When Vogue Italia’s now-legendary all-Black issue hit newsstands in September 2008, the first thing we said was “I mean, duh, we’re fierce and we’ve been fierce.” The second thing we said was, “Wait, who’s this drop-dead gorgeous Arlenis Sosa girl?” As it turned out, the Dominican Republic-born beauty was fashion’s Next Big Thing. Sosa had made her catwalk debut in Banana Republic’s Spring ’08 show only months before landing the coveted Vogue Italia gig–but seemingly overnight, the sultry-lipped, lush-eyebrowed stunner had become a fashion superstar. Suddenly, she was swanning through the Met Ball, sexing up the Victoria’s Secret catwalk, and landing the modeling motherload–a contract with cosmetics giant Lancome. Here, the 21-year-old chats with us about her favorite mascaras, the secret behind her stunning skin, and the modeling job that changed everything.

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