Fresh Faces of Fashion

Fresh Faces of Fashion

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Fresh Faces of Fashion

V chats with fashion's next generation of models leading the charge to remold the industry.

V chats with fashion's next generation of models leading the charge to remold the industry.

Photography: Augusto Silva Alliegro

Styling: Sun Zhique

Text: Sam Tracy

The future of fashion is now. 

As the industry opens its doors to new talent, the demand for a more representative industry is finally being heard. It’s been a long time coming: conversation about fashion’s lack has been abuzz and the youngest generation is demanding a change to the “you can’t sit with us” mentality of the industry’s past. Young movers and shakers are reshaping fashion’s fabric, amplifying underrepresented voices and promoting diverse talent. V sits down with three upcoming models making their mark on the fashion world, transforming its infamous exclusivity into celebratory inclusivity. 

Raven wears dress, shoes, and gloves Rui Zhou, bodysuit Gauntlett Cheng, hat Bode

NAME: Raven Shields-Wallace

AGE: 23

INSTAGRAM: @raydianttt

Where are you from? Would you say your upbringing shaped your view on fashion and modeling? 

I was born in Staten Island and raised in ATL.

Definitely. When I was younger growing up in NY, I remember my mom would surprise us with new outfits for school and new sneakers on holidays like Valentine’s Day. I loved expressing myself through clothes.

Did you have early aspirations for a career in fashion? 

I’ve always wanted to be in fashion and I’ve always planned to have a career in it.

How did you get your start with modeling? Where were you scouted? What was that moment like for you?

I started off in Atlanta shooting with friends and upcoming designers. They pushed me to get in front of the camera because I was very shy even though I wanted to work in fashion. I was scouted while at a party and she had seen me out before but I wasn’t really ready until then. I was very happy and excited I felt aligned.

What was your family’s reaction to pursuing modeling? Were they initially supportive? 

They were happy for me and very supportive. 

As a model of color in the industry what has your experience been? Do you feel like there has been any change/growth in the past few years? 

It’s been great but I do experience those moments of feeling like a token or I’m the only person of color. There’s been a ton of growth in a short amount of time. The most important thing is everyone here in NY is extremely respectful. I think people are more sensitive in a good way and appreciative of our differences working toward a similar goal. 

Ideally what does the future of fashion look like to you? 

Sustainable, slow and more personal. I highly support reselling, thrifting and shopping consignment/vintage. Also I’d like to see more designers be more conscious in the materials they use. 

What was your journey to being signed to the agency you are with currently? 

In February of 2019 I signed with my current mother agent St. Claire Models. After that, I spent the first seven months in Atlanta building the mental resilience I would need for NY Fashion week in August. After a successful fashion week, my sister persuaded me to stay in NY with her and I got a regular job and just kept working on myself until the following February Kianna Alexander from APM reached out to me via Instagram and set up a meeting. 

Although you are a fresh face, is there any advice you could offer fellow models just starting out? 

Be your best self. I mean that very literally. Simplify your routine and be consistent with your eating and exercising. Natural is better inside and outside your body. Practice makes perfect don’t think you’re just going to walk on set and be perfect the first time. Practice your faces and your walk! Be confident in the qualities that make you unique. 

In terms of fashion, who are some of your early influences?

Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Vogue, Seventeen Mag, Cosmopolitan, Coco Chanel, Azzedine Alaia, Louis Vuitton and Donna Karen. 

What has been your favorite moment in your career thus far? 

When I wore that stunning Giambattista Valli dress for WSJ magazine, my first beauty and hair covers for WWD/ Beauty Inc. Magazine, and definitely walking the runway as an ice cream cone for Pyer Moss’ Paris couture debut.

How would you describe your style? Do you have any wardrobe staples you couldn’t live without?

Effortless and inventive. I can be like a chameleon, I’m a tomboy one day and a girly girl the next. I always need a trench of some sort, my vintage brooks brothers white button down, Bstroy socks and my Santangelo necklace. 

What’s the best advice you’ve received since you entered the industry? And who gave it to you?

“Don’t start working and just become a part of the rat race, remember where you are”- My friend Gordo. 

Outside of modeling, what are some things that you are passionate about? 

I love food and I enjoy cooking and I’m currently learning about gardening.

