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Vânia Aguiar le Blogue – Transcending Perfection

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Proofread and copy edited by Carol Martin

Far away from her home in São Paulo, Brazil, model Vânia Aguiar was backstage at an Yves Saint Laurent show in Tokyo, Japan, when her ears perked up. During the fashion show for the luxury brand’s 25th anniversary tour, a Brazilian song began to play.

Aguiar began to dance the samba, a traditional Brazilian ballroom dance, and she remembers making Yves Saint Laurent, one of the most famous designers in the world, laugh. “He was such a sweetheart,” Aguiar recalls. “It was such a great but very close moment with a huge designer.”

Vânia Aguiar for Yves Saint Laurent HC SS 1985
Vânia Aguiar for Yves Saint Laurent RTW FW 1985 via dozydawn on Tumblr

Early Life and Career

Aguiar’s entry into the fashion industry was somewhat accidental. She studied communications and journalism in Brazil before falling in love with a Canadian and moving with him to Quebec in 1982, where she began her career as a model.

Audrey Morris Modelling Agency in Montreal signed her, and she worked in Canada until a Parisian agency, Glamour, became interested in her as well. “In the first season, I did more than 25 fashion shows in Paris,” Aguiar says, “with the big, big names like Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy and Valentino.”

Aguiar loved the decadence and extravagance of working in high fashion. She remembers a trip to Greece with Yves Saint Laurent, where she was one of 34 models presenting the new fragrance. They all sat in a private plane with journalists waiting for them outside on the tarmac. Aguiar says they asked all the models to put on their red Yves Saint Laurent lipstick and a pair of sunglasses before exiting the plane gracefully in front of the press.

“I loved that time; they treated us as superstars,” she says. “We really felt like we were treated like queens.”

I never sensed that I needed to defend who I am because I am Brazilian and I’m half-Black.” She also felt uplifted by the community of Black women around her.

Photographer: Laurence Chagnon

 

 

 

 

 

Breaking Barriers

As a Black model, after the emergence of supermodel Iman, Aguiar says she always thought of her race as an asset. “Nobody ever stopped me to say anything negative about my colour. I always felt positive about it,” she says. “I never sensed that I needed to defend who I am because I am Brazilian and I’m half-Black.”

She also felt uplifted by the community of Black women around her. “They always have inspired me with the way they use their colour to support other people [of colour],” she says. “To make people understand that the beauty of people has no colour.”

Aguiar believes that to increase diversity in the fashion industry, models have to have the courage to try new things. She remembers when Japanese designer, Issey Miyake only cast Japanese models, until she went to one casting and booked the show. After she was cast, she says more Japanese designers began casting Black models. “It’s a matter of trying something,” she says. “I think they’ve learned a lot since then.”

“In the first season, I did more than 25 fashion shows in Paris,” Aguiar says, “with the big, big names like Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, and Valentino.”

Influence and Legacy

After becoming pregnant with her daughter, Aguiar decided to slow down and focus on other aspects of the industry. She wrote for and became the editor of a few different fashion magazines, as well as starting her own blog.

However, Aguiar is most proud of the charity she began 20 years ago. Fondation Les Petits Rois is a Montreal organization that aims to improve the future of children with disabilities.

Aguiar’s son was born with intellectual disabilities, which made her reconsider a lot of her beliefs. “It was a wakeup call for me, being in this beauty and fashion perfection industry, and then I have a little kid that has special needs,” she says.

Aguiar plans to continue working with her foundation to reduce some of the challenges that children with intellectual disabilities face. “They are different, but not that different, because we are all different, right?” she says. “They are gorgeous kids. They are beautiful. They are just different.”

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After a successful career in fashion, the model is focusing on fulfillment over flawlessness.

After a successful career in fashion, she’s focusing on fulfillment over flawlessness

NameVânia Aguiar le BlogueBirthplaceSão Paulo, BrazilEthnic OriginBrazilian, BlackOccupationsModel, EditorShare

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