Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dominican Divas and One Divo

You can't explore Dominican culture without mentioning the island's influence on fashion. In an industry that's rigidly European-centered, the Dominican Republic has managed to make a strong enough impact to be dubbed "the next Brazil." Brazil has been supplying the industry with a bevy of supermodels lead by Giselle Bundchen, for the last ten years. All the Brazilian beauties display the requisite pale skin, flowing hair and Anglo features but the Dominicans are adding much needed visibility for models of color. Sesilee Lopez, featured above with Tyra Banks, has been splashed all over Italian Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Elle and American Vogue for the last two years. Known for her pout and sassy Dominicana attitude, she's just signed a Calvin Klein fragrance contract and has been listed as a top model to watch by industry insiders.

Arlenis Sosa was discovered on the streets of Santo Domingo a few years ago and has quickly blazed a fierce fashion trail that includes walking almost every major fashion show and spreads in Italian and American Vogue. Noted for her stunning cheekbones, she's just signed a coveted Lancome cosmetics contract.

Only 17, Austria Alcantara is the newest Dominicana on the scene. She's been featured in Teen Vogue and has walked in shows for DKNY, Marchesa, Cynthia Rowley an d Alberta Ferretti for Philosophy.

And the grand divo is of course, Oscar De La Renta. A major fashion industry icon who's been awarded the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America Lifetime Achievement Award, he's the most globally known Dominican. Usually noted for his sumptuous evening gowns like the one above, he's lately become known as the designer whining about how Michelle Obama ignores established designers. Hopefully he'll get over it and realize that with four decades of prominence, it's time for new designers to be recognized. He has rallied for Arlenis Sosa, insisting that she open and close his Spring show and shows concern for his DR home by building a school, daycare center and a fashion museum that was closed for the day when I visited.


Beauty Is Diverse said...

The Dominican's are doing it big in the industry right now.

Wendy said...

I had no idea about the fashion side of the Dominican Republic. very cool.

marina villatoro said...

You know, I know very little about dominican republic, and even less about their influence on fashion. I'm truly impressed!
How is your husband doing?

Fly Brother said...

LOL @ the title of this post.

It's excellent that the true range of Dominican beauty gets featured in magazines, unlike meu querido Brasil.

Maybe one day Adriana'll have some company.

Fly Girl said...

Ebony, they are making their presence known!

Wendy,it's an aspect of the culture that you don't see unless you know the fashion industry.

Marina, Now you know! He's fine, thanks for asking.

Bro,Ahh, you know how your Brasilian peeps are. Maybe you can make a difference in Sao Paulo.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

I was unaware that the Domenicans were so big in fashion. They certainly have a sultry style.

A Cuban In London said...

Sesilee? It sounds Ethiopian. I was completely unaware of the Dominican influence on fashion, but then again I am a T-shirt and jeans bloke, so I am unaware of fashion in general. You're quite right that this industry is so European-centred that sometimes one wonders if black women wear bikinis at all!

Oscar de la Renta's name is more up my street. Yes, I've heard of him (I'm not a total ignoramus, no! :-D) and it is true that he is bringing a whole new angle to fashion. A much needed one, I would wager. Thanks for the feature.

Greetings from London.

Fly Girl said...

Jean-Luc and Cubano, I'm glad I can enlighten you London blokes about Dominican fashion!

Gennaro said...

Didn't realize that Dominican culture was so active in the fashion world. Not that I'm an expert, but so much of it is based in Paris and Milan that it's interesting to see other aspects start to push in.

Lara Dunston said...

What gorgeous girls!! No wonder they're doing so well.

Spencer said...

Stylish clothes and beautiful girls. No wonder the Dominican Republic is making a name for itself in the fashion world.

Fly Girl said...

Gennaro, yes it's true that Paris, Milan and NY are the acknowledged fashion capitals but the DR is making head way!

Lara, yes, they are gorgoeous and the range of feminine beauty is finally starting to diversify.

Spencer, I think Oscar's influence probably makes a huge difference in the island's visibility. THanks for dropping by.