WILLEMSTAD – Every spring and fall, New York, London, Milan and Paris are flooded by international fashion designers who display their latest ‘haute couture’, modeled by exotic women from all parts of the world. A new generation of Curaçao models like Joline Braun and Stephany Francisca, have also penetrated these international runways. The fashion month begins in New York on September 10, passes through London and Milan and ends in Paris on October 6, 2015.
Joline Braun, who is represented by Premier Model Management and Supreme Management and lives in New York, has had a good year. Last year’s New York Fashion Week, she walked the DKNY, rag & bone, Marc Jacobs and Kanye West shows, amongst others. This fall, she wasn’t included in the regular rotation, but did walk the MillybyMichelle show in New York. During the February 2016 Spring/Summer shows, Joline is expected to be included in the regular rotation.
Curaçao has a complicated relationship with fashion. Aspirations of becoming an international model are considered a fantasy, and the local modeling industry receives little support. Miki Eustachia, a well-known model coach and owner of Emilka Model Management, wants to change that. For more than seven years, Miki has been organizing the Curaçao Model Search and is attributed in launching the careers of several local models such as Yu-lian Dijkhoff, Shafny Vierbergen, Danielle Rosalia and Mishanou Silvania. “There is a lot of local talent and we stand out in New York and London, but the platform has to grow and the contacts must expand,” she says.
Stephany Francisca, first runner up at Caribbean Next Top Model 2014 and entrepreneur who is now studying in London, can also chime in about the many challenges that a local model might encountered when trying to break through internationally. Stephany fell in love with modeling at an early age, but had to work extra hard because she was never signed by an international modeling agency.
However, she managed to walk during several ‘Fashion Week’ in New York and Paris, mainly through her courage and perseverance, since she paid her own way and went to castings to book these shows. “I admit that I started late, but I was very ambitious from an early age. For someone that had to arrange everything on her own, I made good money”, she said.
“Curaçao has a lot of potential because it’s a multicultural society, but the Curaçao model must have ‘something’. Currently, black models have to be super exotic and even ‘strange’ to stand out”, she explained. “Europe is also an alternative, because as Dutch citizens we do not need visas”, However, according to Stephany, there are few options for ethnic models in the European modeling world. The real money is made with the editorial campaigns and the promotion of beauty products, she explained. “You quickly catch on that there is a preference to mixed and light skinned models, since they are considered ‘safe’ and commercial”, she concluded.
Will there ever be a Curaçao supermodel? Stephany and Miki sure think so, but first a solid platform with proper guidance needs to be established. Both emphasized that the local model needs to work with a reputable agency that will promote her and open doors. According to Miki, it seems that the Curaçao models aren’t hungry enough to break through internationally and that parental support is crucial. “If one makes it, then the parents will start believing in modeling, like they believe in baseball,” Stephany concluded.