Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Born in the Dominican Republic and scouted while at an amusement park, Lineisy Montero has, through her image, changed beauty standards since her runway debut and spread black girl magic to the world. Initially a muse for the Italian grande dame Miuccia Prada, she’s since walked for Versace, J.W. Anderson, Fendi, Dior, Chanel and Givenchy (just to name a few) and appeared on the cover of i-D, Teen Vogue and Dazed. With beauty described by the Telegraph’s Emily Cronin as “straight out of a Modigliani painting” it’s the 20-year-old’s ability to take on different personas which has seen her become one of the most sought-after models in the industry. Her natural hair caused waves when she first entered the fashion world, an afro in a sea of slicked-back ponytails. As much as I love fashion, it’s an industry which historically has lacked ethnic diversity and promoted western beauty standards to the detriment of feminism and the mental health of women everywhere. In fact, between 1993 and 2008, there was not a single black model on the Prada runway and prior to Malaika Firth becoming the face of the Prada 2013 campaign, Naomi Campbwell was the last black woman to hold the same achievement in 1994. But things are changing, albeit very slowly. While this shouldn’t be newsworthy, the ruckus over her natural hair seemed to surprise Montero.
"I didn't expect this impact, I am just Lineisy Montero, a young girl from Santo Domingo. My hair has never been a question, it's always been natural. I didn't do anything special except walking in the shows. I see now that is a big thing for the fashion industry so I am of proud of it. If it changes the mentality in the business for models like me I would be very happy."
The Models.com analytics on Montero’s runway appearances are insane. Between June 2015 and May 2016 she walked in 151 runway shows, opening six and closing one and for autumn/winter 2016 she clocked up 61 shows. Her spring/summer campaign has already started, starring in over 30 catwalk shows prior to Paris Fashion Week. While one could hardly call her a veteran within the space of four seasons, she’s a model in high demand and everyone wants to book Lineisy Montero. It’s her incredible work ethic, along with versatility and evident gratitude towards her clients that sees her get rebooked again and again, says Amanda Bretherton, president of Next London. That very same versatility is what’s tipped to ensure her longevity within this industry, however, she’s not prepared to be part of tokenism within fashion. "I will just continue to be myself. I want to exist and be recognised for my work and who I am, not only because of my hair or my skin colour."
Long criticized for promoting a very narrow ideal of beauty, casting director Brokaw and Miuccia Prada have made a step in the right direction, and it makes a very important transition. Finally, a black woman with an afro has become one of the most beautiful faces on the planet, and muse to some of the fashion industry’s greatest geniuses. Elle UK fashion features director Kenya Hunt goes as far as to say the move signaled to other brands they could give themselves permission to embrace black beauty in all its wonderful variations. “I’ve noticed a little positive change,’ Montero says. ‘Before, in fashion shows, all the models were blonde with straight hair, but now there are always two or three morenas [women with dark complexions] with natural hair. But there’s still a little way to go.” With her demeanor, enviable figure and mesmerizing dark eyes, Lineisy Montero has proven she has everything it takes to walk the runway for the biggest names in ready-to-wear and couture fashion. Put simply, she represents a new generation of models, embodying the multi-faceted woman, atypical and diverse.