In Vogue

Models Increase Humanitarian Efforts

Though fashion models have historically been more likely to attend black-tie fundraisers than rallies in remote areas of the world, environmental and economic issues have made green the new black for models in recent years. Members of the fashion elite have gotten their perfectly manicured hands dirtier, as humanitarian work nearly becomes as required in fashion as it has long been in Hollywood. Former supermodel and current Nivea spokeswoman Tasha de Vasconcelos says, “Maybe it wasn’t so in fashion to be thinking about these causes before, but it’s almost been forced.” Vasconcelos opened a maternity ward in Malawi in April with the help of Louis Vuitton. “Since the fall of Lehman Brothers,” the Mozambique-born beauty says, “We are responsible to partnerships, to giving and to sharing with others.” Other models are also giving back, like Gisele Bündchen, whose work to protect rain forests in her native Brazil earned her a United Nations good-will ambassador title. Alek Wek has been helping increase health standards in her birth country, Sudan. And Russian-born Natalia Vodianova has raised funds for her Naked Heart Foundation, with Calvin Klein’s help, to build playgrounds for children in her former home. “This is the year when the journey of beauty joined with the journey of credibility,” Vasconcelos says.