Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Exclusive Interview - Cindy Bruna

When your runway resumé includes a Calvin Klein exclusive in addition to Spring/Summer 2014 appearances at Givenchy, Balmain, Alexander McQueen, and Bottega Veneta, you know that something's definitely up. For newcomer Cindy Bruna, a December 2014 Vogue Italia cover lensed by model-maker Steven Meisel and a scintillating turn on the runway at this year's annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show confirmed the Saint Raphael native's status as a bonafide breakout star amongst the current generation of runway rookies. Represented by Wilhelmina Model Management in New York, nineteen year old Bruna gives off some seriously retro supermodel vibes thanks in part to her 180 cm svelte atheltic physique, her cascading tumble of brown va-va-voom locks which engender visions of eighties top model Shari Belafonte, and the incandescent personality which translates to pure runway gold in each of her Spring/Summer 2014 appearances.

Bruna's phenomenal success may be attributed in part to the sudden embrace of a more global beauty aesthetic by casting directors and designers throughout the Spring/Summer 2014 collections. Indeed Bruna's bi-racial Italian/Congolese background and her classic relatable beauty make her a surefire choice for design houses looking to appeal to a wider demographic of potential consumers. With her luxuriant caramel skin tone, endearing puppy dog brown eyes, and her infectious heart-warming smile, Bruna has managed to eclipse the modelling field with a milestone of achievements including a Steven Meisel lensed Vogue Italia cover and a riveting debut at this year's Victoria's Secret Fashion extravaganza. Bruna took time out from her holiday festivities to chat exclusively with IMA about the sensational events of the past few months, the second family that she has found in her agency Wilhelmina Models, the imminent return of the supermodel phenomenon, and the importance of focusing on the present.

Cindy Bruna
Image courtesy of Wilhelmina Models


Inoubliable Model Army (IMA): Hi Cindy, congratulations on a magnificent Spring/Summer 2014 season and on making it onto IMA's Top 10 Newcomers list! Now that the dust has settled, have you had the chance to take in the enormity of your achievements over the past show season?
Cindy Bruna (CB): I haven't really full realised what is happening to me as yet, but I am aware that it was a really great season. I am very happy with my work and extremely proud to be on IMA's Top 10 new arrivals list.

IMA: Tell us a little about your background?
CB: My father is Italian (from Piedmont) and my mother is Congolese (from Brazzaville). My father went to live there for six years and he met my mother there. I grew up in the south of France in Frejus/St Raphael. I was discovered in Nice by Dominique from the Metropolitan Agency during a casting. That was when I started going back and forth to Paris during my school vacations.

IMA: You are the first black model in history to be accorded a Calvin Klein exclusive! Can you tell us how this exclusive booking came about and what was your reaction when you found out you had been confirmed?
CB: I found out in the office of one of my agents Roman at Wilhelmina. It was a wonderful surprise, I was very moved at first and then I had a hard time comprehending the enormity of what was transpiring. It was only on the day of the show that I really understood what was truly happening.

IMA: A lot of casting directors had diversity in mind for the Spring/Summer 2014 season, Maida & Rami for instance selected five black models for the Calvin Klein show. How does it feel to be a part of this collective of black models who are obtaining recognition within the industry? And do you think that it might possibly be only a passing trend?
CB: I am honoured to be a part of this group of black models. The industry is currently opening up to diversity more and more, and I think this phenomenon is going to continue to develop and expand.

Bottega Veneta - S/S 2014
Photographer - Yannis Vlamos
Source - style.com

Alexander McQueen - S/S 2014
Photographer - Marcus Tondo
Source - style.com

Calvin Klein - S/S 2014
Photographer - Fablo Iona
Source - style.com


IMA: Your list of Spring/Summer 2014 runway appearances included Bottega Veneta, Jean Paul Gaultier, Balmain, Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, Giorgio Armani, and of course Calvin Klein. What were your most memorable moments both on and off the runway?
CB: Each show has its own specificity, which is why I appreciated and enjoyed each one. I loved modelling for each of these brands because each moment on the catwalk was unique.

IMA: With literally hundreds of girls in attendance at casting calls during Fashion Week, what factors did you rely on to make a favourable and lasting impression?
CB: I think it is important to arrive at a casting call with a positive attitude. To let your determination and desire show through. Competition isn't a problem because regardless of what happens after a casting, it is important to stay serene and positive. You can't appeal to everyone and I think that once you understand that, nothing can bother you (personally though, I'm not afraid of competition!).

IMA: With the emergence of street style photographers and bloggers, a model's sense of style is becoming or paramount importance. How would you describe your street style and which three designers best encapsulate your street chic?
CB: My style is elegant and rock... Balmain, Givenchy, and Isabel Marant!

