WATCH LINEISY MONTERO ON THE RUNWAY

Model Lineisy Montero Debuted With A Short Afro - But Will The Fashion Industry Let Her Keep It?

BI-RACIAL MODEL Lineisy Montero caused a sensation when she debuted on the runways in short natural hair. Will her afro ultimately prove a help or a hinderance to her career? By Ben Arogundade. [Feb.14.2016]

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LINEISY MONTERO’S SPRING 2015 debut for Prada caused a sensation when she appeared with short Afro hair — the only one from a line of 41 straight-haired ponytails worn by her fellow catwalk models. Since that moment the 19-year-old has walked the runways for Loewe, Céline, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs, has featured in campaigns for Chanel and Givenchy, as well as gracing the pages of Vogue. Her rapid rise has been a dream come true. “I grew up cutting images out of magazines, and now I get to be in them,” she told Teen Vogue.

LINEISY ETHNICITY & NATIONALITY
Lineisy (pronounced Lin-a-see), is of Dominican nationality (an island in the Caribbean adjacent to Haiti), where she was raised by her single mother. She is bi-racial, and speaks Spanish but very little English, and often talks through an interpreter while she learns the language for her new vocation. The 20-year-old beauty was allegedly discovered on a roller coaster at an amusement park in her hometown of Santo Domingo.

As well as the shock of Lineisy’s mini-afro appearing on the Prada runway, it is a well-documented fact that for 15 years the fashion designer did not employ black runway models, and so the industry immediately took notice of this boyish new entrant. “I didn't expect this impact, I am just Lineisy Montero, a young girl from Santo Domingo,” she told Teen Vogue. My hair has never been a question, it’s always been natural.”

MODEL MONTERO’S AFRO
Lineisy joins actress Lupita Nyong’o as one of a very small number of celebrities of African origin who wear their hair boyishly short and natural. Strangely, Afro hair, which has traditionally been outlawed in fashion, with designers insisting that black models wear their hair pressed as straight as the white girls, actually became the catalyst for the launch of Lineisy’s career. Intermittently, the fashion industry enjoys promoting models of “difference”, and a black model with short natural hair is as different as it gets in fashion these days, amidst the trend for long straight hair. Its timing is significant also, as it comes at a moment when the return to all things natural — be it hair, cosmetics, food or medicine — is in full swing.

CURLY HAIR, STRAIGHT HAIR?
Will this be enough to sustain Montero’s career? Can she resist the industry’s pressure for black models to wear their hair straight? It remains to be seen, but Lineisy is already showing signs of the kind of level-headedness required for a long and fruitful career in modelling. When asked in her Teen Vogue interview what advice she would give any young model hopefuls, she replied instantly, “Don’t change.”

Ben Arogundade's book 'Black Beauty' is out now.

SHORT AND CURLY: Bi-racial model Lineisy Montero has reached the top without straightening her hair. Is the fashion industry finally ready to accept natural Afro hair?

The Creativity of Author, Designer & Publisher Ben Arogundade

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