This November, we would be rolling out episodes of the #BrandsWeLove series in collaboration with The TopNuch. The 6-episode web video series, would feature exclusive interviews from Black founders and creatives as they let us into their world and what it takes to build a brand from the ground up, whether personal or as a company.
For our 2nd episode, we are diving into the life and behind-the-scenes of Mariana Vassequi, a Brazilian-born fashion model who is currently working in Paris. We learn about her love for fashion, black-owned businesses, and her passion for her community as she speaks exclusively with The Prazzle Team.
In her words with us, she shared her Journey into the modeling scene. She stated that she did not start off her career initially as a model but studied Social Science in school. Her transition into modeling began in a very distinctive manner.
While at a bookstore, she came across a photographer who stopped and convinced her to take some pictures. Marianna at this time, had no idea how to pose and didn't feel confident enough to do so. Despite this, she gave it her best shot, and was thrilled with the outcome!
“I first fell in love with the art of photography and it transformed into modeling. Very soon, I realised my calling found me. This was also a perfect opportunity to showcase my culture and Afro background through my career.”
The act of photography was her first attraction which transformed into modeling. Marianna went further to share an experience she once had behind the scenes of a luxury fashion show. One that showed a glimpse of the discrimination and negligence black models face in the industry.
“Just recently, I was booked for this show and was so excited! However, on the day of the show, everyone was nervous. All the models were busy trying to do the usual last-minute fittings, getting their hair and makeup done or finding ways to relieve the stress before the big moment; At that rush hour, the glam team walked up to me and had no make up for my skin tone, they had no idea how to handle my Afro and I was told to do it myself.”
Owing to this, she expanded on the need for a lot of brands to come to terms with having a more diverse crew. However, while we crave for change, models are constantly faced with situations like these. Over 70% of black models have faced some type of discrimination and neglect in the industry.
“I am the model; this is my job, make-up and hair are an art and a completely different skill set. But I sucked it up and did my best, especially when the time was limited and the pressure was on. I did it all but shouldn’t have to. We want to see change with more diverse models as well as diverse and/or educated staff."
In her bid to express and deform these acts of negligence towards black models, she believes if we speak up about this more often, brands would be forced to listen more.
Marianna urged that the lack of inclusivity should never be normalised in order to promote unity amongst models of every race in the industry. She sees her hair and skin as a significant part of her beauty the world needs to embrace.
"My hair is my message and I will keep my Afro. My melanin is my beauty and the world needs to get used to it. I will continue to contribute to the change of our beauty standards. Especially in the luxury industry; Representation is so important."
While speaking with our team and selecting her outfit, we got a glimpse of some of her favourite black owned brands. Discovering she got to know lots of artists and black owned brands through "Prazzle" is proof that our effort to make black owned brands seen and promoted is fruitful.
She shared the following with us;
“Doing this interview with Prazzle is super special for me. They get it.
I discovered many artists and black owned brands through them to which I am going to wear today. Styled by the lovely Régina.
I love mixing my brands and wearing outfits that I genuinely love and feel good in!”
Marianna gracefully expressed how Paris has welcomed her with open arms in the last 8 months, thus, having the best moments of her life.
“I have travelled all over the world, had many experiences and Paris stole my heart.
The city, food, people and work suit me here for now. I wouldn’t choose anywhere else to work. On the days off, I enjoy the city. I enjoy the cliché picnic with wine, cheese and a good book as well as the architecture, famous Paris landmarks and its charming cafés.”
After her photo shoot and video interview with our team, with the Eiffel Tower in plain sight, she sipped on a cup of coffee. The day with Mariana was coming to a close. Finally, in our last and closing words with her, she spoke about the need to be financially independent and educated as a black model.
Mariana concluded that;
“Financial Independence is vital. As black women, holding economic power should be our goal. I think it is important that black models are financially educated, building income through multiple streams.
This in turn will allow us to refuse jobs that do not correspond with our values. This is our freedom.”
Watch Full Interview Here 👇🏾
See more photos from the shoot here
Meet the Team :
Artistic Direction @thetopnuch @thetopnuchshop
Assistant director @rosemaryosuya
Make up @bukanlaruth
Blouse and dress - @mossi.officiel
Skirt - @sarakule_
Socks - @eirene_socks
Earrings ÉLIO - @ledressingdezanakara
Dress and trench coat - @toucoulor_paris
Necklaces and earrings - @azobe_boutique
Bag - Paul Elle @paulelle