Although she is still well-known in America, on this side of the Atlantic many seem to have forgotten about Valeria Mazza, the Argentinian model who walked down the catwalk together with Linda, Naomi, Claudia and Cindy, was one of the original Versace girls, graced covers of fashion magazines, starred in campaigns of the biggest fashion houses and was Valentino’s muse.
The blue-eyed girl was born in 1972, in Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina. When she was 14, a friend of the family helped Valeria get her first modelling job. The very first fashion show took place in Paraná, her home city.
After finishing high school Valeria moved to Buenos Aires to study Occupational Therapy. Since she was a teen, the girl made it her mission to help people with disabilities, so her choice of study course didn’t surprise anyone.
While studying Valeria and working as a volunteer, she continued modelling. Her first job was for Caro Cuore, a Buenos Aires-based company.
In 1992 Valeria moved to the States, but spent a lot of time travelling to Milan and Paris where she worked for Armani, Valentino, Dolce&Gabbana, Dior, Versace, Ralph Lauren and Ferre. In 1995 Valeria was discovered by Paul Marciano and became a new face of Guess. More campaigns followed… Versace, Donna Karan, Caractere, Escada, Halston and Chanel – a supermodel-worthy list, indeed.
No matter how busy she was, Valeria never stopped helping Special Olympics organisation and in 1993 was appointed its international Ambassador.
In 1996 the Sunday Times and El Mundo papers conducted a survey among their readers in order to select the one hundred 20th century most important women. There were only two models in the final list: Valeria Mazza and Claudia Schiffer.
In the same year she appeared on a cover of Sports Illustrated alongside Tyra Banks and continued building her impressive modelling portfolio working for Elle, Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Glamour as well as many Latin American glossies.
In 1998 Valeria Mazza met her future husband, Alejandro Gravier. They married on 9 May and welcomed their first new born, Balthazar, in 1999. Since then Valeria gave birth to three more beutiful children, two boys, Tiziano and Benicio and a girl, Taina.
Soon after the wedding Valeria and her husband as she were honoured with an invitation to the Vatican. The model attended a ceremony on the occasion of the first year of Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s death. Valeria and her husband met John Paul II during this ceremony. She then became the first model that the Pope received officially. In 2006 Valeria and her family travelled back to Vatican for the second visit. On this occasion, the Pope Benedict XVI received her and her family in a private audience.
Her family life didn’t stop Valeria from modelling. She appeared in more than 350 magazine covers worldwide, starred in more than 30 TV ads of Lux, San Pellegrino, Villavicencio, Pepsi and Falabella, among others. She also made a few TV appearances including MTV Latin America, Domenica In, San Remo’s Festival, Scommettiamo Che? and Come Sorelle in Italy and Esta noche invito yo, her own show in Latin America.
In addition to modelling Valeria developed her own make up line, VM Beauty, which includes perfumes, lotions and make up and became a columnist for Viva magazine.
In 2007 she flew to Milan to take part in a fashion show against anorexia organised by National Chamber of Fashion. After the show 30 models including Valeria Mazza received the “Giusto Equilibrio” (Exact Balance) award, because she is considered a reference of beauty and health in the fashion world.
Photo source: Elle 1992, Vogue Italia 1997 (photography: Walter Chin), Atelier Versace Spring/Summer 1996 campaign, Elle US October 1993, Escada Sport 1997 campaign, Elle Argentina via tfs, Marie Claire (photography: Myers Robertson), Caractere campaign, Valeria Mazza & her family, Elle Argentina, Elle Mexico June 2010