Monday, October 5, 2015

Laura Luna, an alternative model breaking the norms of the fashion industry

Let me In, by Carlos Vaquero. Via: Laura Luna



Have you ever wondered what would your life look like if you had made different choices? Do you find yourself musing about what you really want to do, while your life seems trapped in an endless succession of worryingly identical days?
I must confess that was my case before I decided to leave everything behind and start living adventures in New York City. However, long before I made my decision, there was someone in my life brave enough to follow her dreams, against the norms that society dictated. That person is my really talented friend Laura Luna, who decided in her late twenties that being an awesome translator and published author was not enough. She decided to become an alternative model and an actress, regardless of the beauty canons ruthlessly imposed by the fashion industry.
I'm really proud to bring you today one of the most insightful interviews I've ever conducted. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present you Laura Luna and an interview that I hope will change your views about self-acceptance, body image, and the courage to follow your dreams. Please don't hesitate to share your views on body image on the comment section below, and be part of the conversation!
1. Laura, you define yourself as an 'alternative model.' What does that concept mean to you? 
 
To me, an alternative model has a non-mainstream beauty that clashes with fashion standards. I do not relate to that definition - I'm neither tall nor slim, and I definitely don't have even, delicate features. However, I do consider I possess another kind of beauty which can provide a lot of personality to a picture. Inside the alternative genre, I also consider myself a vintage and pin-up model, which are the styles that define me and which make up for a big part of my portfolio — and happen to be my favorite ones.
Reading is Sexy, by Adabuhi. Source: Hello Friki
2. Both my sites - New York For Beginners and Mi Reino Por Un Gloss- defend the idea that there are as many types of beauty as different body shapes and face features in the world. Do you think media and blogs reflect this reality, or are still stuck in an impossible cannon leading to the quest of eternal beauty?  

I share New York For Beginners' opinion on beauty as a plural concept which does not obey one single standard. All bodies can be beautiful, depending on the eye of the beholder, no matter how much of a cliche this may sound. However, I don't see this diversity in fashion magazines. Many of them use this double standard of featuring an article about "curves are sexy" and then some pieces of advice about losing that annoying extra weight. Let alone those magazines ranting about a celebrity and her fat rolls when she sits. On the contrary, I think there are blogs which only talk about beauty products from a more human perspective, addressing to women interested in beauty without accusing them of being an ugly freak.
Peace, by Adabuhi

3. You are undoubtedly a very attractive woman, and I can see in your portfolio that you feel extremely at ease in your own skin. May I ask how you have reached this peaceful self-awareness? Are you the type of person that criticizes what she sees in the mirror, or do you accept and value all the little things that make you unique?

Like each and every of us, I've grown up surrounded by the social pressure of having to be a beautiful woman in order to prove your worth. We are taught to hate our bodies, under the promise of reaching that impossible beauty if we waste all of our salary in creams, surgery and miracle products. Over time, and thanks to photography and feminism, I've learned how to love my body and cherish my personal beauty. I also think it's important to be surrounded by people who love you and care, who make you feel you matter.
A Day in a Spanish Village After War. An impressive portrait by Muriel dal Bo
4. What's your favorite physical feature?

My eyes— they're so expressive!
Laura, captured by Dave McDermott, via Laura's Instagram

5. What's the physical feature you like less about yourself? Would you like to change it?

My waist is very short and then it has little space to be well-shaped. Sometimes I wish I was taller and slimmer, but then that wouldn't be me.
Sweet Summer, print for sale on Sweet Coins

6. Aside from being an alternative model, you're a published sci-fi author, a professional translator, an actress-in-training and you're starting to sing. How did you start in the modelling world? Do you believe all your artistic facets are somehow intertwined?

