22-year-old model Ysaunny Brito was immediately the coolest girl on set when she walked in wearing combat boots, a Public School ensemble, and had her hair spiked in a perfectly messy mohawk. Born in the Dominican Republic, she was also the coldest girl on set, and was already feeling homesick after spending the winter holidays on the beach. Funnily enough though, despite growing up in Santo Domingo, she actually hates the water, and doesn’t really know how to swim. Instead, she spends her time in New York City playing guitar and video games from the safety of her couch. When she’s not walking the runway, of course. This season, she’s off to a strong start with Tommy Hilfiger in Los Angeles and Jeremy Scott in New York. And fashion month is only just beginning!
It must be hard being in New York in the wintertime. Yes, it’s horrible for me!
What do you do to stay sunny when you’re here? When I’m here, I like to play guitar for fun. I also play a lot of video games.
Do you play acoustic or electric guitar? Acoustic. I’ve been playing for around five years, but I stopped when I became a model. I’m just now getting back into it. Right now, I’m learning to play the Nirvana version of The Man Who Sold the World.
And what video games do you like to play? So far, my favorite is Grand Theft Auto 5 because I can play online with my cousin and all my friends back home. Then Call of Duty and Need for Speed. My favorite games are car games and shooting games.
When did you get into modeling? How were you discovered? When I was 14, my cousin tried to get me into modeling and I said no because it’s a really weird thing in my country. We have a different type of model there. My parents didn’t want me to be a model from the beginning. When I turned 18, my cousin took me again to an Elite model casting. She didn’t tell me where we were going, so I was surprised when I opened the door and saw all these tall and beautiful girls altogether. I entered the Elite modeling contest and I won for my country. They sent us to China and I made it into the top 15. After that, I started my career in Paris with Kenzo, then Louis Vuitton.
What do you mean when you say that models in the Dominican Republic are different? Because they’re Caribbean, the type of girls they like aren’t skinny. You have to have curves.
So you were tall and skinny and went to Paris. Yeah, back home they were like, ‘Mmmmm no.’
What were some challenges that you faced in the beginning of your career? Not speaking English was really hard for me. I also had a nanny walking with me around Paris when I was 18. I couldn’t do anything. If I wanted to go somewhere for a drink, she was like, ‘No, you have to go to castings.’ It was also really hard to walk in high heel shoes. I’d never tried walking in them before. Platforms, too.
How would you describe your personal style? Cool and simple. I’m one of those girls who, when I want to dress girly, I go really girly. And when I want to dress boyish, I go in-between.
Who are your style icons? P!nk. I have to say, I love her style. When I was growing up, I wanted to be like her and have her haircut. Also Naomi Campbell. She’s amazing. There’s no other words. And Sandra Bullock. I met her recently and, oh my god, she’s so beautiful.
What’s your hair routine? My hair! I’m really picky, so I have a specific routine every morning. I wash my hair, blow dry it, and then use a flatiron. Sometimes, I spend more time on my hair than my skin, to be honest.
Has it always been in a mohawk? I had an afro when I was growing up, and then I relaxed it to be straight when I was 19.
What’s your skin routine at the beach? I use sunscreen, but I actually don’t swim at all.
But wait, you’re from the Dominican Republic! Do you know how to swim? A little bit. I grew up on an island, so my dad took me to the beach every single Sunday to try to teach me how to swim. But I was too scared! I can sit in the boat, I can chill on the beach, but I’m scared of animals and seaweed.
If you weren’t modeling, what would you be doing? I’d probably be in the Air Force. One of my brother is in the Air Force back home and the other is in the Army. So that was always my plan, but now everything changed.
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