10 things you need to know about ralph souffrant

Glory be to God for dappled things.

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May 26 2016, 11:55pm

It's said a face without freckles is like a sky without stars (i.e. pretty dull). Some of our favourite faces - from Sade to Angela Lindvall, Binx Walton to Adwoa Aboah - have come blessed with a smattering of specks, and 21-year old Ralph Souffrant is no exception. With a skin condition similar to vitiligo (that's what gives Winnie Harlow her striking appearance), the Haiti-born, Brooklyn-based model has used his galaxy of freckles to make a name for himself in the world of fashion, landing a scene-stealing spot in Kanye West's Yeezy Season 3 show earlier this year. "Any time that I wasn't exercising, I spent looking for auditions, hanging out in the city, hoping the right person would spot me and checking my Instagram for opportunities," he says on his entry into an industry that has been often more accepting of individuality than real life. "I worked hard and it proved to be fruitful." As we celebrate all things counter, original, spare and strange, here are 10 things you need to know about freckle-faced, fashion-favourite, Ralph Souffrant.

His memories of Haiti tell a story of two halves...
"Haiti, as I remember it was fun. Warm weather, beaches, fresh fruit, great food... Then there was reality. Poverty, violence, famine... My family struggled to provide life's necessities, such as food and clothing. My mother wanted a better life for me so she jumped at the first opportunity to migrate to the States."

And his first memories of Brooklyn are pretty vivid too...
"Brooklyn was massive. There were tons of people, highrise buildings and cars everywhere. I thought everyone was rich! In Haiti, cars were limited to people with wealth. It was considered an item of luxury. And everyone spoke English while my family and I spoke creole."

Image via Instagram

As a child, he hated his skin...
"Kids always made fun of me. I couldn't hide. My freckles were everywhere."

But the fashion industry has embraced him in a way he never thought possible...
"While my confidence and self-esteem were intact prior to engaging this industry, the level of admiration I get now was non-existent as a child."

Never in his wildest dreams did he even think of becoming a model...
"I planned to become a dermatologist, then a photographer by the name of Aaron Taylor discovered me in a park in Brooklyn. We became friends and, for years, he'd buy me clothes, take pictures of me, invite me to his church and finally in August 2015 create an Instagram page for me. That would prove to be the turning point in my life. After six months, I managed to get signed to Re:Quest Model Management."

Instagram made him visible to all…
"All my life, I wanted to hide. Now all I needed was for someone to see me. Instagram put me in people's home, office, cellphones, iPads etc. It was free publicity and advertisement. It opened so many doors in such a short time. It was like I'd dropped my resume on a million door steps."

Image via Instagram

And one person who saw that resume was a certain Kanye West...
"The same day my agent signed me, she let me know that she'd booked me for Kanye as well. I was ecstatic and humbled. Not even a year before that, I'd dreamt of being in his show. It was my goal to do his show and to get signed by an agency and I'd done both in the same day."

With that accomplished, his aim is to be the best he can be…
"I'm a simple man. All I want to do is provide financial freedom for my family and prove to all the people who thought I would never make it that you should have dreams and fight to achieve them."

And when he's done that…
"I'd love to create a non-profit organisation that provides funding for programs for underprivileged children in Haiti and Brooklyn."

Finally, he has sound advice for any young people struggling with their appearance...
"Love yourself. When people don't understand something they tend to be afraid of it… Shun it. Your exterior is like wrapping paper, people only notice it for a moment. What they notice more is what's beneath the surface so, work on your character and your heart. That's what they'll remember you by. Because that's what matters."

@souffrantnyc

As we share the first series of Beyond Beauty with Grace Neutral in full, follow us deeper into the world of alternative beauty. From the unorthodox to the obscure and the weird to the wonderful, we're celebrating the people, subcultures, treatments and trends helping to redefine beauty.

Credits


Text Matthew Whitehouse
Photography Matt Jones
Styling Carlos Nazario
Ralph wears top Ports 1961