Top 11 African Female Models To Watch

Here are 11 African female models that need to be on your radar as they make waves in the fashion industry.

Fashion is inextricably linked to its models, and models of color consistently serve as muses for top designers.

We are celebrating the 11 African female models below as they make major waves in the industry.

ICYMI, take a look at our top 12 African male models to know here.

1. Nyadak “Duckie" Thot (Australia/South Sudan)

Height: 5′ 10″

Agencies: New York Model Management, Premium Models (Paris), d'management group (Milan), Storm (London), Chadwick Models (Sydney)

Duckie went from placing third on Australia's Next Top Model to making an international name for herself. She left home and headed to NYC in search of acceptance of diversity and she found it. She's spoken out about her struggles with natural hair in the industry and is very conscious of the fact that she is a representation for girls that look just like her. When Rihanna launched her eponymous makeup line this year, she used this model to portray just how diverse the line was.

The depth of this model's skin jumps out at you. She literally resembles a Barbie doll. It come as no surprise that her career has taken off! She has graced an all-black 2018 Pirelli calendar, was in Rihanna's most recent Paper magazine feature and on its Fall '17 cover, landed a Vogue Australia editorial and Harper's Bazaar Kazakhstan cover, and has ripped the runway for both Yeezy and FentyxPuma. Her list of clients include Helmut Lang, DSquared2, Jeremy Scott, Mansur Gavriel, Moschino, Puma, and Sephora.

2. Adwoa Aboah (Britain/Ghana)

Height: 5′ 8″

Agencies: DNA Models (New York), Viva Paris (Paris), TESS (London), Viva (Barcelona), The Lions (New York/Los Angeles)

Adwoa was “born on a Monday" to a mother that's a successful agent and a father that is one of the most sought after location scouts in London. Fashion was a step that made sense.

She's a model in peak demand. She's worked for Burberry, Calvin Klein, Fendi, DKNY, Alexander Wang, Theory, H&M;, Aldo, Versace , Topshop, Rihanna x Puma, Kenzo, Simone Rocha, Chanel, Dior and Erdem, to name a few. Her caramel skin and freckles have even landed her on i-D, Italian Vogue and American Vogue covers alongside Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner.

The Italian Vogue cover we just spoke of came months after a suicide attempt and a subsequent coma from the trauma. She was depressed and addicted to drugs, but came out triumphant. Her triumph would be the founding of an online platform, Gurls Talk, to help girls like her deal with their sexuality, mental health, and body image.

3. Maria Borges (Angola)

Height 5' 11"

Agencies: IMG (New York/Paris/London/Milan), Traffic (Barcelona), Mega Model (Hamburg), We Are (Lisboa), MP (Stockholm)

Maria is a global ambassador for L'Oreal Paris and has graced Victoria's Secret's fashion show on many an occasion, once in particular, as the first black model to do so with natural hair. The beauty's list of clients include Balmain, Etro, Dior, Gap, Oscar de La Renta, Tom Ford, and Zac Posen. She's come a very long way from the orphan girl working in a supermarket to make ends meet.

4. Fatima Siad (Somalia/Ethiopia)

Height 5' 12''

Agencies: One Management (New York), Munich Models (Munich), Modellink (Stockholm)

After placing third in America's Next Top Model, Fatima's career took off. You can spot this beauty in editorials for American and Spanish Vogue, Elle, Australian and Indonesian Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, and Cosmopolitan. She's worked for Giorgio Armani, Hermés, Ralph Lauren, Dries Van Noten, Max Azria, Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, Hervé Léger, Tiffany & Co., Armani Exchange, BCBG, and Liz Claiborne.

What's most moving about this model is her candid talks on experiencing female genital cutting in her youth and fleeing her home for safety here in the United States.

5. Halima Aden (Somalia)

Height 5' 6.6''

Agency: IMG (New York/Paris/London/Milan)

Halima was born in a Kenyan refugee camp and moved to the States at the age of 6. Scouted after competing in a Miss Minnesota USA pageant, she walked a Yeezy runway last February and went from that to Maxmara, Albert Ferretti, American Eagle, Fenty Beauty, a Vogue Arabia cover, a Glamour cover and an Allure cover. She redefines beauty standards by doing all the aforementioned in her hijab. She is breaking barriers for Muslim women everywhere.

6. Ayaana Aschkar-Stevens (Britain/Ghana)

Height 5' 9.5"

Agency: Premier Model Management (London)

Ayaana has been in an Ivy Park editorial and hopes to work for brands like Chanel in the near future.

7. Aamito Lagum (Uganda)

Height 6'

Agencies: DNA Model Management (New York), VIVA Model Management (Paris, London, Barcelona), Why Not Model Management (Milan)

Because she is the first winner of “Africa's Next Top Model," Aamito has been in the industry since 2013. The rebel skipped out on law school for her career! She has worked with J. Mendel, Tadashi Shoji, Yeezy, Ohne Titel, Zac Posen, Marc Jacobs, Paul Smith, Bottega Veneta and H&M;. She has appeared in Elle, Allure, W Magazine, British Vogue and Vanity Fair and spoke out against slanderous trolls who berated her when MAC Cosmetics posted a picture of her luscious lips.

8. Khoudia Diop (Senegal)

Height 5' 8"

Agencies: The Colored Girl, Electric Republic

Teased as a child for her skin color, Khoudia has since been placed in a campaign for French cosmetics brand Make Up For Ever and has been making major strides in the industry advocating for people with skin with as much depth as hers. Revisit her photo story celebrating her Nyenyo heritage.

