Runway success: RGV models look back at memorable year in fashion
In the past 12 months, the fashion industry has taken devotees to some unique places, sometimes literally.
Models walked through a blizzard for Balenciaga Fall-Winter 2022/2023 collection debuted at Paris Fashion Week in March.
Later in the year, Gucci sourced 68 sets of identical twins for their Spring-Summer 2022/2023 collection for Milan Fashion Week in September.
That same month, at New York Fashion Week, tennis superstar Serena Williams opened the Vogue World runway show after announcing her retirement from the sport.
Looking back, it has been a lot to take in.
It was also quite a year for the Rio Grande Valley, with four models, Fish Fiorucci, Star Luna, John Judas and Abril Silva, representing the region for national and international campaigns and runway shows.
Fish Fiorucci is a household name when talking about modeling in South Texas.
The 25-year-old Brownsville model, who is nonbinary, doubles as a manager in their casting and management agency f10, which represents local talent, and had quite a year to remember.
In 2022, Fiorucci added to an already rising star status by walking in the Spring-Summer 2023 runway shows for LUAR and Maisie Wilen, four separate Balenciaga shows—and a photo shoot with Madonna for Paper Magazine.
Fiorucci describes the experience of working with a cultural icon like Madonna as one for the books.
“It was such a moment to work with Madonna. They are definitely one of the artists I had wanted to work with for such a long time, and I finally got to check that off my list,” Fiorucci said.
Fiorucci started modeling at 15, working as an unpaid mannequin model at the local Gap store in Sunrise Mall in Brownsville.
Now, in addition to walking Paris Fashion Week, Fiorucci splits time juggling work and classes at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, mentoring new models and changing the narrative about fashion and the South Texas region.
“I do feel like when I talk to people about the Valley, I want them to take it seriously. I want designers to come down here to show their work and send their pieces to us. I want the Valley to be within reach of real fashion. I want something luxurious. I want couture down here. I want avant-garde,” Fiorucci said.
Two of the models Fiorucci is developing at f10 booked their first runway shows for New York Fashion Week in September.
McAllen models John Judas, 22, and Star Luna, 25, walked in the Spring-Summer 2023 runway collection for Willy Chavarria at New York’s Marble Collegiate Church.
Both models were two of five that went with Fiorucci to New York ahead of the start of fashion week to attend casting calls.
“I remember going to the casting, and I felt like it went well. Then Fish got the email and told me I got it. Honestly, I did cry a bit. I just didn’t think it would come to this moment of being in New York for Fashion Week and walking for Willy,” Judas said.
Judas got started while still in school, modeling in a student fashion show at James Nikki Rowe High School before meeting Fiorucci in 2019 and becoming one of the faces of f10.
After nearly two years of preparation and coaching, Judas says that being able to walk for a designer like Willy Chavarria is a great opportunity.
“Because his brand is super Latino and Hispanic, and my dad is from Mexico. So I just felt great walking for that brand,” Judas said.
Star Luna, who spent four years developing skills as a model on Instagram ahead of a runway debut, says that standing backstage at the show waiting to go on was emotional.
“It was a spiritual moment for me,” Luna said.
Instead of a casting session, Luna says the designer and a friend reached out over Instagram with an invitation to participate in the show—being the first model who is nonbinary and LGBTQ to walk for Willy Chavarria, to Luna’s knowledge.
Following the show, Luna says it has been a process of taking things as they come.
“I had to teach myself at that moment to live in the moment. Because after that, you are kind of on a model high. And you just want to know like, ‘what’s next?” Luna said.
What’s next is a move to New York City, where Luna plans to continue to grow in skills and brand, with further work already underway with Willy Chavarria.
Another McAllen-based model, 21-year-old Abril Silva, appeared in the campaign for the unique capsule kit Juventus FC x Liberal Youth Ministry collaboration.
Represented by In The Park Management in Mexico City, Silva was flown to Guadalajara for the campaign in July.
At first, Silva remembers being just happy to be selected. Going over the casting sheet, Silva realized that Juventus mentioned was not a clothing brand that happened to have the name of a football club— but the actual Juventus Football Club from Italy.
“That was when I got excited because a Mexican brand collaborating with Juventus is amazing. This doesn’t happen all the time,” Silva said.
Silva, born in Hidalgo County and raised in Reynosa until turning 15, says fashion was a love from a young age. As a child, she remembers sketching and designing outfits, enjoying the creativity and expression fashion offered.
While studying nutrition at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Silva is hopeful that with all the professional strides made this year, fashion will continue to play a role in the future.
“I told my mom, I want to do fashion as life allows me. If I get to 50, or however old Naomi Campbell is now, and am still modeling…I really want to put all my energy and effort into that,” Silva said.