Dorian Ulises López Macías photographed his favourite Mexican models in NYC

Get to know rising stars Maria Fernanda Alvarez Roldan, Marsella Rea and Sara Esparza.

by Ernesto Macias
|
01 June 2022, 8:00am

Rebirth is a word and vibe that the fashion industry is obsessed with. Designers, artists and overall creative types have found inspiration within the prolific period of European history to not only create art but, embracing the aptitudes of the times, question everything. In the case of the Mexican photographer Dorian Ulises López Macías and his three close friends and muses, fellow Mexican models Fernanda Alvarez Roldan, Marsella Rea and Sara Esparza, renaissance has presented itself in the form of a revolution.

“The career of a model is dedication and discipline. These three girls have that,” Dorian says. “But on the other hand there is the beauty that they possess. There is a story behind those faces, which is the history of this country.”

The photographer and these rising stars redefined beauty in their native Mexico, now they’re coming for the entire modeling industry. As their careers have taken off independently, all three models have relocated to New York City — the concrete jungle where rebirth is encouraged, not advised. The photographer captured them in the streets of their new home and, below, they answered a few questions about their own renaissance, being Mexican in a sometimes reluctant industry and NYC, baby.

María Fernanda Álvarez Roldan wearing a floral outfit in nyc by Dorian Ulises López Macías
Fernanda wears full look SAINT LAURENT BY ANTHONY VACCARELLO.
María Fernanda Álvarez Roldan wearing y/project x fila in nyc by Dorian Ulises López Macías
Fernanda wears top and skirt Y/ PROJECT X FILA.T-shirt and socks stylist’s own. Earrings MACHETE at Shop Machete. Shoes SAINT LAURENT BY ANTHONY VACCARELLO.

Fernanda Álvarez Roldan / 27 / Libra

**Where are you right now and where are you from?
**I am from Mexico City. I live between Mexico and New York, but right now I am in Mexico City.

**What does renaissance mean to you?
**It’s the transformation that we are all capable of which comes at moments in life that teach us to grow, question ourselves and delve into who we truly are.

**How would you describe your relationship with Dorian?
**Dorian is a type of person from whom you never stop learning; he is one of my favourite people in the world, a true friend.

**Why New York City?
**In my case, life has been pushing me toward NYC. Without a doubt, it is a city that little by little has become a home and one of my favourite cities. I feel that I did not choose it, but that it chose me.

**When did you know you wanted to model?
**Three years ago, doing a campaign, I realized the importance of people like me in modeling and in the industry – that's where my true motivation for being a model was born.

**Mexican models are few and far between, what does it mean to be a Mexican model in the industry right now?
**At this moment in my life, it feels very strange. A few years ago the industry was more closed. Now, a type of beauty that was not considered as such before is accepted and fashionable, so I don't think there is a better time than now.

We could talk about many negative things about the fashion industry in México and internationally, but also about the positive changes; the people who have changed it and revolutionized it. Personally, it has been a path where I have learned a lot about myself, about beauty, about others, but it has also been a difficult path full of challenges with myself — and often painful.

**How did you deal with the challenges presented to you as a Mexican model in the Mexican industry and the world?
**I think that one of the biggest challenges as a Mexican model in México is that many people still do not see the beauty in the people around them. Many magazines and brands are guided by people with a very reduced vision of what beauty is and most of the time they do the bare minimum just to keep up with how fast the industry is going in other countries.

**What change do you hope to see in the industry, in relation to diversity and inclusivity?
**Each model is different and each one leaves something to the industry about beauty, openness with sexuality, gender, race… In the end, modeling is also political and now more so. I think we should take hold of that so that great changes do not stop happening and that each person regardless of their color, their lineage, their beliefs or decisions feel represented and beautiful.

**What do you want young Mexican models to know?
**That they are the present, that many of us have opened the doors because in reality they are the ones who come to teach us.

marsella rea wearing blumarine in nyc by Dorian Ulises López Macías
Marsella wears top, skirt and belt BLUMARINE. Earrings MACHETE at Shop Machete. Shoes BURBERRY.
marsella rea wearing gold sequins and blue face paint in nyc by Dorian Ulises López Macías
Marsella wears all clothing AREA.

Marsella Rea, 26, Capricorn

**Where are you right now and where are you from?
**I am from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. I live in New York and am now on an eight-hour flight to Paris.

**What does renaissance mean to you?
**The revival of an important event. To rise again, rebirth.

**How would you describe your relationship with Dorian?
**Dorian is a great friend. I have a lot of love for him. I met him when I signed with my mother agency In The Park Management; he did my first digital headshots.

**Why New York City?
**It was always my dream and when the opportunity arose to sign with an agency in one of the main fashion capitals, I didn’t hesitate.

**What is your favorite NYC song?
**“Estrelar” by Marcos Valle. I discovered it in New York. You can hear it around the city often and I love it.

**When did you know you wanted to model?
**From a very young age it was my dream, however I did not see it as possible. It was two years ago that life put Carlos Castellanos (my manager) on my path. Thanks to him, I am doing this full time.

