New York Fashion Week is one of the best times of the year! I love seeing the shows and going behind the scenes. I spoke with model Mara Cifuentes just as she was getting ready to walk the runway for swimsuit designer BFYNE.
Model Mara Cifuentes shares her thoughts with us right as she was getting ready to walk for Arts Heart Fashion. Watch Mara’s video here:
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Born and raised by a single mom in Rwanda, Africa, model Lyndz Tuyishime left her family to go to America to 1) further her education and 2) to become a top model. She followed her heart and left everything she knew and loved to chase her dreams.
Lyndz came to America all by herself. She wanted to learn about the fashion industry and bring it back home to Rwanda.
She spent the first couple of years living in Maine and studying for her associates degree. While she was in school, she was modeling and taking pictures with her friend, a fashion photographer. She started doing photoshoots and posting her photos on Instagram. She began falling in love with the camera.
Even though Lyndz was modeling, she still felt like she was still living outside of the fashion world. She thought back to her dream…. the reason why she left Rwanda to become a top model… and decided it was time to take action. She was going to move to Atlanta, Georgia and try out for DC Fashion Week.
The moment she broke out of her shell was when she walked for fashion designer Ean Williams, the Director and Producer of DC Fashion Week. Ever since then, she hasn’t stopped! She’s modeled for Couture Fashion Week 3 times. I actually met her at Couture Fashion Week!
What really stood out to me is that Lyndz strives to give back and help people first-hand. Last year, she decided to have her own runway show fundraiser to raise money for women’s education back home in Rwanda. She went to the drawing board. She knew models and designers from her modeling career, and she knew the hotel industry from her day job. It put her in the perfect place to bring the community together to support her cause.
She reached out to her dear friend, model Ritha who loved the idea! That’s when Fashion 4 Hope was born! They got 5 designers together to showcase their collections at the runway show. Between the money Lyndz raised with Fashion 4 Hope’s runway show and her own savings, Lyndz was able to send one young talented woman to the University Libre Del Kigali.
“Fashion 4 Hope is about building each other up, supporting each other and standing together.”
I’m in awe of how Lyndz was able to 1) create her own fashion show and 2) bring the fashion world together to make a difference. Models and designers were working together to further women’s education. How incredible? Lyndz came to America to further her own education and now she is using fashion to help another young woman back home also further her education?! To me, that’s inspiring.
“We can make a big difference in communities and daily lives.”
“God put me on earth to be a voice for the hopeless”
Without further ado, here is Lyndz’s interview:
What inspires you?
My family. My mother. My brothers – Yves and Luc – and my cousin Isimibi who is part of our family. I want to make them proud and I want to make my country proud.
What was modeling for Couture Fashion Week like?
It was very tiring, stressful and a lot of waiting. A lot goes on behind the scenes…like waiting for hair and makeup. You have to be patient. If you leave to go get a sandwich, they might take another model.
What advice do you have for aspiring models?
Do your research. Look at the designer’s clothes and their makeup styles. Prep yourself mentally and see what the designer likes in terms of how their models walk. You have to practice, train, and go with the flow.
What is your hardest challenge?
Accepting that not everyone will like you and understanding that if a designer doesn’t like you, not to take it personally. Back in my country, I am too skinny. Body shaming is real. I’ve heard “you’re too skinny…you’re not beautiful”. When I lose weight, my shoulders bones show. Some designers love it. Some think I’m too skinny. It can give you a meltdown.
How do you deal with that?
I’m a positive person and look at life as a second chance. There are so many designers who love me and have become my friends over the years.
What was your most embarrassing modeling experience?
One time, I was so nervous that I walked the wrong way during the runway show… and I kept walking!
If you could be a fruit or vegetable, what would you be?
A carrot. Its’ good for your skin and I like them. You can eat them raw or cooked.
Who is your hero?
My mom. She has unconditional love for me which has saved me as a person. Even if we aren’t in the same country, we are still close. She’s a hardworking, single mom who inspires me everyday.
“Even if I can help one person have a better life, that will be enough for me”
Lyndz is currently working on another fashion show to raise money for more young women to go to college.
Are you inspired by Lyndz? Be sure to leave a comment below on what you think! Also, be sure to subscribe to my blog and follow my blog’s Instagram @newstylemode.