Every day I want to learn new things. I used to spend all my time reading and lately I’ve been researching a bunch of new books to tap into. I also spend a lot of time designing and learning how to sew and make clothes. A passion of mine is sustainability and I’m figuring out how I can create a sustainable life and clothing line. 

Sara wears dress Terrence Zhou, shoes and tights stylists Own

NAME: Sara Fowler

AGE: 23

INSTAGRAM: @sarafowl

Where are you from? Would you say your upbringing shaped your view on fashion and modeling? 

I am the daughter of Haitian immigrants who raised me in New York City. I didn’t grow up exposed to fashion or modeling so when I became aware of the fashion world during my freshman year of High School, it was pretty hard for me to stay away.

Did you have early aspirations for a career in fashion? 

My aspirations for modeling started in high school when I started my first job at Hollister on 5th Ave. For the most part, models worked at the store and as I grew to know my co-workers, my curiosity for modeling began.

How did you get your start with modeling? Where were you scouted? What was that moment like for you?

I was first scouted when I was 15 years old at a shopping mall in Queens. I grew up pretty closed off and shy so when someone noticed me for something like modeling, it definitely excited and scared me at the same time. 

What was your family’s reaction to pursuing modeling? Were they initially supportive? 

When I told my mother about the scout, she was absolutely against it. She wanted me to focus on school and eventually a career that resulted from earning a college degree, not putting on makeup and walking a catwalk.

As a model of color in the industry what has your experience been? Do you feel like there has been any change/growth in the past few years? 

Being a black model, my hair is always a topic of discussion which is frustrating every time. It’s not easy but it’s just a part of the job. I do know that the fashion industry has a lot more work to do in reference to black models and models of color.

Perception is everything and I went into this at a time in my life that I felt ready. My experiences in this industry so far have been amazing. I’ve gotten to work with amazing designers and brands that align with a lot of my values. I wouldn’t trade the experiences I’ve had in this industry for the world.

Ideally what does the future of fashion look like to you? 

Ideally I see more designers and models that fit into what we actually see in the world, which is color. These brands deserve for their work to be shown because they work hard and are passionate about what they do.

What was your journey to being signed to the agency you are with currently? 

I'm 23 years old now. Even though I started modeling pretty late, I do think that I was able to build more confidence and make better choices that fit where I want my career to go. 

Offshore Agency has been great to me. It’s not a traditional agency. I would describe it as more like a family dynamic. I can go to my agent about any issues that I’m having and trust that I'll be taken care of. 

Although you are a fresh face, is there any advice you could offer fellow models just starting out? 

Advice I would offer to models just starting out is to really focus on your goals and know what you're willing and not willing to do. In a career like this, there’s always this fear of “What you won’t do, another model will do”. It may seem like the end of the world if you pass on an opportunity that you’re not comfortable with, but there are jobs out there that will fit into what you want to do.

In terms of fashion, who are some of your early influences?

I grew up with parents who dated in the 70’s. The disco era has had a great influence on me, from artists like Donna Summer, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, to KC and The Sunshine Band. The fashion too as well—the bell bottoms, sequins, glitter and florals. I was able to witness some of those iconic influences through the music videos and performances of those artists I listed earlier. I grew up watching shows like Good Times, The Jeffersons and Three’s Company. Being familiar with the mannerisms of these times hands down makes the 70’s a major influence.

I would overall describe my style as casual with a bit of edge and contemporary. My wardrobe must-haves are denim, cotton and leather. I love to pair a Gap bootcut jean with Dr. Marten leather boots.

What’s the best advice you’ve received since you entered the industry? And who gave it to you?

Some of the best advice I’ve received since I entered the industry was from a model I met at a casting. She advised me to have thick skin and not take anything personal. 

Outside of modeling, what are some things that you are passionate about? 

I am into miniature architecture. It’s something I discovered on my explore page on Instagram about a year ago. I've always been into dollhouses growing up but never ever got one. Miniature architecture to me is a way for me, as an adult, to cater to my inner child. 

Sienna Wears dress Proenza, shoes Wood House Army, tights Terrence Zhou

NAME: Sienna Fekete

AGE: 27

INSTAGRAM: @siii_siii

Where are you from?

I’m from Los Angeles! 

Would you say your upbringing shaped your view on fashion and modeling?

