Arlenis Sosa and Eniko’s Rise From Obscure to Off the Charts

Meet Arlenis Sosa and Eniko, two global beauties taking the style world by storm.

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Appeared In
Special Issue
Beauty Inc issue 02/13/2009

Meet Arlenis Sosa and Eniko, two global beauties taking the style world by storm.

With her razor-sharp Slavic cheekbones and a seductively devilish smile that turns up at the corners, the 20-year-old Hungarian stunner Eniko has proven herself amazingly versatile among modeling’s elite. Her big break came after being booked as a background girl in a Gucci campaign, but she’s been front and center ever since. Although her name literally translates into “deer” in English, Eniko doesn’t seem startled by the din she’s created. She’s a particular favorite of the photographic duo Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, who book her almost exclusively in their editorial work for the French, Italian and Japanese editions of Vogue, W, V and the like. But Eniko has proven herself popular with others, too, during her short stint in New York—from Craig McDean, with whom she shot the Max Mara ad campaign and an editorial for Italian Vogue, to Patrick Demarchelier, who booked her for Barneys New York. She’s also a designer darling, walking virtually every major runway last season. With a blue-chip roster like that, it’s no wonder Eniko seems to sport a perpetual smile.

How were you discovered?
I was in my hometown walking on the street with my friends. A lady came up to me and said I should try modeling because she thought I have the body and look for it. I really didn’t want to give her my phone number, but because my friend was pushing, I gave it to her. She called my parents and they made an appointment. The next thing I know, she took me to a casting for Elite Model Look and I did the contest in 2002. I came to New York about a year ago.

You’ve taken New York by storm.
I really like it. I’ve never worked as much as I work here.

What do you like about modeling?

I love the traveling and meeting new people, of course, but for me, when I look at a fashion picture, most people just say, ‘That’s nice,’ or ‘I like the clothes.’ But every time I open a magazine when I’m in the picture, I always get these memories back that I was part of making it. When you think about it, it’s art, the way the photographer, the stylist, the hairdresser, everyone expressed themselves. Every time I see a picture, it gives me good memories. I love to be part of it.

How would you describe show season?

It’s my favorite. I like the rush when I do 20 castings a day. Then there are the shows themselves, and it’s an adrenaline rush for me when I go on the catwalk. I like that you don’t sit around. You don’t have time to do anything, you don’t have time to think. I like to be a bit hyperactive.

How would you describe your personality?

I’m a big kid! I talk a lot. I like to scream. I like to play. I like to run. I like to have fun.

What would you like to do after modeling?
On one side, I want to go back to university to study a little bit more, but then from the other side, I feel like maybe it’s too late—not because of my age, but because I missed out on so many years in school. What I’m thinking is to have my own little business, like open a restaurant or something, where I can be my own boss.

Do you like to cook?

Yes. My signature dish is a Hungarian chicken stew.

Who do you admire and why?
When I was a kid, the models back in the Nineties, like Cindy Crawford, Eva Herzigova, Claudia Schiffer— they’re still the biggest and the best.

What’s your favorite place you’ve traveled to for work?

New York! It’s different than every other place. It’s the city that never sleeps, right, and I’m the type of person who, whenever I have time to do something, I just go and do it. I love that in New York you’re able to do anything anytime you want.

What do you like to do?

Hang out with my friends. I love [the restaurant] Max Brenner. It’s the best. We usually go for breakfast and I really like the omelet with salmon and cheese inside. I always take the cookie shake, too.

How would you describe your style?
I like to dress simply and easily, and I like to make my accessories a bit more fancy. If I wear black, I’ll put on a pink bag or shoes, or if I put on jeans and a shirt, the shirt will be flowery. I like to dress simply and make the accessories funky.

What do you dream of achieving in your career?

It would be really nice to make a career like the top models of the Nineties, which I would say is kind of impossible nowadays. The industry has changed a lot. The girls changed. They got a lot younger. I would say the top models right now are not as iconic as back in the time. Maybe it will happen for a couple of girls, but not as much as then.

How do you define beauty?
Beauty is not necessarily what you see. It’s something that is inside people. Real beauty is when you walk down the street and you pass by a lot of people and you see one person who has this incredible energy around them and it’s coming from inside. For me, that’s beauty: when you actually turn around on the street just to have a look at that person.

Imagine being stopped on the street by your country’s most famous designer, who so loves the way you look he personally sends your picture to one of the world’s leading modeling agencies, which immediately signs you. One week later, you’re shooting with a world-renowned photographer; two weeks later, you’re in the office of Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour, and three weeks later, you’ve landed one of the most coveted contracts in modeling, with cosmetics giant Lancôme. Arlenis Sosa’s discovery story is indeed the stuff of lore. Spotted just 10 months ago in her native Dominican Republic, the 19-year-old has been catapulted to the top of the modeling ranks, working with photographers such as Steven Meisel, Patrick Demarchelier and Mario Testino and walking in more than 25 fashion shows in her first season in New York alone. Propelled by a charmingly guileless personality and a megawatt smile, Sosa, who taught herself English along the way, has proven she’s a fast learner in more ways than one.

How were you discovered?

I was walking in Santo Domingo with my cousins and the designer Luis Menieur, who’s huge in my country, stopped me. I didn’t know who he was, but my cousins did. He asked me if I modeled and I said not really. He gave me his phone number and I called my family and they were like, “Call him,” so I did and I met him the next day. He sent my pictures to Marilyn Agency and the next day, they sent an invitation to the embassy for me and I got my visa. I came to New York for one month and in the second week, I met Steven Meisel and did a photo shoot with him for the Black issue of Italian Vogue.

You landed your Lancome contract within the month. How did that come about?

Anna Wintour. She invited me to the Met [Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute] ball with Moises de la Renta, the son of Oscar. I went and she introduced me to Giorgio Armani, George Clooney and Julia Roberts. You can imagine—my favorite actor is George Clooney. I didn’t know it was going to be like that! I met a lot of other people that evening, too— stylists, designers, so many I didn’t know. The next day, Lancôme sent a message to my agency and wanted to meet me. Three weeks later, I had a contract.

What does it mean to you to be a face of one of the biggest cosmetics companies in the world?
It’s amazing. I can’t explain with words, but for my family and everyone, this contract is going to change my life. I am so excited—very, very excited.

What do you love about modeling?
I love a lot of things. I get to meet a lot of people from different countries, like hairstylists, makeup artists, journalists. I can travel and learn a lot of cultures. It’s a social job and that works well for me. I can make good money, but it’s not about the money—it’s about enjoying the job and the people you’re working with.

You’ve shot to fame. How are you staying grounded?
My agent from the Dominican Republic is like, “You don’t know yet who you are.” But I’m just Arlenis. I just say thanks to God for everything you give me and I’m trying to give back. I’ve started a foundation in the Dominican Republic to help children with diabetes.

Who do you admire and why?
I love Liya Kebede. She’s one of the best models and she has skin like me. Iman, also—they are both people whose footsteps I would like to follow in.

How would you describe your style?
I’m very casual but chic. The clothes are important, but sometimes it’s not just the clothes, it’s you, it’s your personality, your natural way.

What do you like to do when you’re not modeling?
I love to be with my family and go to church. I’m Christian and believe a lot in God.

What’s your favorite place you’ve traveled to for work?

Paris. I loved it—the architecture, the people.

How would you like to see your career develop?

I want to keep my Lancôme contract, of course, for a long time! And to advance in this business—I love the career of Raquel Zimmerman. Do you know her? She’s number one on Models.com.

Do you want to be number one?

It doesn’t have to be like that, but if I get it, cool!


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