By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ | The Associated Press
The young Cuban models in training strutted down the runway in an old colonial mansion in Old Havana with a singular Caribbean style.
Hips swinging a bit more than they usually do on the average New York catwalk, the girls and young women from the Aragne modeling school showed off mostly clothing styled on the colonial era.
Wearing long, white unstructured dresses decorated with lace, they sported elaborate combs in their hair and carried fans.
Both male and female models train at the small school, which aims to prepare them for a world in fashion—a sector still little developed in a communist-run country whose government rejects commercialism.
“In other countries, models are ‘constructed,’ ” said modeling teacher Gisela de la Barca. “We have to work three times as hard and almost always we have to keep up with other jobs or studies.”
Ivis de la Cruz, foreground, practices on the runway along with Yadira Graham at the Aragne Modeling School in Havana, Cuba. Fashion is a sector that is still little developed in a communist-run country whose government rejects commercialism.
“Mostly we do this for love of the art,” she said as she put the finishing touches on a student’s hairstyle.
Although the girls and young women ranging from 13 to 24 years practice at the school twice a week, the teacher said few will ever step on to an international runway.
“I think that the foreign (modeling) agencies haven’t discovered the Cuban woman at this level, or we haven’t had the opportunity to let them know her,” she said.
Nine young men are also enrolled at the school, but they did not participate in the show, recently held in honor of the late Cuban songstress Rosita Fornes, who was popular in the 1950s.
Yadira Graham prepares herself backstage for a fashion show by designer Ismael de la Caridad.
All of the students receive training in runway work and photo sessions and some work as product models at events.
“I want to be a professional model,” 14-year-old Marianna Vazquez said, touching up her makeup backstage.
“I like working with Cuban models,” said designer Ismael de la Caridad. “They walk like they are singing, with cadence and an unmatchable flavor.”