Irina Pantaeva is a Russian model and actress. Pantaeva was born in Ulan-Ude, Buryat ASSR, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union. She is an ethnic Buryat.
Pantaeva started working as a model with designer Larisa Dagdanova in 1988 in Ulan-Ude. She participated in several fashion shows with ″Larissa″ collection in China. In 1989 she won the first-ever beauty contest in Buryatia, ″Miss Ulan-Ude″. Later that same year she went to Moscow to the audition for Vozvrashhenie Xodzhi Nasreddina movie, and filming afterwards. Then she joined Avant-garde Theatre of fashion run by designer Irina Molchanova. In 1991 she took part in her first major fashion show, the Moscow show of Pierre Cardin
In 1992, she moved to Paris to pursue her modeling career. She succeeded in getting an appointment with Karl Lagerfeld, that allowed her to join in his fashion show and the world of haute couture. Pantaeva signed a contract with "The Marilyn Agency″.