I've always enjoyed playing in front of a camera or on stage, but I locked that dream at the back of my mind to focus on studying a degree on Translation and Interpreting. Years later, I met Muriel Dal Bo in Madrid and I began posing for her firm Sublime. The first time we worked together, when she saw my expressions in front of the lenses, she suggested I should play theater. I'd never studied dramatic art, but I still applied for a casting call of the Spanish theater company Trece Gatos. And that's where I currently perform. To me, photography and theater are intimately related, because they  both give me the ability to express an emotion and play a character in front of the camera, although they of course speak different languages. Also, as you said, I am also a writer, and writers are in part actors that need to put themselves in their characters' shoes, endow them with a personality, and play out how they think, talk or act.
Laura, playing Shakespeare's A Midnight Summer Dream in Madrid
7. Traditionally, models start working at very young ages and must comply with very strict physical requirements. Do you think there are real opportunities for models like you, who start working in their adult years and have a different type of beauty? Do you think there is a modelling life after the 36-23-36 requirements in the modelling world?

Of course there are opportunities. In fact, there are many modelling genres aside from catwalk and fashion photography. There are alt models, art models, parts models... If you wish to take on modelling, you must be aware of which genres you fit in and what could you offer to them. I won't lie: commercial and fashion models make more money and you have all chances in it if you are 36-23-36, though, as any other genres, it's a high competitive world.
Lady in Red, by Dave McDermott, via Laura's Instagram

8. Your professional portfolio as a model is extremely varied and includes many types of genres, including artistic nude photography. May I ask when and why did you decide to embark on this journey? Has artistic nude modelling helped you build your self-esteem? 


Actually, my first shooting was a nude shooting, a 20s-style erotica set, very elegant and tasteful. Before that shooting, had I been told to pose nude, I would have strongly refused. However, thanks to the modelling course by Muriel for Sublime models, I learned how to know and appreciate my body, how to find its personal beauty. To me, a nude body is not shameful at all. We all have a body and it's part of ourselves, same as our face, and we can use it to create beautiful things. As it happens, in this case it's a beautiful photograph.
Laura's first session with Muriel dal Bo. Via Laura's blog on Sweet Coins.

9. Sometimes, there is a thin line separating the worlds of artistic nude photography and porn. How do you define both worlds? In your opinion, what are the differences between your artistic nude portfolio and those TV spots with evident sexual content?

That's quite an interesting question. Art nude has nothing to do with porn, not even eroticism, but we have established this relationship because we are so used to watching the naked human body as a sex vessel. However, nudes have been present in the history of Art since forever. I wonder what's so porn about Michelangelo's David or in Discobulus?
Laura's work for Sweet Coins
Personally, I think the difference is on the attitude conveyed in the photography itself. There are many pictures in which the nude body is just another tool of the composition, whose purpose is to convey an emotion which has nothing to do with sex. On the contrary, there also exist quite a few pictures depicting a fully-clothed model with a high sexual innuendo, because of her attitude, pose or the concept portrayed. For example, I recall the Parisienne commercial by Yves Saint Laurent. It was a highly erotic ad for me, and Kate Moss was fully clothed in it.

10. Have you had mentors in your modelling career? What have you learned from them?
I can say my first mentor has been and still is Muriel Dal Bo. She taught me how to pose, how to find my body's beauty and how to use it as an art tool. Thanks to her, I've learned how to find beauty in every work of art, and she also taught how to handle myself in the photography world. Given her experience and our friendship, I count on her when I need counseling on a project. Also, Antonio Garci has shown me how to create my trademark and market my difference.
Muriel Dal Bo's compelling interpretation of a Spanish Queen
11. Which has been your favorite photo shoot so far?

I have many favorites, because each shoot has something special. However, because it was my first, I really hold dear my Mata-Hari shooting. I also love my Snow White shooting with Muriel Dal Bo, because we've created such a different version from that fairy tale, with a touch of social criticism. One Thousand and One with Adabuhi was also a very special shooting, because it was such an enriching exercise of expressiveness. I also hold dear my Reading is sexy set with Adabuhi, because of its tasteful sensuality related to literature, one of my biggest passions. I absolutely love my shooting with Muriel Dal Bo for Elephant Day by Gabby Wild, because of its creative value, visual poetry and pro-animal rights messaging. A special mention also goes to Polymerboy, who has portrayed me so tastefully, and treats eroticism in such an elegant, natural way.
What happened to Snow White in the Big Apple? by Muriel dal Bo
12. Aside from your expressiveness, your immaculate skin is your trademark. Do you have any good tricks to take care of it? And please, don't tell me to sleep 8 hours and drink a lot of water!

