It goes without saying that the world of high fashion is just a tad bit elitist. I mean, if poor Kanye West couldn’t break in, what are the odds that someone from, say, the slums of Buenos Aires could make any sort of impact on the runways of Milan, Tokyo, or even their native Buenos Aires, where they’re often victims of discrimination and prejudice?
Enter Guido Fuentes. A native of the Bolivian city of Cochabamba, Fuentes set off to try his luck in Argentina at the tender age of 21, following in the footsteps of thousands of other immigrants from Bolivia and Paraguay who each year face discrimination and deportation in pursuit of opportunities not available in their home countries. Beginning his career as a cutter in a textile factory, Fuentes began a lifelong love affair with haute-couture, and now, 24 years later, he is the brain behind the modeling agency Guido Models.
But his is not a mere rags-to-riches immigrant success story. Cultivating talent from his own impoverished Buenos Aires neighborhood of Villa 31, Guido Models was conceived as a defiant act of anti-elitism in an industry so often closed off to the popular classes, and in a city where hardworking immigrants and their children are often cordoned off into overpopulated slums. With a new doc aptly entitled Guido Models, Argentine director Julieta Sans set out to share his unlikely story with the world.
Shot with the sensitive eye of a photographer, Sans’ camera captures the colors and textures of of Guido’s beloved villa, finding beauty amongst the squat, haphazardly constructed brick buildings much like Guido finds grace and beauty in the otherwise street-tough, tomboyish young woman who call its streets home. Following the trials and tribulations of Guido and his two most promising models, Sonia and Delia, Guido Models is a tribute to a man with a singular vision while highlighting the economic and social barriers he continues to face as he fights to make his vision a reality.