I just want to start by saying how proud I am of designer Janelle Funari. Last year, I asked her what she hoped to achieve within the next year. You know what she said? “To open my first FUNARI store in NYC!” Guess what?! She did it! Janelle opened up her very own store in DUMBO, Brooklyn. I had the honor of attending her fashion show. As I watched her cut the red ribbon, all I could think about is how dreams really do come true.
Beautiful. Dynamic. Indestructible.
Last week I wore the FUNARI tank top that I received from the fashion show to my spin class and I was on fire! I was peddling up this really tough “climb” and I really thought I wouldn’t last through the song. My heart was racing and I could feel the sweat dripping down my neck. I looked at the woman staring back at me in the mirror wearing my FUNARI tank top and thought ” I can do this.” Seeing myself wearing FUNARI gave me the extra push to work harder, be better, and be on fire.
So without further ado, here is the my exclusive interview with designer Janelle Funari.
Jenny A. (Me): Tell me a little bit about the collection that I saw on the runway. What is the collection about? Was there a message behind it?
Janelle: The collection is called Fire! It was the launch of the men’s and woman’s swim line. The collection is all inclusive with unisex styling and gender neutral pieces that can be worn by all. There is something for everyone in this collection! The message behind the collection was about showing diversity in size, shape & color! We want you to feel good in your skin, good about where you are in your life & good about your fitness journey. Beauty comes from within! We want to empower both men and woman to feel confident, sexy and bold.
Me: Where do you get your inspiration from?
Janelle: My inspiration comes from living and breathing the NYC lifestyle. Being around this multicultural city which is constantly moving, keeps my mind spinning towards new styles and designs! Living in NYC has inspired me to want functionality, practicality and amazing edgy styles.
Me: It was so exciting watching you cut the red ribbon at your store’s Grand Opening! What was it like to cut the red ribbon on the runway?
Janelle: Cutting the red ribbon was a BIG moment in my career! I have waited a long time to open a store and cutting this ribbon made me realize all I have overcome in this life. I now know and believe that with perseverance and determination, dreams can come true!
Me: Just like the people who live in New York, I felt like your models were very diverse. How do you find your models?
Janelle: The model selection is very important to me. I am always looking for confidence and an athletic look. I feel the models now understand my vision and that the universe sends them to me. There are models I find on Instagram and request them to walk in my fashion shows. I am always ecstatic when they say “yes”! I love working with dancers because it shows that movement is possible in my brand. I want clients to know my products are beautiful, indestructible and can stretch and move with you!
Me: What was it like to have your very own fashion show?
Janelle: Having my own show was a great experience! I was able to control the concept and really put my heart into it. It was nice to be able to show my inspiration and not have anyone hold me back from my vision. I know I can have outlandish ideas but I believe I can always create a bigger and better experience. I think shows can only improve. It is important to a brand and the designer that it needs to feel authentic and genuine for someone to buy the brand; they need to feel a connection. This is what I am trying to accomplish with my presentation.
Me: Which outfit from your collection was the most challenging to create / design?
Janelle: The most challenging piece would have to be the tailored athletic looks. For this collection that would be the 3/4 camouflage coat. I was mixing (1) a water proof denim bonded fabric with (2) a recycled textured poly backed with (3) wool lined with (4) cashmere with (5) a leather trim. The cut had to be tailored to the body and fit well. It is very complicated and challenging to sew together fabrics that stretch and don’t stretch. It’s a slow and steady process but in the end it is very rewarding!
Me: Do you have any advice for upcoming designers?
Janelle: Always follow your dream. Push yourself to be different then the rest, constantly sketch, and learn “The Business”! I always tell students that it is best to learn the business side of fashion and to also be creative. Take a job in a store or intern with a business. With both of these things you can be successful!
Be sure to check out Janelle’s store which is located at:
145 Front Street, Dumbo, Brooklyn. (Right off the F train York stop)
Right now they are appointment only. In spring/summer, the hours will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday with NO appointment necessary from 11-7pm.
A special congratulations and thank you to Janelle Funari for her fabulous fashion show! Check out my top looks from the Fire collection here. If you want to see her other collections, check here.
Also a special thanks to photographer Noel Valero for capturing the moments with his spectacular photos.
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I love Valentine’s Day. Whether it’s a day to celebrate your partner, your friends or even yourself…it’s all about love. In honor of Valentines Day, model Kateryna Saveiko shared her guide to self love with us! Here it is!
