the mood of the songs; the bands that inspire me a lot are Type O Negative, Cradle of Filth, The 69 Eyes, London After Midnight, Nine Inch Nails, Inkubus Sukkubus, Rob Zombie, and many many more. Another movie that constantly inspires me is The Love Witch. I love the message, the visual part of this movie, and the look of the main character Elaine Parks. And, obviously, classic gothic icons such as Morticia, Vampira, Lily Munster, etc.

9. You look amazing in your modeling outfits! What do you wear when you’re ‘off duty’?

Thank you so much! I don’t go out much and typically just sit at home, due to the current world situation, so I just wear comfy clothes like oversized t-shirts or sweaters and leggings. When I go out, I typically go for black skinny jeans, a black leather jacket, and some comfy boots.

10. You must have a lot of requests for  collaborations with brands, shops and designers , what makes you say yes to a collaboration?

I do get quite a lot of requests, and unfortunately, due to time limits, I can’t say yes to everyone. I love working with small creators and helping them grow, but of course, I collaborate also with bigger brands. When deciding to say yes to a collaboration I just follow my taste. I love collaborating with clothing stores, but also designers of lingerie, jewelry (especially big statement gothic jewelry!), and less obvious items like home decor or accessories that I can use as props for my photos.

11. What do you consider your biggest career highlights so far?

I think it was starting to collaborate with stores and designers, which brought a lot of new ideas for shoots. Thanks to collaborations, I could try many items and styles that were not exactly in my taste at the first glance, and it helped me leave my comfort zone.

12. After all that what more can we expect to see you do in the future, what are your biggest goals in life?

I don’t have any big goals, I just strive to do anything that makes me happy. Modeling-wise, I obviously want to improve, especially my self-photography skills. I also want to make my apartment more gothic, which would be a great backdrop for my shoots.

13. Do you have any hobbies, something you really enjoy doing just for fun?

Photography is my biggest hobby and I can look for inspiration or edit photos for hours! But aside from that, my hobbies and interests include listening to music, working out, cooking, skincare, and pets, particularly guinea pigs. I have two guinea pigs and I love spending time with them, taking care of them, and learning about them so that I can care for them as best as possible.

14.Name three things you simply cannot live without every single day?

Coffee, sweets and my pets.

15. So to end … You know you have many fans out there What do you like to say to them?

First of all, I am so endlessly grateful to all of you, I can’t even express it. I literally wouldn’t be able to do what I love if it wasn’t for you! So thank you so much <3 I hope my example shows people that it’s worth trying something you are dreaming about. And I want everyone to remember that Instagram is just a facade and we all tend to focus just on positive moments and post the best pictures (usually ones with makeup, good lighting, and poses that make us look better), so please never feel bad about yourself and don’t compare yourself to others!

We’re all just humans, with insecurities and flaws, no matter how good we look online. An amateur model from Poland, obsessed with dark and gothic fashion and alternative music.
She a very talented girl so keep your eyes and make sure you don’t miss a thing.

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Cover credits: Model & Styling: Kseniya Arhangelova, Dress: Belinda Barry
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