There's buzz in the industry that the best new faces are from the Dominican Republic. Alongside Lineisy Montero, 22-year-old Ysaunny is doing her country proud. 'The agents and directors back home always said we were ugly,' she muses. 'But as soon as we went to another country, they loved us. It's good we're teaching people that not only light skin is good in a black country.' Ysaunny's dark skin is comple- mented by deep brown eyes and hair that's shaved tight to the side with volume on top. Despite the tough start, she misses her home country since relocating to New York a few months ago: 'The life here is too fast – I miss the beach and the warm weather.' She became a model by chance; she was scouted after a friend dragged her to a cast- ing without telling her where they were going until they got to the front door. Upon arrival, her friend talked her into wearing heels for the first time in her life. She won a place in the final of a modelling contest, but backed out because her father needed surgery and she couldn't pay the entry fee. The agency boss waived it and, after a brief break to finish studying at school, she ended up in Paris walking for Kenzo and Dior. 'They were my first shows,' she says, 'but I didn't know who Kenzo was, or Christian Dior!'
She's aware of the pressures that come from the current fashion landscape and consequently, she's fiercely private. 'I never talk about relationships. The day I want to do it, I'll do it through social media. I'll do it for myself,' she explains. She's also pragmatic about the industry's complex reputation when it comes to diversity, and acknowledges there are problems with stylists not being able to do her hair or make-up, making her too yellow or rendering her face a different colour to her neck. But she's optimistic: 'You see more dark skin girls now. When I started, there were just a few black girls in each show. In New York at Zac Posen's AW16 show, only two white girls walked. There are also more Latina girls. Everything is changing.'
Despite the big break, her dreams are much the same as they ever were. She's adamant that she'll return home one day to take up a career in the police force or the army, as she always aspired to. 'My whole family is in the air force – I really want to do it.' However, for Ysaunny the career choice of 'model' isn't exactly easy either. 'I would love to record a video of everything I do, every moment. Running from castings, getting turned down. Waiting for seven hours on a sofa to be seen then getting a two-second thanks. People think we all have private jets and that we're all Kardashians and Hadids. It's not like that. It's hard.'
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