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Porter
Cover story

The New Guard

With

Ambar Cristal, Natalia Montero and Imari Karanja

Each new season, there are a few game-changing pieces that can modernize and reshape your entire closet. What are the need-to-know updates for SS19? In honor of a fresh fashion mood, three of the industry’s most exciting emerging names – AMBAR CRISTAL, NATALIA MONTERO and IMARI KARANJA – model the wardrobe heroes

Photography Leon MarkStyling Morgan Pilcher
Cover Stories
Opening image: Ambar (left) wears jacket and skirt Joseph. Natalia (center) wears coat Prada; gloves Agnelle. Imari (right) wears coat Beaufille. This image: Natalia wears vest Burberry; polo shirt Prada; shorts Simone Rocha; loafers Church’s; socks stylist’s own. Ambar wears long-sleeve polo shirt JW Anderson; shorts Simone Rocha; loafers Church’s; necklace Laura Lombardi; socks stylist’s own
Both blazers Stella McCartney
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Dress Versace; boots Ann Demeulemeester; hat Albus Lumen

NATALIA MONTERO

Since making her runway debut in FW18 for Parisian powerhouse Balenciaga, 21-year-old Colombian model Natalia Montero has fronted a campaign for the label and walked for industry heavyweights including Prada, Chloé and Calvin Klein

I’VE FOUND MY FASHION FAMILY. Modeling has allowed me to meet so many amazing women from all over the world; it’s always so nice meeting other women on set who understand the job and speak the same language as you. I find [Dominican model] Lineisy Montero so inspiring – I met her at a Prada casting and was totally star-struck.

AS A CHILD I WAS A TOMBOY. I wanted to be outside playing soccer with my brothers. My mom sent me to modeling school when I was little but I only lasted a few days, then ten years later I got signed to an agency. Walking the runway is my favorite part of the job. The first show I walked was Balenciaga, which was also my first time in Paris and my first time on a plane.

RIGHT NOW, I’M LIVING OUT OF A SUITCASE. My plan is to move to New York but, at the moment, work is so busy that I’m flying all over the world for jobs. I grew up in the wonderful city of Cali in Colombia; when I’m away from home I miss my family, the food – it’s so good – but most of all my pets. I have two dogs and a cat – I make my mom send me pictures of them all the time.

WRITING POETRY RELAXES ME. When I’m feeling lonely or I’ve had a bad day, I take some time out, listen to music and start writing. I find it really therapeutic.

From top: Natalia wears coat and jumpsuit Stella McCartney; hat Albus Lumen. Ambar wears jumpsuit Ksubi; T-shirt Helmut Lang; sneakers Saint Laurent. Imari wears sweater Victoria Beckham; shorts JW Anderson
Polo shirt Prada; hat Clyde

IMARI KARANJA

Despite being just 17 years old, American-Kenyan model Imari Karanja has already celebrated more career highlights than most, from walking in couture shows for Givenchy, Tom Ford and Giambattista Valli to starring in campaigns for Prada and Valentino

I’VE NEVER BEEN SCARED OF THE CAMERA. By the time I was 14 years old I was already 5’11”, so people had been telling me I should try modeling. All my friends were getting their first jobs in grocery stores so I thought, ‘Why not give it a shot?’ The more time I’ve spent working in the industry, the more I’ve learned. Sometimes less is more – slight movements can really change a story.

GROWING UP, I WANTED TO BE AN ASTROPHYSICIST. Fashion was never a priority for me; I didn’t know this world existed until I became a part of it. It can be quite surreal and sometimes I don’t register the magnitude of an event until it’s been and gone, like walking alongside model Alek Wek in my first show, or being photographed for my first ever campaign by Steven Meisel.

MY GOAL IS TO DISCOVER ALL MY TALENTS AND EXPLORE EVERY ONE. You only have one life so if there’s something you can do, why wouldn’t you? The kind of people I look up to are Stephen Hawking, Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa. The best goals to have are the unachievable kind, like helping people in need, because then you’ll always have something to strive towards. What people remember you for is not what you did for yourself, it’s what you do for everyone around you.

I REALIZE HOW INSANELY LUCKY I AM. Being flown to Paris for my first season… I felt like Cinderella! I have friends who have never even left Georgia. Retaining a sense of normality is important – my family and friends keep me grounded. I know myself; I’m not defined by my job.

Natalia wears sweater Double Rainbouu; skirt Joseph. Ambar wears dress Oscar de la Renta

AMBAR CRISTAL

Ambar Cristal is starting as she means to go on: the 21-year-old Dominican burst onto the scene last season when she secured an exclusive with Louis Vuitton, opening its SS19 show and starring in the storied label’s campaign

MY CAREER IS A DREAM COME TRUE. Fashion was a big part of my life growing up and I always wanted to be a model. I worked hard to get where I am today; I went to so many castings and endured a lot of rejection before I was finally signed to an agency. I was lucky to be surrounded by supportive people who really believed in me.

THERE ARE NO DOWNSIDES TO MODELING. When I walked the runway for the first time – opening the Louis Vuitton SS19 show – I felt as if I was born to do it! It was such an incredible experience. Nicolas Ghesquière gave me an amazing backpack to say congratulations – it’s the most precious piece in my wardrobe.

I LOVE DISCOVERING NEW CULTURES. Luckily I don’t get jet lag so I always get up early [when traveling], go walking and explore everywhere I visit. Traveling is one of the perks of being a model; I went to Japan for a job recently and loved it – I’m already planning a return trip.

IT’S IMPORTANT TO UNWIND. Reading, painting and yoga help me to relax, but my favorite pastime is cooking. I love it! If I wasn’t modeling, I’d definitely be a chef.

Blazer Balenciaga; T-shirt Victoria, Victoria Beckham; jeans Agolde
L-R: Imari wears trench coat MM6 Maison Margiela. Natalia wears trench coat Joseph. Ambar wears trench coat Totême; T-shirt Victoria, Victoria Beckham

The people featured in this story are not associated with NET-A-PORTER and do not endorse it or the products shown.