UPDATE: The medical examiner's office has ruled the death a suicide.
>> Sad news for the modeling industry today: 20-year-old Ruslana Korshunova fell to her death in an apparent suicide around 2:30 pm Saturday.
Although the fall is still under investigation, the Kazakhstani model known as IMG's "Russian Rapunzel" for her long flowing hair apparently jumped from her ninth-floor apartment in Manhattan's Financial District. Officials said there were no signs of a struggle in the apartment, where Ruslana had been living for only two months, and the balcony from which she fell had construction netting around it which appeared to have been deliberately ripped.
Ruslana was first discovered in November 2003 by Models 1 booker Debbie Jones, who saw her in an in-flight magazine article about her hometown in Kazakhstan, Almaty: "She looked like something out of a fairytale! We had to find her and we searched high and low until we did! She's really incredible with feline features and timeless beauty."
Since then, Ruslana appeared on the covers of Russian Vogue and French Elle, in ads for Marc by Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang, DKNY, and Christian Dior, and walked in numerous runways for the likes of Marchesa, Libertine, Y-3, Alberta Ferretti and Marc by Marc Jacobs.
A making of video of Ruslana's Nina by Nina Ricci fragrance television ad below.
Three months ago, Ruslana posted online: "I'm so lost. Will I ever find myself?" but Saturday, a friend said that she had just returned from a job in Paris and seemed to be "on top of the world." Her ex-boyfriend had just dropped her off at her apartment at 5 am that morning, after they watched the movie Ghost. And her best friend, Kira Titeneva avowed: "There's no way she would have killed herself. She loved life so much." Rest in peace, Ruslana.
A gallery of some of her work below.
*image: source, source, source