IMA: What was it like growing up in your home town of St Raphael and how have you adapted to life in the Big Apple?
CB: I was lucky to grow up where most French people go to spend their vacations. Therefore I have nothing to complain about. It is a beautiful city where I spent a happy childhood with my family. Leaving home has been an amazing adventure, it's at that point that I really understood what the modelling profession was and it confirmed my desire to go far in the business. I was anxious about leaving for New York, but in the end, everything went well. It is a city I like a lot. New York is a cosmopolitan city so even though I'm not American I feel at home there. And if I feel so comfortable in New York, it's because I love my bookers at Wilhelmina, they're like my second family.

Cindy Bruna
Image courtesy of Wilhelmina Models

Vogue Italia - December 2014
Photographer - Steven Meisel
Source - wearesodroee.wordpress.com

Anna Ewers, Ophélie Guillermand, Cindy Bruna & Gracie Van Gastel
Vogue Italia - December 2014
Photographer - Steven Meisel
Source - wearesodroee.wordpress.com

Cindy Bruna
Victoria's Secret
Source - CindyBruna/tumblr.com


IMA: Having the right look, at the right time, and in the right place with sound management support is vital to a model's success. What role has Wilhelmina Models played in guiding your modelling career, and what is the best advice that your agency has offered you along the way?
CB: Wilhelmina immediately believed in me and provided me with the support I needed. They knew how to put me at ease and accompanied me in each moment along the way. They became my reference point and family in this city that I didn't know.

IMA: It seems these days that every second model IMA encounters is French! What is it about French women that is contributing to the current influx of French modelling talent?
CB: I think it is because French women differentiate themselves by their authenticity and style, so this helps us to stand out.

IMA: What to you like most about your chosen profession, and do you have any specific long-term career objectives in mind?
CB: What I like most about this business is the unique moment when I am on the catwalk. I have lots of expectations but I'll keep them under wraps for the moment ;-).

IMA: Models today are encouraged to explore or develop other interests beyond modelling to add to their overall allure. What are your interests outside of fashion and modelling?
CB: I've just started taking theatre classes, and I must admit I've discovered a new passion. It gives me a chance to relax and clear my head. I also like taking care of my body and sport helps me to relieve stress.

Balmain - S/S 2014
Photographer - Monica Feudi
Source - style.com

Givenchy - S/S 2014
Photographer - Monica Feudi
Source - style.com

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show 2013
Source - CindyBruna/tumblr.com


IMA: The interest in models as public figures seems to be growing with the emergence of star models including Cara Delevingne, Kate Upton, Karlie Kloss, and Joan Smalls. Do you feel that the supermodel phenomenon of the early 90s can make a comeback?
CB: Indeed I do think this phenomenon can be revived. It can only be positive, in the sense that supermodels can become beautiful spokeswomen that serve the brands and excite the general public.

IMA: Speaking of supermodel star studded covers, you just landed Vogue Italia's December 2014 cover alongside Anna Ewers, Ophélie Guillermand, and Gracie Van Gastel. What was it like shooting with the Godfather of Modelling Steven Meisel amongst such a stunning grouping of rising stars?
CB: I am so proud. It was honour to work for Steven Meisel. He is an artist. I respect his work a lot and that is one reason why it was a real pleasure to be among his chosen models!

IMA: Another milestone of 2014 arrived in the form of a coveted spot in the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. Was it nerve wracking going through the casting process with John Pfeiffer and his casting panel, and what went through your mind as you strutted down the runway before a potential worldwide audience of millions?
CB: During the casting I was nervous, but I had been preparing for months for the event. I wanted it to be perfect. The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show is an unbelievable event and I was lucky to be part of this show. It was my dream to be a part of it and It actually came true! The day of the show I was more relaxed and confident. I was so excited and I couldn't wait to be on the catwalk!

IMA: What makes you "Inoubliable" (Unforgettable)?
CB: I think it is my zest for life, my simplicity, and my kindness. People often talk about my endless legs and my smile, so they must be two important elements aside from my personal characteristics. I think being the first model of colour in history to be a Calvin Klein exclusive might make me unforgettable, even if it may not be a notion that is very important to me. It is always better to focus on the present moment than to think about what I will leave behind. I prefer never to cheat on my future with the past.

Cindy Bruna
Image courtesy of Wilhemina Models

Cindy Bruna
Image courtesy of Wilhemina Models

Cindy Bruna
Image courtesy of Wilhemina Models

Senait Gidey, Grace Mahary, Maria Borges & Cindy Bruna
French Elle - December 2013
Photographer - Maurizio Bavutti
Source - thefashionspot.com

Special thanks to Roman Young and Ben Yang at Wilhelmina Models. For more information on Wilhelmina Models, please log onto www.wilhelmina.com and www.wilhelminanews.com

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