I've suffered from severe acne and I took some aggressive medication to cure it. Since then, I pamper my skin. I have my beauty ritual of cleansing+facial tonic+cream day and night, along with a twice-a-week exfoliating and nourishing ritual. I always apply my after-shower body milk and, most of all, I never set a foot outside home without my solar protection. Moreover, I always try to maintain a healthy, balanced diet.
Reading is Sexy by Adabuhi. Reminiscent of Velazquez's Venus in front of the Mirror

13. In many of your photo shoots you're your own Make-Up Artist. What are your favorite products?

I just adore Hello Flawless! Oxygen Wow foundation by Benefit Cosmetics, it's so easy to apply! I'm also in love with They're Real mascara and Benetint for my cheeks and lips (Have I already mentioned that I love Benefit?) I'm also a big fan of Estée Lauder products, they work very well for me! 
1001 nights, by Adabuhi

14. Are there any type of pictures and models that you'd like to see published more often in media? Do you think blogs have helped in breaking stereotypes of a cookie-cutter beauty ideal?

We have still a long way to go, although there are more and more blogs addressing a more diverse audience with a more diverse beauty. Plus-size models (I hate that label) are so trendy nowadays, but even they have common standards: They are 5' 11' tall minimum so they can still look slim, they have proportionate curves and firm limbs. I'd like to see a wider diversity: short, curvy models, mature models... I'd like to see marks and cellulite as a non-shameful common trait. I'd like to see body-positivism as a promoted way of life so every woman would love herself and understand that the idea of cookie-cutter and non-plural beauty is boring.
Earth Day photo shooting, by Muriel dal Bo
15. What advice would you give to anyone looking to start a career in modelling or willing to be as self-accepting with her body image as you are?

Do you want to be a model? Have in mind that beauty is not the most important trait of a model, although media might suggest that. You must have the ability to engage with the camera and have a strong body control. You must be able to shoot in a bikini on freezing winter and on a coat in the middle of summer. You must know that a photo shooting does not take 5 minutes and, in many occasions, you'll wear some outfit you are not a big fan of. You'll have to stand many waiting hours while the shoot is prepared or while you're having your hair and make-up done. And, despite all that, you must look perfect in the picture.

Do you want to trust your own unique beauty? That's a tricky one, I know, because we are taught to hate ourselves since we are children. But you deserve to love yourself. Look at yourself at the mirror with loving eyes, and don't compare to those fancy models on Instagram, because your have charming assets which other people don't, and that what's makes you so special. Enjoy your life, pamper yourself, don't be afraid of speaking your mind, never doubt your feelings, since they're all valid. Remember you only live once and in first person, not in third. Your life is in fact a long way walked only by you, and it's too large to fit in a single stereotype.

Adrian Christopher's compelling version of feminine beauty

16. I know this is your favorite question: How do you get ready for your bikini every summer?

Do you mean how to obtain a beach body? That's easy: have a body and go to the beach. It's as simple as that.

Boudoir, by 73kpx, via Laura's Facebook page.
If you want to know more about Laura Luna, you can follow her via her many channels: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Model Mayhem, or her Purple Port portfolio. She recently started modelling for Sweet Coins, a company that creates video-game and Geek-culture memorabilia. Prints featuring her work are available for sale in her own personal Sweet Coins page.

These are the pages of the really talented photographers mentioned in the post. Please don't hesitate to visit their portfolios and support their work:

Muriel Dal Bo: Facebook page, Behance Portfolio, Sublime Etsy shop

Adabuhi: Website, Facebook, Twitter

Antonio Garci: Portfolio, Workshops

The Gabby Wild Foundation

Source: Adabuhi
Disclosure level 0: The author of this post received no financial compensation to write the piece. Rest assured, there are no affiliate links on this post.

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