We’ve teamed up with the British Fashion Council on “How To Become”, a video series spotlighting careers in fashion.
Cindy Bruna covers the Spring 19 issue of Wonderland
Cindy Bruna covers the Spring 19 issue of Wonderland
Introducing our brand new video series “How To Become”, spotlighting only the most innovative and boundary-pushing names in fashion. We’ve teamed up with the British Fashion Council to explore careers in fashion and their unusual trajectories, with trailblazing talent interviewed by Wonderland’s Editor-in-Chief Toni-Blaze.
Watch the interview now, or read a shortened version of the interview below…
Thank you for joining me Cindy, just to anyone who’s watching right now, welcome to the British Fashion Council x Wonderland “How to Become” series. My name is Toni-Blaze Ibekwe and I’m Editor-in-chief of Wonderland magazine and I’m joined by the gorgeous super model Cindy Bruna. Let’s go to the beginning of your journey – what was growing up like for you?
So, I’m French but my mother is Congolese and my dad, he’s Italian. And I grew up in the south of France, my parents met and got married in Congo and my sister was born in Congo and then they moved to the south of France where I was born. I was raised by my mum with African values, around family, respect, you know, sharing, hard work, discipline and, you know, I grew up eating African dishes, listening to African music and I also had my dad who shared his love for nature and respect for others. He used to be a beekeeper and a shepherd and then he moved to Africa where he stayed for six years, met my mum, he was the first of his family to marry and African woman so, I feel like he taught me really love and respect others.
What were your earliest memories of fashion as a child?
I didn’t even know that modelling was a real job. I do remember growing up, watching the L’oreal commercial and, you know, playing and being in front of my mirror and being like, you know “because I’m worth it”. And I just signed with L’Oreal Paris, which was a dream and just incredible and as a French model and woman and being the new face of such iconic brands means so much.
Who did you look up to when you were younger?
Obviously Naomi Campbell and she carved the way for so many of us as women of colour and, I think she’s the queen. But also, I feel like when I started my career, I also met Azzedine Alaïa, and I learned from him; I didn’t know anything about fashion and being immersed in the industry and discovering him as a person and as a brilliant designer, really made me appreciate everything in the industry and the whole idea was so new to me when I started it, that I just started to dream. I started to see myself in Paris and becoming a model.
I want to talk about Calvin Klein in 2012. You were the first woman of colour to walk exclusive for Calvin Klein – how was that experience for you?
Looking back, I don’t think I really realised the weight of it. Today I realised how much we have to push to bring positive change to the industry, because I was the first one but in 2012, but I feel like people of all backgrounds deserve representation, both on and off the runway, and every step is really important.
Why do you feel that representation with regards to women of colour in the industry is so important?
I feel like it’s about giving future generation’s confidence in their own beauty and ability. And if this standard of beauty is too narrow and there is no inclusion, then you are not giving women of colour the value they really and truly deserve, and that’s what needs to change for sure.
Now let’s talk about the infamous, amazing Victoria’s Secret runway…
Victoria’s Secret is one of the hardest castings to go through, and it’s a show that really gave an important push to my career and to many other careers. Like walking this show for six years was an incredible experience and I feel like every year was so incredible, like we started in New York, then went to London then New York again. We also went to China, Paris, like it was just like such a good experience and moment. And during the first season I was so so touched by many models who were angels at that time and they all really made me feel included and feel being part of the family, like I remember Adriana Lima welcome in the new girls and really making us feel like, feel special and I really admire that so much.
(LEFT) Cindy Bruna walks for Victoria’s Secret in 2013
(RIGHT) Cindy Bruna in Vivienne Westwood
Cindy Bruna walks for Victoria’s Secret in 2013
Cindy Bruna in Vivienne Westwood
You’ve also use your platform to talk about domestic violence issues – why was that so important to you?
Domestic violence is a crisis and a cause really close to my heart. You know, in France, a woman is killed every three days by her partner or ex-partner and many more around the globe and I feel like it is our responsibility to end domestic violence because we can all be part of the solution and even if we haven’t experienced it ourselves, we can still do something. It’s all about calling for help or helping a woman if you see that something is off, its about reaching out to survivors, its about donating to organisations that are working tirelessly on the frontline and keeping the children safe. Every society is not untouched and it is our responsibility and we can add to or work to eliminate violence against women, and that’s what I’m trying to do.
How do you know when a job is right for you?
Managing a career feels like playing chess sometimes. So I usually have like long talks with my agents and I know they want the best for me and I trust their judgement.
What do you love most about your job?
Travelling, for sure, and I miss it right now. Also meeting inspiring people and meeting talent and artists, this is what I love.
(LEFT) Cindy Bruna walks for Victoria’s Secret in 2016
(RIGHT) Cindy Bruna on a catwalk
Cindy Bruna walks for Victoria’s Secret in 2016
Cindy Bruna on a catwalk
For younger models that want to get into the industry, and form a career in the industry, what advice would you give them?
How to listen because when you’re on set with a photographer, you need to understand that what they want from you and how to move so you really need to learn how to listen and then to your agent because they really want the best for you. It’s teamwork, so when you’re on shoot or when you are on the runway, if they want you to look straight or smile or dance on the runway just do it because that’s what they want from you. It’s all about partnership and listening to what the client and the photographer wants and that’s actually the most important. When I’m saying when to listen, its not about doing everything if you don’t feel comfortable of course, don’t even do it and call your agent and leave the set if you have to leave the set. But I feel like I had the chance to work with people who really always wanted the best for me and had the best interest in mind for me, so I never had that issue but I do feel like if you’re in front of that situation, speak up. Don’t do something you’re not comfortable with, but usually when you’re working with the photographer and he wants you to do something, like to move that way or be free or, you know, smile, laugh, just its because they want the best result or the best picture and I really feel like its a partnership and we all want the same thing at the end is to have a great results.
You also walked the very last ever Jean Paul Gaultier runway, tell me about that experience.
It was so sad, but at the same time I was so happy for him. Jean Paul Gaultier was one of the first designers who booked me, so it was really really emotional and at the same time so iconic and great show, like it was major.
What do you love about London fashion week and British designers?
What I really love about London is the level of creativity and the freedom that British designers have. A lot of British designers really bring their creativity to an international audience and that’s really what I love. You can see Vivienne Westwood’s show in Paris, and you can see the balance between commercial and creativity with British designers. I’m also obsessed with seeing, you know, Victoria Beckham show in New York or Ozwald Boateng in New York. I also love Riccardo Tisci being in London and in such an iconic British brand which is Burberry, you know. I also love young designers and I feel like they’re really championing creativity such as Richard Malone and Ashley Williams, they just great. I don’t know how they do this, it’s just amazing to actually see the shows and I get inspired by them.
Where do you see the modelling industry going?
I think the future of modelling is something we can never predict but for sure as we reopen we’ll all have a new appreciation of this job and the people we work closely with and I hope we continue to have a spirit of collaboration so that we can create together and continue to inspire.
What advice would you give to young models?
The advice I would give to a young model is actually the same I would give to myself. It’s to not worry, to not be scared, evidently we are in a really uncertain time, take care of yourself and your well-being. It’s about enjoying each opportunity to the fullest and, you know, going for it. The industry will evolve, we’ll go out of it stronger and we’re not done yet.
Thank you so much for joining me on the British Fashion Council x Wonderland “How to Become” series, I’ve Toni-Blaze Ibekwe and I’m Editor-in-chief of Wonderland magazine. I’m going to leave you to enjoy your gorgeous day, thank you Cindy.