In The New York Times Style Magazine (T Mag)’s latest Culture Issue, the insightful glossy takes on different creative corners of the cultural landscape to celebrate change and the key figures that helped ignite it in their respective fields. From Black actresses in Hollywood to touching on the impact of Latinos across fashion—including Chilean designer Maria Cornejo and a new graduating class of Dominican models who are changing the game, the collection is quite a journey.
In conversation Concepción de León and the team at the T Mag, a few of the models explained how a new generation of Dominican models have changed the fashion industry and it, in turn, has changed them.
“We didn’t fit into the mold of a white woman with light eyes and straight hair,” Hiandra Martinez said. “Rompemos ese tipo de standard.”
It’s a welcomed change, to say the least.
According to T Mag and Fashion Spot, there was a 23% uptick in women of color walking the runway this Fall fashion season in Europe, bringing the grand total to about 40%.
Sandro Guzmán tapped Lineisy Montero Feliz at an amusement park at the age of 14. The founder of Ossygeno Models is a scout with over two decades of experience. He works with a lot of the talent that comes from the Dominican Republic and sensed that Feliz had that it factor. Though rightfully hesitant at first, she and her mom decided to give him and the industry a shot after she graduated high school.
Today, the 24-year-old is one of the most recognizable faces in the game with what Guzmán calls “unprecedented success.” (Think 67 fashion shows across Europe & the US, including Prada, Calvin Klein, Dior and covers for countless magazines). She learned to embrace her afro whilst in the spotlight, though.
“We cut her hair and left her with her natural afro“ Guzman recalled. “She would have never imagined that her natural afro, along with her beauty, would be what put her on the map of the fashion industry at a global level.”
“Normally my hair is not called ‘good hair’,” she shared. Quickly, she learned to not only embrace it but love it.
“Pelito malo,” Anyelina Rosa explained. “Here we are with our… curly hair and we’re also beautiful.”
Although one would easily call this piece “how these models are redefining beauty,” it’s important to remember that this isn’t a redefining—Afro-Latinas have always been beautiful, the rest of the world is just now catching on.
“It’s incredible how we’ve been able to reach certain levels and spaces where we weren’t taken into consideration [prior],” Luisana González said.
The other women agree and Ambar Cristal echoed: “Through modeling we inspire other girls in our country [and Latin America] to dream.”