There’s been a push for diversity in the workplace, but what about on the runway? Shouldn’t fashion be for all? What about the models? Shouldn’t the models on the runway also be diverse? While there are more and more models breaking into the world of fashion, is it really enough?
Who chooses what “the look” is? Is the press only giving exposure to certain models? Are designers only focusing in on models with a certain look? Are photographers only photographing and working with certain models? Or maybe it’s society who deems models should look a certain way?
While I can’t tell you where it stems from, I can tell you that having diversity on the runway is so important. It shapes the way we see things. I’ve always viewed models as rolemodels… people you want to look and be like. They’re always wearing the newest styles and showing me the next trends. When I went to get my haircut last week, I showed the hairstylist a picture of a model who had the hairstyle I wanted. Maybe it’s subliminal, maybe it’s not…But the fashion world impacts our views and models are a huge part of that.
Model Monifa speaks up about diversity in the fashion world. Watch her video here:
What do you think about diversity in the fashion world?
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One of the best things about being a fashion blogger is getting to know the stories behind the faces on the runway. It’s so easy to just look at a model and just see what they are wearing. But I like seeing the models on the runway and knowing who they are, where they came from and how they got there.
I was excited to finally meet model Kevin Christie. I first saw him walking for designer Janelle Funari last year. So when I saw him again and he agreed to be interviewed, I was psyched. Funny story – we actually had to film the interview in 3 different locations to get the lighting right! Sorry Kevin! But I must say that Kevin was a trouper and I really appreciate that.
SO without further ado, here’s our interview.
Meet Model Kevin:
What did you think about the interview? Be sure to leave a comment below! Also, be sure to subscribe to my blog and follow my blog’s Instagram @newstylemode.
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.
Like this post? Be sure to leave a comment below on what you think! Also, be sure subscribe to my blog and follow my blog’s Instagram @newstylemode.
In a world where it is easy to lose your way, role models are so important to have. They inspire you. They shape you. They empower you. I love how model Abby-Leigh strives to not only be a model, but also to be a role model. She wants to empower other girls and give them a voice. Abby’s biggest piece of advice is “Respect people for who they are.”
“Younger girls look up to me. I want to give them power even when I feel like I have lost mine.” – Abby
The most shocking part of our interview was when she mentioned that she wants to empower others even though she’s faced nasty comments from people that she knows. I find it extremely inspiring that Abby pushes through the negativity to shine though.
Abby stands up to be a role model.
My Interview with Model Abby:
Jenny A. (me): What is your hardest challenge as a teen model?
Abby-Leigh: The negativity I get from the other boys and girls. Sometimes they try to bring me down. I want to be comfortable in my own skin and lift people up. People say things about me – they call me names and make comments about my glasses. I’ve also gotten nasty messages which I have had to block or delete. Sometimes the nasty messages are from people I know. That’s the hardest part. Sometimes it’s from strangers. They are just doing it for a reaction.
Me: How do you deal with the negativity?
Abby: At first, it gets to me but then it makes me stronger and keeps me going. It makes me want to model more. Don’t let anyone get you down. Follow your dreams.
Me: Who is your role model?
Abby: I have a lot of role models but, my # 1 role model is my mom. She’s my best friend. She’s amazing and does everything. We talk about everything and even watch Prison Break together!
Me: Do you have a motto that you live your life by?
Abby: You can’t blame society when you are society. Younger girls look up to me. I want to give them power even though there are times when I feel like I have lost mine.
Me: You’ve spoken about beauty on Instagram, what does beauty mean to you?
Abby: It’s not about looks, it’s about personality. Beauty in the inside, not on the outside. Being nice doesn’t cost anything.
Me: You’re a model for Izzy Be Clothing. Tell us a little about the brand!
Abby: I love Izzy Be Clothing. It empowers girls. It lifts girls up and gives them a voice. I want to do that too.
Me: What has been your favorite modeling experience?
Abby: The time when a big crowd of people arrived for my photo shoot! It was outside and I was wearing a beautiful evening gown. I was so shocked that they all came!
Me: When you’re not modeling, what do you enjoy doing?
Abby: I love reading and writing. I’m also a gamer girl. I like playing Fortnite. Sometimes people call me a tomboy and sometimes they say I’m a girly girl. I say, I’m both.
Linda: What do you hope for your future? Do you have a goal?
Abby: I want to be a really big model like Victoria’s Secret models Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner.
Me: If you could be a fruit or a vegetable, which fruit or vegetable would you be?
Abby: I would be a pineapple just like the quote “Be a pineapple. Stand tall, wear a crown, and be sweet on the inside.” Everyone should be a pineapple.
I want to hear from you! Who is your role model? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
What I really admire about Rachel is that she is a strong and independent model. She strikes me as the modern day princess, a little bit sweet & a little bit edgy. One moment she can be sitting in the makeup room getting glammed up to walk the runway, and the next moment she can be taking charge of her career and booking her own fashion shows.
Here is our interview:
Jenny A. (Me) : What’s your craziest modeling experience?
Rachel: Moving to NYC this past year was crazy. In February, I signed with New York Model Management. After New York Fashion Week, I had to go back home to LA to work. My NY booker encouraged me to come back to the New York area in August – October. I was so excited that I booked my whole trip – including my flight. Would you believe that a week before my trip, they dropped the whole runway department…including me?!
Me: What did you end up doing?
Rachel: I was determined to make things work. I still went to NYC and did it all on my own! I booked myself for every day of fashion week!
