1 MAY 2009

When Mel Gibson arrived hand-in-hand with a striking Russian brunette at the Wolverine premiere this week, celebrity watchers were keen to know more about the new woman in his life.

One thing's for sure. Thirty-nine-year-old Oksana Grigorieva has come a long way from the bleak industrial town of Saransk in central European Russia where she started out. There she was raised by mum Ludmilla, who conducted an orchestra at a local chicken factory, and father Ptyr, a potato vendor at the market.

Aged 20, Oksana relocated to the UK, soon striking up a relationship with a vicar's son. And it was her time in Britain, says her former beau, which helped cultivate the twice-married brunette's sense of style. "When she first arrived, her dress was very Russian," he told the Mirror. "But by the time she left, she was wearing fashionable jeans and tops."

First wed in her homeland, she entered into matrimony for a second time in 1992 when she tied the knot with a Brighton graphic designer. When that relationship failed she moved in with a 60-year-old retired ballet dancer.

And it was through him Oksana had her first taste of fame. At a London premiere her striking model looks attracted the eye of former 007 actor Timothy Dalton, with whom she went on to have a son, Alexander. The relationship didn’t last, however, and they split after two years.

Photo: Rex
The new lady in Mel's life has become the source of much interest in the media since she appeared on the red carpet with him at the Wolverine premiere
Photo: Getty Images
She was previously linked to Timothy Dalton with whom she has a son, Alexander