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modeling & talent ● modeling By Eve Matheson Breaking Barriers Models from countries that have never been synonymous with fashion are suddenly finding success as the industry opens more doors T he thought-provoking new movie 42 is the story of the iconic black baseball player Jackie Robin- son, who broke Major League Baseball’s infa- mous color barrier at a time when racial bigotry was rampant. This historic moment opened the door to a new era, in which other career barriers, including race, creed, age, gen- der, snobbery and social standing, were torn down. I am very aware of the significant part the modeling industry has played in these areas when I judge various events, especial- ly the annual International Model and Talent Association conventions. It is so uplifting to see hundreds of contestants from various parts of the world supporting one another, quite oblivious to skin color, nationality, political or reli- gious beliefs, education, or social background. On a much broader scale, China and the Middle East have become significant players in the fashion industry breaking cultural barriers along the way. This year, super- model Fei Fei Sun became the first Chinese model to grace the cover of Italian Vogue. Despite mega-controversy, some Muslim women are also slowly breaking through their cul- ture’s barriers, thanks to the courage and determination of models like Israeli Arab Huda Naccache and Tunisia’s first supermodel, Hana Ben Abdesslem. Chinese and Middle Eastern women love designer clothes and luxury goods, and they have more money to spend on them these days than their European and Amer- ican counterparts. Realizing this, top designers have opened boutiques and staged fashion shows in these lucra- tive markets. In the United Kingdom—specifically London, the hottest fashion city in the world—another type of barrier, 30 PAGEANTRY CARA DELEVINGNE class distinction, has been broken. Models from opposite ends of the social scale walk the runways in the same shows and compete for the same beauty campaigns. The aristocratic models—or ‘aristos’ as they are called— who years ago would never have been taken seriously or do anything as unacceptable as work, are now very much in de- mand. I was surprised to learn from their agents that their work ethic is impeccable. They are the ultimate profession- als. Born into high society, they are not interested in the glitzy trappings of a modeling career, which so often ruins the chances of girls from challenged economic back- grounds. Supermodel Stella Tennant, is the granddaughter of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, and her parents are the Hon. Tobias William Tennant and Lady Emma Cavendish. Supermodel Kate Moss shot to fame and for- tune from very humble beginnings. Both girls happily share the same spotlight as the darlings of designers, photogra- phers and magazine editors. I was thinking about all of this as I went through my email and read the following question: Q: “CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT BRITISH MODEL CARA DELEVINGNE? IS SHE THE NEW KATE MOSS? ARE HER EYEBROWS REAL?”