I was first introduced to Aria via the Face of Grenada Competition. She finished 2nd in the competition and I was impressed by her efforts.
Afterwards, we connected via Facebook and I began to follow her activities along with a few of the other models from the competition.
Photo by Kelon Pascal
Aria was determined to get her name ‘out there’ and soon had a “GoFundMe” / “Fund a Caribbean Model” account in hopes of getting to Caribbean New York Fashion Week.
Well, she was successful in getting there and I saw a story worth telling, so the minute Nu Woman had an opportunity, we sat and talked with this island girl about her first experience in the Big Apple.
Nu Woman: How did you get the invite to attend Caribbean New York Fashion Week?
Aria Francis: My manager, Annette Moore, got in touch with the organizer of the event, Carla Hazel, who then invited me to participate.
Photos by Kelon Pascal
NW: Whose idea was it to “Fund a Caribbean Model”? Aria: It was my Manager’s and my idea to try a crowd-funding site. With this, I take the opportunity to thank everyone who contributed towards my trip. NW: When you realized you would actually be taking the trip, how did it feel? Aria: I was overjoyed knowing I was a step closer to my endeavors. It was a day of excitement and I felt blessed. Aria admits that this was her first major and international trip away from home.
“I consider this the best, because I got to experience the bigger stage, working with top designers and also experiencing casting calls and getting a call back, which was one of the greatest achievements in my modeling career.”
Aria continued, noting how important it was to show what a model from Grenada had to offer the big city.
“NYC is the world fashion stage and gateway for opportunities. because There are so many top agencies, top models, designers, film makers, experienced make-up artists and photographers, as well as other professional individuals walking in the streets of NYC.” Aria who says that she was more excited than nervous talks about her first runway experience in New York.
“My first show experience in NYC was the MODABOX runway show, which showcased fashion from that store.”
She was given a good break when she had an opportunity to model for Charles Harbison.
“Mr. Charles HARBISON (bless him), is the designer who gave me my biggest modeling break in NY.”
As a result she was featured in Vogue Italia.
NW: You seemed to be the preferred model for the Harbison show… how did that make you feel? Aria: Well I would not say I was the most preferred model for the show, but I will say that I portrayed the attitude of a model who deserves to work, a model who has the ability to cooperate and satisfy the designer and their guests. Again, anyone given this opportunity will be happy and so was I.
Aria talks about meeting Beverly Johnson, one of her idols. “Living on a tiny Caribbean Island, all I used to do was wish and work hard towards my goal. Meeting Beverly Johnson, who was the first black woman to grace the cover of Vogue magazine, was a pleasure. I knew that one day I would meet top models and superstars like her, but that very same night I felt like a supermodel.” NW: What was the most memorable thing/things about this trip? Aria: Actually, getting to walk the runway on an international stage, wearing top designers’ clothing and being able to network with key people in the industry. Aria says that she hopes to be back soon and attempts to sum up the entire experience, simply calling it “great”.
I was finally able to make it to the international level, in terms of modeling – getting to do fittings upon fittings, attend professional casting calls, improving my walk, being able to network, and experience the real modeling and fashion business – that was amazing. There were some challenging days, but I have lived long enough to understand that nothing comes easy, so at those times I had to stop, take a deep breath, relax and then move on. I must say this was an active learning experience – one where I got the kind of opportunity I’ve always wanted.”
You can see a bit more of Mr. Charles HARBISON here:
“8 Years & Eight Unique Stories”
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