Model Cindy Bruna is running late for an already late night call (She just opened up Calzedonia’s summer show). But it’s not a fashion party that’s keeping her. She’s in meetings with Solidarité Femmes. The French federation combats violence against women, with a focus on domestic abuse. She became involved because she knew a victim. “It was something I wanted to fight for. At first, I didn’t think I could do something,” says the 23-year-old Bruna. “But we’re trying to bring the federation to another level, with the support of the French government.”
Bruna is one of the models using their visibility and platform – she has almost half a million Instagram followers – to promote a cause important to them. Karlie Kloss campaigns for girls to learn coding, Doutzen Kroes pushes for an end to elephant poaching, and this month’s cover star, Adwoa Aboah, founded Gurls Talk. Of course, Bruna’s Instagram is also peppered with snapshots of her fashionable life, both on the runway and behind the scenes. Between being a Victoria’s Secret model and walking for Elie Saab, Balmain, and Jacquemus, the 1.8m tall model has landed campaigns for Prada and Calvin Klein. The French beauty is one of the most recognized faces in the new era where diversity in fashion is no longer the exception, but quickly becoming the rule.
Born in the South of France, in the seaside town of Saint-Raphaël, Bruna was scouted on the beach at 16. “My mom wanted me to finish school first. You hear so many things about modeling that parents don’t really want for their kids,” she says. One man who took her under his wing when she first stepped onto the scene was Azzedine Alaïa. “Alaïa was my first job,” recalls Bruna. “I arrived at his showroom and was not even able to walk in heels. I learned to walk with him. Through it all, I could always feel that I was in the presence of a genius.” Bruna has also worked with Elie Saab since she was 18. They have developed an affection for one another. “He offered me a dress for my birthday,” Bruna says. “I think she will go very far,” offers Saab. With the experience of walking for his shows, she comments, “Now, I can better understand his dresses and collections. He impresses me all the time.” She lives in New York and attributes her “citizen of the world” mentality to her Congolese mother and Italian father. “I’m so happy I have different cultures,” she says. “I feel strong because of it. It’s me.”
Originally printed in the April 2018 issue of Vogue Arabia.