Mexican model Karen Vega wearing a jumpsuit by Elit Rue, and a hat by Pompi García.
¡Que viva México!

A win for the culture! Model Karen Vega represents Oaxaca in high-fashion spread

For the first time an oaxaqueña graces the Latin American edition of Vogue magazine.

Model Karen Vega shows how Oaxacan culture has ‘everything’ to be considered high-fashion. The 18-year-old posed for Vogue México y Latinoamérica’s July editorial spread wearing nothing but Mexican brands. According to the publication, this is the first time an oaxaqueña (Wa-hah-ken-yah) graces the Latin American edition of Vogue magazine.

For months, editors at Vogue México y Latinoamérica are using the platform to highlight the beauty, diversity, and richness of the Aztec country; however, this opportunity was unexpected for Vega. “It was a great surprise, from the moment I received the invitation,” the model says. “The day I had the magazine in my hands, and I could see my portrait in print, my family was incredibly happy. It was a dream that we thought was very far away or, perhaps, would never happen.”

Oaxaca is a state located in the southwestern portion of Mexico and is known for its indigenous peoples, cherished culture and ancient traditions. “It has a lot of folklore and traditions,” she says. “From when we were young, we participated in all of our community’s traditional festivities, so we grew up singing, dancing, and enjoying the celebrations. Living here is very inspiring because there is always a lot of colors and artistic expression everywhere,” Vega continued.

Although her name is recently getting recognition, Vega isn’t new to modeling or fashion. The Mexican beauty began her career when she was a kid serving as a live mannequin for Oaxacan designer Pompi Garcia. “I think that was when I became interested in the world of fashion,” she says. “I always enjoyed trying the designer’s dresses, having photos taken, and being asked to pose. From that moment, I knew that I had the talent to be a model,” she revealed.

The model also shared with Vogue that despite Oaxacan fashion is unique; modern designs are still making their way up. “Oaxaca is best known for its traditional or Indigenous clothing, which represents different communities,” she says. “In terms of contemporary design or modeling agencies, it’s still taking off. For now, the only modeling agency that exists is the one I belong to.” According to the fashion publication, Vega is part of Talento Espina, a boutique agency representing overlooked models. “The requirements that have been put in place in the fashion industry in Mexico have meant that only a very small group of Mexicans have been able to get into it,” she added. “I believe that my agency will cause a big change in the city and other cities in the south of the country. Right now, most Mexican models are currently from the north.”

The same way Oaxaca’s state is slowly opening to the fashion industry, Vega is also exploring and learning about looks and what she likes. “I am just starting to develop my style as a result of my modeling,” she says. “I now have more knowledge about silhouettes, colors, and the styles that I really like to wear. I have discovered that black is my favorite color and that oversized silhouettes—with a hint of the rocker—make me feel very comfortable.”

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Proud of her achievement and grateful for her chair at the fashion table, Vega is still looking forward to a world where people recognize and respect her culture and people. “We need more representation of Mexicans around the world—and also within Mexico as well as more representation of different types of women and men,” she says. “Any project that represents my heritage will always make me very happy.”

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