Model Kateryna’s Guide to Self Love:
First things first. “You have to love yourself. When you love yourself other people will love you too.”
Give yourself the confidence you need. “You should wake up every morning, look in the mirror and say “I’m beautiful.” Tell yourself that you are beautiful. You have a beautiful soul, you have a beautiful heart, you are kind, and you are a great person.”
Take care of yourself. “Your body will be grateful for you.”
Have a positive outlook on life. “If you think your life is horrible, then it will be horrible. If you think your life will be great, then it will be great.”
Jenny A: Thank you so much for your guide. So tell me, what is the dating scene like as a model?
Kateryna Saveiko: It’s not easy. In New York, guys don’t take it seriously. You really have to find the right person.
Jenny A: What is the ideal Valentine’s Day present?
Kateryna: Writing a poem for your partner or even making them a collage of pictures.
Jenny A: What is the hardest challenge you’ve faced as a model so far?
Kateryna: Fighting with myself. I always thinking about what I look like… like if I gained weight. I’m always watching myself. I love food but I have to run everyday.
Jenny A: What advice would you give people who struggle with their weight?
Kateryna: Everyone needs to take care of themselves. America is bigger. You have to keep a diet. Even if it’s for 2 – 3 weeks at a time. If you want to live longer, you need to start watching yourself. Your body will be grateful for you.
Jenny A: What was your craziest modeling experience?
Kateryna: When I was 15 years old, we went for a body art festival in Odessa. When we won 3rd place, a Russian agency invited us to work with them for a month in Russia. During that time we went to one of the lakes for 10 days. We lived there in tents. It was the middle of the summer and it rained every day. There were no restrooms and I had mosquito bites everywhere.
During one of the photoshoots, I stepped in an ant hill and there were ants all over my foot! They were crawling all the way up my knee! I was professional about it and finished the shoot.
Jenny A: What do you think about when you walk down the runway?
Kateryna: My body. You have to control your back, your legs, your face…even the muscles in your face! Lots of people are looking at you when you are on the runway. You need to talk with your eyes.
Jenny A: Do you have a goal for this year?
Kateryna: I want to start a modeling blog with my friend who is also a model. Our blog will be about the modeling life in New York. I love this city and I want to help people to see New York positively. People think that the life of a model is easy but, there’s a lot to it. You’re hungry. Your heels aren’t comfortable. Your feet might be bleeding. You have to smile even when feet hurt or you are tired. You always have to be awake and fresh.
3 Fun facts about Kateryna:
Favorite hobby? Writing Russian poems
Favorite animated character? Catwoman. She’s strong, sexy, smart and she has her own opinion about everything.
If she could be a fruit or vegetable she would be… A grape because it can turn into a healthy juice or a fine wine.
Halloween weekend is finally here! Are you ready? ‘Cause I am! Halloween is a holiday where you can just have fun. You can stop worrying about everything and pretend to be someone or something else.Whether you want to be the sexy cat, or dress up as the Cat in the Hat, you can be anyone or anything that you want to be.
One of my favorite things to do around this time is looking at different Halloween makeup looks on Instagram. I can spend hours watching makeup videos and just admiring the hard work that goes into each look. Some of the most creative, inspiring and gifted people use Halloween to show off their artistic abilities and I love it.
If you got it, haunt it!
Here are my top 10 looks:
2. Ice Cream Queen
3. Owl Empress
4. Pumpkin Queen
5. Mrs. Frankie
6. The Wall from Stranger Things
7. Poison Ivy
8. Pink Neon Skull
9. The Corpse Bride
10. Enchantress of the Sea
Which is your favorite Halloween makeup look?
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Back in January, model Victoria Summer Whetzel and I were both fashion show judges for PLITZS Fashion Marketing’s Model of the Year competition. I admire how sincere she is. First off, she had a really cute Betsey Johnson telephone purse which has a removable phone set handle that plugs into her cellphone. Basically, her purse can turn into a working phone. How cool? But in all seriousness, Victoria is a really sweet and down to earth model.
During the competition, she pointed something out to me that I didn’t realize. For the Model of the Year competition, there were 3 categories – petite female models, male models and 5’8″ female models. She mentioned how PLITZS Fashion Marketing didn’t have a plus-size category for curvy models to compete in. As a curvy model, Victoria hopes that the next year’s PLITZS Fashion Marketing’s competition will have a plus-size/curvy category.
