The Expat: Cristina Jurach

Cristina Jurach
From: Curitiba, Brazil
Age: 23
Profession: Model for Visage
Education: Almost completed high school
Currently reading: Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer
Last film: Pirates of the Caribbean on 3D
Gadget: iPod touch

Where are you from?
I was born in Curitiba in Paraná state in the south of Brazil. It‘s a big city and is one of the best to live in, in Brazil. Everything is green.

What were your career aspirations?
I’d thought about being an actress when I was younger. Or maybe a dancer or singer. But I don’t have a very good voice. My friends used to joke “Oh, you like singing? Really?”
But I also loved architecture and had started to do drawings and plans of houses. But when I started modelling, my life changed dramatically so I couldn’t carry on doing that.

When did your career begin?
I started modelling in 2005 when I was 16 as I went to a casting for a big agency in Sao Paulo. I started working there but as I am skinny, Brazilians don’t like that look very much apart from for fashion weeks, so I didn’t work much at that time.
My first foreign experience was in Paris and I had fittings for Kenzo and did lots of shows, great jobs, which I really enjoyed, and it really helped me to get work in New York.
I worked for one agency in New York for three years. Everything happens there, and I did lots of shoots for some great magazines.

Do you regret not finishing high school?
No, because I’m happy with what I have. I never thought about leaving Curitiba and the first time I left Brazil, it was a dream. I was so happy, and I’ve now been to more than 10 countries. I’d never dreamt of that and it was heaven. I experienced lots of different cultures and met lots of people, which has been great.

Your first trip abroad was for work.
I went to Taipei and everything was new. All I could think was, God, it’s only you and me! My agency would talk to me and say, “oh you have a job” but I didn’t know what they were talking about!
I was in Taipei for two months but I didn’t work much as they prefer girls with bigger boobs in China!

Which fashion capital did you most want to visit?
I loved Paris, as it’s a beautiful, romantic city, and great to work in too. The fashion world is amazing, but New York is also awesome. It’s the best place to live and work and is my second city.

You lived there for three years. What was your first impression?
I moved there when I was 17 and I was such an idiot! I thought Big Ben was there! But it was so surprising. Everything I knew about New York was from the movies, so being there felt like I, too, was in a movie.
I lived in West Village which was amazing. There are lots of bars and nice restaurants, and it’s very cool.
I shared a house with nine Brazilian girls, so it felt like home!

What did you do?
I remember I was shooting every single day that first month. Then I started to do editorials and creating looks with stylists. It was great to work behind the cameras to find out what they are doing. I opened and closed Richard Chai’s show in 2007 then I fronted his campaign.

How did you manage with English?
I learned just by listening but when I was in New York, my booker said I speak a bit. I know my English isn’t very nice, and I need to learn more. I need to practise more as I’ve been in Brazil recently to renew my visa and I’ve started to mix everything up.

Did you integrate in the US?
I feel very comfortable there. I have lots of American friends and along with my Brazilian ones, they are my New York family.

What do you miss about it?
I had my life there. I could do whatever I wanted. We’d go to the cinema, to Central Park to hang out, or read a book or play something. I know lots of people in Brazil but I don’t have so many real friends there. My family are my friends.
It can be difficult as I’m always moving about, as are other models, so we meet new friends everywhere. However, I’ve made some new ones in Sao Paulo at my church.

Tell me about Buenos Aires Fashion Week.
I’ll be appearing for Marcelo Senra and Garza Lobos but I will meet them at the fitting. I know they are important designers in Argentina and it will be a lovely experience for me as this is my first time here.

Do you feel like a tourist even though you are working in BA?
When I arrive in a new place, I want to get to know it, even though I feel like a tourist and I am working. When I went to Greece, I was a complete tourist taking photos of everything. But I’m not doing very many touristy things here as it’s so cold!

Where are you staying?
I’m sharing an apartment with another Brazilian model, which is normal in this situation around the world. Sometimes we can all be friends, or maybe we have different opinions. But there’s always one crazy girl! I’m calm and relaxed so sometimes it is difficult!
I shared a place in Sao Paulo with another girl for a bit and then she left suddenly and I had nowhere to live… but this is our life and we normally have to share a flat or a kitchen.

What else have you done here?
I was busy shooting some editorials last week and also for a catalogue, and I’m hoping to work at Buenos Aires Alta Moda week as well.

Is it hard to keep your faith in such a superficial world?
The emphasis is on what you look like, what you’re wearing, your make-up. “You need to believe in me because I look like this.” What bag I have doesn’t matter to me. I can’t take it with me when I die! If you have it, well, good for you.

What’s the best part about your job?
I get to travel all around the world. But spiritually talking, God had a purpose for my life as everywhere He sends me, I meet someone who needs to hear something about Him. It’s not my dream, it’s His, that I’m a model.

This interview took place ahead of Buenos Aires Fashion Week.

Battle of the blondes?
Writing ahead of seeing a single one of the 24 spring/summer 2012 shows at Buenos Aires Fashion Week, it’s impossible to tell you what you might be sporting on the beach and aprés-plage this summer.
What I can tell you is that some shows have taken place at distinct locations this time round, albeit for a privileged few. For example, high-end women’s wear designer María Cher started proceedings with a bang at the Paseo Alcorta shopping mall on Monday night, while casual and sassy women’s wear brand Uma hosted a show at Japanese Garden the following evening.
I can also tell you that Cristina Jurach is one of the very few foreign models participating in this Argentine fashion week, which was founded in 2006 by La Nación journalist Kika Tarelli. According to the young Brazilian model, there are plenty of her fellow-countrywomen working in the fashion industry who travel the world for photo shoots and catwalk shows, but there are also a lot of Russians vying for the same jobs.
Due to the complex nature of obtaining work papers in Argentina, the likelihood of finding a Russian model at La Rural over this past week is about as common as finding another girl with the same strong religious belief as Jurach on the circuit.
According to her Buenos Aires agency, the 23-year-old is very well-behaved among a sector of girls who could easily be led into temptation on big nights out in a strange city, courtesy of eager PRs desperate to surround their clientele with beautiful young women.
Not Jurach, though. “I like to sleep and relax at home in my pajamas,” she says, shattering the myth of crazy working days followed by crazier nights à la Kate Moss (back in the old days, right Kate?).
While mentioning catwalks, it might be appropriate to mention cat talks in the same breath. Jurach discusses the rivalry which is all so prevalent in the industry, of being scrutinized by other models, and that Argentine models can be especially judgmental.
I met a blonde English model on various occasions in Buenos Aires, who found herself continually booked and in high demand thanks to her natural looks. She put one of the secrets of her success down to the following: “Lots of Argentine models are known in the industry as ‘taxis.’ That’s because they are blonde on top and dark down below.”
I wonder what Argentina’s fairest modelling export, Valeria Mazza, would have to say about that.

Photo one by Mariano Fuchila.
Photo two, editorial from New York’s Plastic magazine, courtesy of Visage Models.

Published in Buenos Aires Herald on August 14, 2011.

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