María María: Glamour and vision
By Iris Edén Santiago
Special to The Star
María Rosa Silva is a model, entrepreneur, lecturer and television personality. The former beauty queen is also one of the most respected names in the local fashion industry.
One of the best known faces in the Puerto Rico fashion scene, Silva was recently recognized as “Fashion Icon 2022” by the West Fashion Week organization.
Known professionally as María María, the Santurce native has a career that spans over four decades. Her image has been all over the news media and fashion publications on the island since the early 1980s. Those were the golden years of fashion in Puerto Rico, said the business woman who was trained by and later worked with three of the most beloved and respected Puerto Rican modeling gurus: Anna Santisteban, Grace Fontecha and Rose Pérez.
Her life as a top fashion model was meant to be. It all began before winning several beauty pageants locally and globally, including the “Miss Latin America” crown in 1983, “Miss World Puerto Rico” in 1984 and “Miss Photo Model of the World” in 1998.
“I had been taking ballet lessons since I was very little,” Silva said. “But at 15 years old, I was 5 foot 10 and taller than everybody, everywhere. … In ballet class boys were shorter, so I had no partner to dance with.”
It was her mother who then suggested modeling school, a move that changed her life forever. Soon she was modeling in “Destellos de la Moda” (an early version of the current fashion events), at the Caribe Hilton’s La Rotisserie Lunch Fashion Shows, and individual shows for booming designers and big cosmetic companies all over town.
Even though she always had modeling jobs which back then paid very well, María María studied for a career in nursing and graduated with flying colors.
“I knew modeling would not be forever,” she said. “I wanted a job that would provide stability and a way of life after the runways.”
And yet she never worked a day as a nurse in her life. Modeling did provide.
She has modeled for runway giants such as Carlota Alfaro, Luis Fuentes, Fernando Pena, Sonia Rivera, Carolina Herrera, Harry Robles, the late Osvaldo Morales, Nono Maldonado, Heriberto Vázquez, Ángel Lòpez and David Antonio. Her work has not gone unnoticed internationally, as she has modeled in cities all over the States, in Turkey and Germany, and in Paris.
Having worked as a model and behind the scenes hand in hand with many designers, María María has the inside scoop into the world of couture. Yet it is her discretion that wins her the respect and admiration of an industry that trusts her with the coordination and hosting of some of the most important fashion events in Puerto Rico.
Herself a role model and inspiration for thousands of young models in training, we asked her about her own role models.
“Oprah Winfrey,” she said without hesitation. “She’s accomplished so much! In the fashion world? Iris Apfel. I love her attitude, her positivity and mental clarity at 102 years. Her fashion sense is fabulous! Everything looks great on her.”
To this day a beacon of elegance, María María is a highly respected fashion consultant who produces her own television show, “Contigo Siempre.” She regularly lectures about style, fashion trends, professional modeling, plus-size fashions, corporate etiquette, public speaking, self-esteem, table manners, makeup techniques, social etiquette and other women’s issues. In May she was listed as one of the “Best Dressed Women” by San Juan Moda.
For corporate events and more information: Maríamaría_tv @contigosiempretv13 and @curvymodelsbymm.