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Lancôme has added an up-and-comer to its stable of spokesmodels: Arlenis Sosa, a 19-year-old former student discovered in her home country of the Dominican Republic this past April.
This story first appeared in the September 5, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“Arlenis possesses beauty, intelligence, charm and compassion,” said Odile Roujol, president of Lancôme. “All of our brand ambassadors share these attributes, so we knew she would be a wonderful addition. We are very proud to welcome her to the Lancôme family.”
Sosa was discovered on her way to a college class by a designer, who sent a shot of her to Marilyn Agency’s Peter Cedeño. She arrived in the U.S. this spring, signed with the Marilyn Agency and for a first assignment joined top models of color — including Iman, Veronica Webb, Alek Wek and Chanel Iman — in posing for the now-famous Italian Vogue “A Black Issue.” She has also worked with Mario Testino, Steven Meisel and Greg Kadel, and has appeared in American Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and was featured in a major story in the July 2008 issue of American Vogue called “Is Fashion Racist?” by Vicki Woods.
“I’m so blessed to be given this opportunity,” said Sosa, quite earnestly, during an interview at Lancôme’s Manhattan offices. “One minute I am walking down the street in the Dominican Republic and the next minute I am coming to the U.S. for the first time and working with famous models like Liya Kebede and Chanel Iman and photographers like Steven Meisel, and appearing in ads for a major company like Lancôme. It’s really unbelievable.”
Sosa’s first ads for Lancôme have been shot in New York by Dusan Reljin; they will break in 2009, although a firm run date has not yet been set. Lancôme declined to comment on the length of her contract or her compensation, but did say that Sosa will be featured in ads for multiple beauty categories.
Sosa will walk in her first runway shows this season at New York Fashion Week, which begins today. She is confirmed for a number of shows, including Oscar de la Renta (“He is like a king in the Dominican Republic!” said Sosa of her countryman), Carolina Herrera and Narciso Rodriguez. “My mom is coming to see me in the shows,” said Sosa, noting that the fashion week jaunt will be her mother’s first trip outside of the Dominican Republic. “Everyone’s so happy and excited!”
Sosa joins brand pitchers Anne Hathaway, Kate Winslet, Clive Owen, Juliette Binoche, Daria Werbowy, Elettra Rossellini Wiedemann, Selena Breed and Inés Sastre at Lancôme.
Speaking of her Italian Vogue job, Sosa said she was somewhat starstruck upon arriving at the set. “I was seeing my idols, like Iman, Alek Wek and Veronica Webb — the women who broke barriers and opened the door for me. They were all so friendly and treated me like their friend.” Another starstruck moment came as Sosa watched fellow spokesmodel Winslet’s commercial for Lancôme’s Trésor fragrance. “She has such a confidence,” said Sosa. “I hope to be that confident.”