Jenny A. (Me) : When you were a judge at the PLITZS Fashion Marketing competition, what were you looking for in each of the model candidates?
Victoria Summer Whetzel: I was mostly looking for someone who could command the space as soon as they hit the runway. This is the modeling industry, so everyone is beautiful. But I believe the standard of beauty is changing. It’s more than a pretty face and a physique that lives up to society’s standards. Beauty is taking care of yourself and being proud of who you are. Beauty is being able to walk a runway and silence a room by your presence. Beauty is being kind to others and being kind to yourself. That’s what I look for in a model.
Me: Is there something you are looking to see more of on the runway? A specific look, personality, walk…etc?
Victoria: I would love to see more plus-size and curvy models of course. Models like Ashley Graham, Denise Bidot and SO many more. Plus-Side models are body activists and I think their activism has moved mountains in the modeling industry. They have paved the way for many emerging models, including myself. I hope one day I can be a leader in this movement too.
Me: You’re trying to break into the modeling industry as plus-size model. What is the hardest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Victoria: I think the hardest challenge I’ve faced so far, is proving to myself that I have what it takes. Far too often, we are the ones holding ourselves back. Sometimes it’s important to take a moment to remind ourselves that we are enough and celebrate ourselves for all that we have to offer.
Question from Liana in the audience: What kind of food do you usually eat? We hear all these stories about how models don’t eat to stay thin because “thin is in.” How do you cope with that kind of mentality?
Victoria: Being thin has never been a part of who I am, so I just try my best to put foods into my body that make me feel good.
Me: Do you eat certain foods before modeling?
Victoria: I don’t eat anything specific. I eat whatever I feel will make me do my best work that day.
Me: If you could be a fruit or veggie, what fruit or veggie would you be?
Victoria: I would be a watermelon. They have a ton of seeds that represent growth and they are better when shared in the summertime. 🙂
Me: Overall, do you find it difficult to be a plus-size model?
Victoria: Being a plus-size model is hard. Being any kind of model in this industry is hard. But you just have to remember that you get to tell people who you are. They don’t get to tell you who you are. One example of this comes from a recent experience here in New York City.
I attended an open call for an independent designer’s showcase for their swimsuit line. Most of the girls at the call were sizes 00-6, but there were a handful of plus-size girls there too. Probably around 5 or 6 in all. All of the petite model’s took turns modeling a bikini from the designer’s line. The designer then decided she wanted me to also model one of her designs. She said I was the most ‘fit’ of the plus-size girls and she wanted a curvy model. She gave me a swimsuit to put on, and as soon as she handed it to me, I realized it was the same exact bathing suit she had the petite models wear. This swimwear was not designed for girls like me. It was made for a model probably around a size 6.
At first, I felt embarrassed because the swimwear didn’t fit, but I put it on anyway. That day, I saw my first real glitch in the industry. I was being asked to wear this suit, so the designer could say she designs for plus-size models. But I am not a Size 6. I am a Size 12 and I am grateful for designers out there who celebrate me for being just that.
Victoria modeled for New York Fashion Week at PLITZS in Feb 2018. You can follow her on Instagram @theofficial.vsw
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Happy Halloween! One of my favorite Halloween “traditions” is scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook and Instagram to see what people decided to dressed up as. Between the selfies and group photos, I love seeing how much creativity goes into each costume. I have to admit – this year’s costumes are inspirational. I love seeing the imagination and thought behind them. SO when I saw that some of the Victoria’s Secret Angels went all out for their Halloween costumes, I just had to share them with you!
Yikes! I wonder what the other guy looked like… #YouShouldHaveSeenTheOtherGuy
2. A hot mess or a bloody mess?!
3. Alessandra’s rockin’ the 70’s look
4. Is this Mama and Baby bones?
5. My eyes are up here
6. Tired eyes much? Maybe some beauty sleep can help 😉
7. Pretty in white
8. Two and a Half Hotdogs
9. Sexy cat vibes 😉
10. Lais shape-shifted into Mystique!
11. Scared of clowns? Not anymore! Face your childhood fears with Lais’s Sexy IT costume.
Which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!