Dominican models dominating fashion’s favorite runways
Lineisy Montero rose to supermodel stardom against steep odds.
To start with, she was not interested. She’s timid. She does not like to wear makeup. She used to trips on high-heeled shoes. And in her native Dominican Republic, girls like her were not generally viewed as beautiful.
Montero was 14 years old, skinny, dark-skinned, much taller than her friends in school. She wore her hair in an Afro or pajón style, as frizzy hair is disparagingly referred to in her country. But one day, a mysterious man who had scared her by following her through an amusement park in Santo Domingo turned out to be a talent scout for a modeling agency.
“He told my mother, ‘Look, your daughter is tall and pretty, and can be a model,’ ” Montero, now 19 years old, recalled during a recent interview from New York, where she lives when she’s not working in Paris. “Mami and I looked at him like he was crazy. Mami gave him her phone number, but we didn’t pay much attention. The truth is, we didn’t believe him.”
Five years later, Montero has turned into one of the favorites in the fashion capitals of the world, walking the runways for important haute couture houses. After her debut with Prada, just nine months ago, she became the most popular model in the New York and Paris spring shows that ended this fall. She was the subject of articles in magazines such as Teen Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar because she was the only model in the Prada show who sported an Afro, not seen for years. The newspaper The Guardian reported her photos “unleashed a wave of enthusiasm in the social networks.”
Montero is one of a group of Dominican young women rising in the world of international modeling even as they challenge the Euro-centric standards of beauty in their own country and the much criticized lack of diversity in the modeling industry in general.
Vogue, regarded as the bible of fashion, reported in October that the most popular models currently come from the Dominican Republic. The headline read, “Forget Brazil — The Models Everyone’s Talking About Now Are All From the Dominican Republic.”
And of the five women mentioned in the article, four are black.
“Sadly, there’s still a lot of racism in our country, and in many cases these girls have been denied opportunities, have been discriminated against,” said Carlos Lamarche, a Dominican journalist and fashion expert living in New York.
Category: DR News |