Me: What is the hardest challenge you’ve faced as a model so far?
Rachel: Taking Criticism. I’ve been told that I am too tall, too skinny, too fat, too ugly, and too old. Casting directors will comment on all of the things that they think I should change about myself. Taking that criticism and saying “thank you” is the most challenging part of modeling.
Me: Is there anything you want to say to those people who have criticized your look?
Rachel: At the end of the day, there are a lot of other designers that want my look. I can’t let those negative comments get to me.
Me: What do you think about when you walk down the runway?
Rachel: I think about my posture, my facial expressions and the beat of the music. I also think about making sure my arms are moving symmetrically, and figuring out where the cameras are. It’s all about getting that perfect professional picture!
Me: Have you ever lived in a model apartment?
Rachel: No, model housing is very expensive. When I went to model in New York, I stayed in Airbnbs and hotels, because they where just as expensive as the modeling apartments where I would have to share a room.
Norma C. :Did you always dream of being a model?
Rachel: Yes, I’ve always loved dressing up & being in-front of the camera. I was 5’9” at 15 years old when I signed a contract with LA Model Management. After high school, I went to college & took a break from modeling. At 25 years old, I was 5’11” & was still determined to be a model. I went back to LA Model Management & signed a new contract. I’ve been with them ever since. I am very thankful for all the work!
Me: What are your goals and dreams?
Rachel: My goal is to support myself and be independent. My dream is to do commercials, acting, and trying out stand-up comedy. I also dream that one day I can produce my own runway shows!
Me: What do you love to do?
Rachel: Besides for taking pictures, I love stand up comedy and going to shows. I started writing some jokes. I’m actually working with friends who are also models on some small comedy film projects.
“My goal is to support myself and be independent.” – Rachel Sklar
Me: Who is your favorite animated character?
Rachel: Cinderella because my life makes me feel like a fairytale. I always have to give my clothes back after a modeling job, just like Cinderella at the stroke of midnight.
Me: We’re exactly one month into the New Year! What was your New Year’s Resolution?
Rachel: To be more familiar with politics. I’ve been telling myself I would learn the basics. I want to watch the news more, read more, and be more involved in political conversations.
Me: If you could be a fruit or vegetable, which fruit or vegetable would you be?
Rachel: I would be a goji berry. Goji berries are expensive, hard to find, & they are great any way they’re prepared.
Thanks for reading! I want to hear from you! What does being a modern day princess mean to you?
Erika Citrin was one of the models who opened up the Janelle FUNARI NEW YORK fashion show! She was dancing, modeling and doing flips on the runway to Ciara’s Level Up. She was jumping around and totally lit up the runway! I was completely gripped when she walked to the end of the runway, posed, looked at the model standing across from her (Dana Wiener) and then they both turned their backs towards the cameras and clasped hands. I felt as though they were standing together and blocking out all the noise around them. They walked back up the runway hand-in-hand before running into the distance.
ERIKA WAS FEARLESS
When the show was over, I met with Erika and she did a behind the scenes exclusive dance for us (see the video below)!
Here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for… my interview with Erika!
– What was it like to dance at the FUNARI NEW YORK fashion show?
Dancing at the fashion show was truly an amazing experience. Both Janelle (AKA FUNARI NEW YORK’S mastermind) and I have very busy schedules so even she hadn’t seen the full final product before the show!
– How long did it take you to practice? Who choreographed the dance?
I choreographed the dance and chose Dana Wiener, who I originally met at Joffrey Ballet School to dance with me. We put everything together in 3 rehearsals! One of them took place on an extremely hot day at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
-How did you become a model for FUNARI NEW YORK?
I caught Janelle’s eye when I was doing a photoshoot with Noel Valero. Noel is an amazing person and photographer. I met him when I was dancing for Arch Contemporary Ballet and we stayed connected afterwards. I’ve done multiple photo shoots with him. I actually caught Janelle’s eye after I had my hair done in cornrows and did a test shoot with Noel in her clothing!
– What was the photoshoot like?
The shoot included modeling poses and BGirl freezes (breakdancing poses) all in one!
– As a model, what is your biggest challenge? How did you overcome it?
From purely a modeling standpoint, it can be very hard to overcome the dancer stereotype. I mainly get hired to model for dance costumes, or to have a dance segment in a show but I am very interested in more fitness and lifestyle jobs. I’m a personal trainer and bodybuilder so I want to be able to showcase everything that I know how to do.
– Are you adventurous? What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
I am very adventurous! I recently went hiking in the Catskills this fall and jumped off a 40ft cliff into one of the river pools up there!
This spring, I’m taking a two week trip to Paris and London (you may see me posting some FUNARI designs in my travel attire! )
– What did you do for the holidays?
This past holiday season I mainly stayed home and rested! I visit my family more in between holidays as travel is a lot less hectic! As a freelancer, holidays tend to be a busier work season so I like to be around in the city.
– If you could be a fruit or vegetable, what fruit or vegetable would you be?
I would definitely be a fruit. I like the idea of being able to grow both from low in the ground and high in a tree! Also, fruits are the only way I satisfy my sweet tooth, since candy and sugars aren’t an option in my lifestyle!
I want to hear from you! What do you think about Erika’s dance? Be sure to subscribe to my blog and follow my blog’s Instagram @newstylemode
What to see more of what Erika is up to? You can follow her on Instagram @egcitrin