**Mexican models are few and far between, what does it mean to be a Mexican model in the industry right now?
**It is definitely a very big challenge because a few years ago it was nearly impossible to be in the industry, but I am proud to be part of the era of models that make casting directors more interested in the beauty of Mexico.

**How did you deal with the challenges presented to you as a Mexican model in the Mexican industry and the world?
**I never gave up. I’m not going to lie to you — at some point, I came to think that it would not be possible to continue climbing due to different issues that I faced, however, I did not stop believing in myself and in my potential.

**What change do you hope to see in the industry, in relation to diversity and inclusivity?
**I hope to see many more Mexican models in the industry and that skin color, height or complexion cease to be an issue.

**What do you want young Mexican models to know?
**That dreams come true, you just have to be patient and persevering. The industry is complex but nothing is impossible. There will always be one person who doesn't believe in you but two more who do.

Sara Esparza wearing schiaparelli in nyc by Dorian Ulises López Macías
Sara wears jacket, jeans and earrings SCHIAPARELLI. Shoes BALENCIAGA.
Sara Esparza with green face makeup and hair posing in nyc by Dorian Ulises López Macías
Sara wears full look GIVENCHY.

Sara Esparza, 24, Aries

**Where are you right now and where are you from?
**I am from Mexico City. I've been living in New York for a little over a year. I don't know where I'm gonna be tomorrow, but at this precise moment, at home in New York City.

**What does renaissance mean to you?
**The Renaissance was one of my favorite periods in time. I remember when I was in high school, I had an arts history class. When we got to the Renaissance, I loved it. One of my favorite paintings by Botticelli is “The Birth of Venus”. Historically, it marked a before and after in humanity. In Spanish, it literally means rebirth. I see it as endless opportunities to reinvent ourselves and keep growing, expanding our vision.

**Why New York City?
**At the beginning, that was the path for every model — you start in New York City. See how it goes, and maybe you can go to Europe. The first time that I spent some time in New York, I didn't love it. It was my first time being away from my family and experiencing the fashion industry that can be harsh sometimes. Now that I've been in different cities around the world — New York is probably one of my favourite places. It feels similar to Mexico City. My favourite thing about it is that it just feels so diverse. When I'm walking around you can hear a lot of languages. That is so unique. It doesn't happen in every city you go to. New York has made a lot of my dreams come true.

**What is your favorite NYC song?
**“Birdie” by Leon Larregui, and this only became my favorite song three months ago because of some beautiful personal experiences. And “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra. It sounds cliche, but that’s how New York makes you feel when you’re on a night out — the vibes, the skyline, the sunset, the music and the happy hours [laughs].

**When did you know you wanted to model?
**I always knew I wanted to do something for the people — a singer, an actress, but modeling felt like the one thing all girls dream about being when we’re growing up. I remember playing with my mom’s clothes and high heels and walking down the hallway in my home. I remember looking at the billboards and magazines and thinking “omg how would I look in one of these?” When I was 16, I entered a modeling competition without knowing one thing about it. I made it to the finals and became really intrigued with the fashion industry.

**Mexican models are few and far between, what does it mean to be a Mexican model in the industry right now?
**It feels so special. I’ve always felt so proud to be a Mexican model. When I go to castings, I’m so happy to say Mexico City is where I’m from. When I was starting out, it felt very difficult. Maybe not difficult, but there were almost no brown skin models. I was going to castings and I felt like I didn’t belong there. I knew which models they were going to choose.

I’m super happy to have the chance to open doors, thanks to the people that trusted me in my own country. It’s different now in Mexico. I’m so happy to see that things are changing and modeling agencies with the right vision.

**How did you deal with the challenges presented to you as a Mexican model in the Mexican industry and the world?
**At the beginning, I didn’t understand it. I then decided that whatever the situation was, I wasn’t going to let that define the path that I wanted for my own career. Sometimes I have my lows. I think of challenges not as a block but as a bridge that’s going to take you where you want to be.

**What change do you hope to see in the industry, in relation to diversity and inclusivity?
**I hope that this diversity and inclusivity stays. I don’t want to see this as a trend. I would also love to see even more diversity. I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who is a plus-size model, about how there are certain spaces for plus-size models and the same person gets the spot. The same for trans models. I would love to see more new faces.

**What do you want young Mexican models to know?
**I want them to know that everything is possible. Keep dreaming, cherish the bad and the good moments equally. Don’t ever let anyone tell you what to do or what your goals should look like. Be patient. Life may take a little bit of time, but it will always come with the best gifts for you. Believe in yourself. Trust the people around you. Everything you work for will come.

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Credits


Photography Dorian Ulises López Macías.
Fashion Ricardo Arenas.

Hair Joey George at MA+ Group.
Hair assistance Jennifer Covington-Bowers.
Makeup Marcelo Gutierrez at Bryant Artists using MAC Cosmetics.
Fashion assistance Dan Victoria Gleason.
Production Carlos Castellanos for In The Park Productions.

Models Sara Esparza and Marsella Rea at In The Park Management. Fernanda Álvarez at Heroes Models.

Tagged:
mexico
models
NEW YORK CITY
Photography