Lorena Durán, a 29-year-old native of Seville, is not your typical model. She is punctual. “I don’t like to keep people waiting. I’m very organized and I like to arrive at least five minutes early,” she asserts, even before 9 a.m. in a Brooklyn studio, astonishingly beating stylists and other team members. She’s ready for the interview, despite not considering herself a “morning person.” Does this 29-year-old Sevillian – who has been a Victoria’s Secret angel and the face of Abercrombie – represent a new paradigm, signaling the end of diva behavior in the fashion industry? “We are changing… but there’s everything. Not long ago, a more diva-like model came in. Since I’m very down-to-earth and behave as I do at home, I felt a bit of disdainful treatment towards me. And it was like: ‘Come on, girl, let’s make this day a pleasant and cool workday.’ In the end, everyone was infected by her energy and it wasn’t pleasant,” she asserts candidly.

In addition to being punctual, Lorena is anti-labels, although she ends up being tagged with all those indicating that she doesn’t belong to the lineage of slim models: curvy, plus size, body positive… “Why do we have to sugarcoat the word to make it sound less harsh or ugly? If I’m fat, I’m fat, I’m not going to take it badly.” She wasn’t always like this. Since she was 3 years old, she would put on her mother’s heels and shoulder pads and dream of being a model, but at 15 she was diagnosed with ovarian torsion that changed her body. After the surgery and due to medication and hormones, she went from a size 36 to a 44 in a matter of months, but she decided to keep pushing despite the fashion world’s rejections and her mother’s pressure to study for a laboratory technician, a job she eventually held. “So it wasn’t luck,” she says to those who think she’s now jumping on the inclusive fashion bandwagon. “I’ve heard thousands of times ‘you’re fat, your size doesn’t fit.’ If girls like me hadn’t pushed for this to happen, no one would have paid attention,” she asserts, and takes the opportunity to emphasize that less slim models “take care of themselves like other models, not anything goes.” Her discipline is strict, but she believes in showing cellulite and stretch marks, allows an occasional burger to appear in her catering, and life has taught her a lesson she doesn’t want to unlearn: “Women tend to have their bodies change, to gain and lose weight very easily. I’ve heard a lot of both ‘lose weight, lose weight’ and ‘eat, eat’,” she describes, who, with her current size 38, also doesn’t play in the league of an Ashley Graham. “I will never be in a slim size because my body isn’t built that way, but I’m not a fattening cow either. I am the one you see right now. Do you like it? Great. Don’t? That’s fine too. But don’t ask me to change to fit into what you want.”

“Her passion for fashion, however, cost her exile. ‘One day in Seville, a representative told me: the world of diversity has arrived, but you have to leave here.’ And the rest, as they say, is history. At 19, she was already in London. From there, she moved to Italy, France, and Germany, until she arrived in the United States, where she was invited to her dream casting call. ‘When my booker sent me an email and told me I had a casting call for Victoria’s Secret, I said: ‘Oh, you must be mistaken! This must be for another girl.” But they wanted her. They even let her do the audition in Spanish. ‘But there were like eight other American girls, and I thought it was disrespectful to speak to them in Spanish. I summoned my strength and my English from wherever I could and, with my personality, I did it with a lot of grace and swagger, and everyone was like, ‘Wow!'”

Lorena Durán’s boom in the United States was such that echoes reached her home country that a “fat” model from Seville was working for L’Oréal or Intimissimi. “It pains me that our country doesn’t bet on the quality of what it has. We have to go abroad and then, after a while, return for them to value us as they have done from the start in other places… The United States was a before and after for me. Everything is more free and easier, but I wouldn’t trade my country for anything in the world. I miss my food and my people, but everything has its moment, and for me, it’s time to squeeze my career to the max,” she asserts. However, since the pandemic and with the privilege of being able to choose, she lives between Spain and New York and enjoys the best of both worlds.

As Lorena Durán enters her thirties, she feels like she’s on the rise, although she can’t help but exclaim, “Oh my God, it feels like just yesterday I was in my twenties!” She continues to be on the roster for Victoria’s Secret and Abercrombie, has walked the runways of Madrid Fashion Week, Barcelona’s 080, and Pronovias, and adds to that being the face of the Parisian lingerie brand Etam. She still dreams of breaking into haute couture one day (mentioning Chanel) or would love to work with Savage X Fenty, Rihanna’s fashion line known for its diversity. Additionally, she is quietly working on her own clothing line. “It will be something free, something unisex, for whoever wants it, whenever they want it, however they want it. Something very soft, very comfortable, and very versatile. For traveling, for the sofa, or for going out. And of course, available in sizes small to very large,” she emphasizes.

But with her success, she doesn’t want to deceive anyone: the journey has not been easy, and she still bears the scars. “I think it’s important to talk about mental health. I won’t deny that I have a remote psychologist and that the anxieties I had in the past still come back sometimes. I’m alone most of the time because of my job, even though people see me posing in a bikini in the Caribbean. Sometimes I’m not okay, and I believe it’s important to talk about it. We owe it to the girls who are coming up,” she concludes.