My mom is a dancer and I was always surrounded by an abundance of artists in her community. I think that really carved out a love of self-expression, creativity and the beauty of art.

Did you have early aspirations for a career in fashion?

When I was 12 I was absolutely obsessed with fashion design and had a little sketchbook where I’d draw out all my ideas. I also loved all the early seasons of ANTM.

How did you get your start with modeling? Where were you scouted? What was that moment like for you?

I started out modeling for friends who are designers and walking in their shows and taking photos for lookbooks and such. I would say I fell into modeling more than being scouted so to speak. It was more an extension of my community and friends doing things in fashion and asking me to be apart. When my friend Michael approached me to be a part of Offshore Agency, it felt like a natural fit which I’m really grateful for. I really appreciate when things feel seamless like that.

What was your family’s reaction to pursuing modeling? Were they initially supportive?

My family is supportive of most things I do which I greatly appreciate. I think I also beat them to the punch on any hesitation around it having already gotten my BA and MA. Education comes first for them so I got my foundation for any creative endeavor I take on.

As a model of color in the industry what has your experience been? Do you feel like there has been any change/growth in the past few years?

Just observing I’ve seen a lot of small changes happening here and there, but there is definitely a lot more work to be done. My experience has been relatively positive so far. I think having more diverse hair and makeup teams is also essential, knowing how to make Black skin shine and having the right products to match a spectrum of shades, and for photographers to be able to capture our beauty is essential. I’ve had folks on set who are absolutely terrified or clueless to even touch my locs, but I’m surprised and happy to see more folks of color on set who know how to work with a variety of hair textures and styles.

Ideally what does the future of fashion look like to you?

Body diversity, no space for colorism, and more creative autonomy and leadership for people of color.

What was your journey to being signed to the agency you are with currently?

Offshore Agency is such a family. I’m new and just getting to know everyone, but I’m treated with such care and positive energy. From management to the models, there is such a level of being taken care of and supporting one another.

Although you are a fresh face, is there any advice you could offer fellow models just starting out?

Believe in yourself, you got it, find your inner confidence, and kindness goes a long way.

In terms of fashion, who are some of your early influences?

Joy Bryant in the movie Honey, Valerie June and her iconic locs, Mel B of The Spice Girls and all her looks in the Spice World movie, and Missy Elliot music videos.

What has been your favorite moment in your career thus far?

I loved the shoot I got to do with La Réunion because the clothes were gorgeous, felt amazing to wear, and we got to shoot on the beach at The Rockaways. As a Cancer, I felt very in my element. I also loved getting to walk in two SC103 shows. Their runway concepts are always fab and there’s so much energy!

How would you describe your style? Do you have any wardrobe staples you couldn’t live without?

Friends always tease me that I always wear baggy pants and a tiny top. I feel like my style is constantly evolving and dependent on my mood. Being tall I love to wear silhouettes that honor that. I love a good oversize fit, suits, patterns and prints, monochromatic looks, and anything that feels really good to wear.

What’s the best advice you’ve received since you entered the industry? And who gave it to you?

Trust, my therapist. (Laughs) 

Outside of modeling, what are some things that you are passionate about?

I’m a curator, producer, and maker of podcasts and radio. I host a podcast called Points of View for CULTURED Magazine, which has been amazing. Season 1’s guests so far have included Paloma Elsesser, Kimberly Drew, Jenna Wortham, Rowan Blanchard, Kelsey Lu, and July’s episode will be with Eartheater. I appreciate that all of these conversations have been with friends in my community who I am able to speak freely and have intimate dialogues with. I am also the co-founder of a creative studio called Chroma that I run with my friends Ladin Awad and June Canedo. Our mission is to amplify women of color across industries and create a network of support and creativity on our own terms. We’ve hosted conferences, screenings, exhibitions, workshops, fundraisers, and have a podcast called CHROMA RADIO. You can listen back to the archive here: https://soundcloud.com/user-429341338

Credits:

Photography: Augusto Silva Alliegro

Fashion: Sun Zhique

Makeup: Elika Hilata (Using M.A.C Cosmetics

Hair: Kim Garduno

Photo Assistant: Giulia Jimenez-Tania

Fashion Assistants: Aiya Karim and Loulou Shafram

Makeup Assistant: Yuka Ito

Special Thanks:  Off Shore Agency, Major Models, APM Models

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