9. Amilna Estevao (Angola)

Height 5' 10"

Agencies: The Society Management (New York), Elite (Paris, Milan, London), Da Banda (Luanda)

In 2013, 14-year-old Amilna landed an Elite Look contract in her capital city and it's been smooth sailing ever since. Her resume is a laundry list of some of the most highly coveted brands in the fashion industry: Givenchy, Lanvin, Balmain, Alexander Wang, Burberry, Phillip Lim, DVF, Dolce & Gabbana, Express, Fendi, Kenzo and more.

10. Herieth Paul (Tanzania)

Height 5' 11"

Agencies: Women Management (New York, Paris, Milan), Elite Model Management (London), M4 Models (Hamburg) Folio Montreal (Montreal), AMTI: Toronto (Toronto)

Herieth has worked for Victoria's Secret, Nina Ricci, Zimmermann, Adam Selman, Stella McCartney, Lacoste, Tom Ford, Calvin Klein, Armani, Cavalli and 3.1 Phillip Lim. She has appeared in editorials for i-D, Vogue Italia, and Teen Vogue and graced the cover of Canadian Elle. Her beautiful skin has even landed her a role as a face for Maybelline New York.

11. Imaan Hammam (Netherlands/Morocco/Egypt)

Height 5' 10"

Agencies: DNA Model Management (New York), VIVA Model Management (Paris, London, Barcelona), Why Not Model Management (Milan), CODE Management (Amsterdam)

Imaan prides herself on being an African-Arab model opening doors for girls just like her. The Muslim model celebrates all aspects of who she is. She's covered American Vogue on two occasions and has received Anna Wintour's applaud many a time. She's worked for Burberry, Alexander McQueen, Maison Margiela, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Prada, Michael Kors, Moschino, Chanel, DKNY, Jean Paul Gaultier, Hugo Boss, Stella McCartney, Oscar de la Renta, and much more. Her career is on fire!

Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Nadia Nakai Explains Why She Never Used to Work With Women Rappers

"Because I would have never shined as Nadia Nakai. I would have shined as another female rapper."

South African rapper Nadia Nakai is gearing to release her debut album. She recently did an interview with the website Slikour On Life in which she spoke about, among other things, squashing beef, the work behind her album and the importance of dressing up for her performances.

She also spoke about why she has always been opposed to all-female collaborations, especially those whose selling point is that they are all-girl collaborations.

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Photo: courtesy of Natsai Audrey Chieza

100 Women: Natsai Audrey Chieza is Changing the World One Petri Dish at a Time

Her interdisciplinary approach to biology and fashion has sparked conversation about the future of sustainability and pollution in textile manufacturing.

The bold jewel tones of OkayAfrica 100 Women honoree Natsai Audrey Chieza's silk scarves aren't the product of hazardous chemicals or silkscreen printing. Instead, they are the product of bacteria. Specifically coelicolor, a strain of bacteria found in soil that happens to excellently synthesize organic chemical compounds. Working in the trade for six years, the Zimbabwean materials designer quickly came to understand why the textile industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Knowing that the most harm occurs during the process of dyeing fabrics, she decided to take action.

Chieza has worked with leading brands such as Microsoft, Nissan, and Unilever to usher in a new approach to science and design. Through her creative R&D; studio Faber Futures, the design innovator uses the process of creating with bacteria to assist in moving mankind away from our fossil fuel dependency. As the biopigment expert put it [last year during her TED talk "Fashion has a pollution problem—can biology fix it?"], in the future we must make sure that we are not "mirroring the destructive legacies of the oil age."

Her interdisciplinary approach to biology and fashion has sparked spirited conversation about the future of sustainability and pollution in textiles. Here, Chieza expounds on her start, the pros and cons of creating something new and the urgency of change.

The following has been edited for length and clarity

Akinyi Ochieng for OkayAfrica: STEM and the arts are often conceptualized as separate worlds. However, in your career, you've managed to find the overlap. How did you, a materials designer, end up dabbling in biotechnology?

Natsai Audrey Chieza: I've always really wanted to work within the creative field. I used to work in architecture where I really enjoyed my education in a systems approach to designs and designing for multiple contexts. But I wanted to explore a different side of the design world, so I began exploring the skill and context of material flows, and how technology and futures fits within this framework of how we design.

For my own work and my practice, not having a scientific background made me try things based on what I understood about materials and what I understood about the interactions in which those materials existed in society. I'm interested in a political lens, an economic lens, and how textiles perform in reality. That's not necessarily the approach that a scientist would have taken. Now that's not to say that science isn't important—it's vital. But innovation can occur in that intersection.

Did you go into this thinking, "Oh, I'll figure it out. There must be a path to make this work"?

To be honest, when I started off, the field was not defined. I think I found something really interesting, which was about how biology was becoming a realm of design, and I just explored that as best as I knew how as a designer and non-scientist. It just so happened that around me there was a context that was imagined but enabled me six years later to say, "That's the industry where this work belongs" and stakeholders who give me a space to further my work in a creative and experimental. The path was never anything clear at all. I learned as I grew.

There's a phrase that is often repeated today: "You can't be what you can't see." But you have really created a niche for yourself. What are the benefits of entering an emerging space?

I think what's amazing is not having anyone or anything telling you that what you think is impossible. If you're carving a new territory then you must trust in your instinct and vision to effectively push where the work can be and where it exists. You're not asking permission to do anything. Of course the flip side of that is you have to bring people with you, and so part of you being able to do the work is convincing people that your vision has legitimacy and it's worth exploring, worth taking a risk to look outside of that box.

It's often quite challenging to figure out how to find the strength to push something that hasn't been done before. There's no precedent or rulebook to my work, but sometimes it's really nice to have a rulebook. [Laughs] However, I think it's made me a person who doesn't see challenges as obstacles that are in the way, but more as problems that can be solved. And I think that's the good thing.

Much of your work is about biopigments. What color excites you?

It's not really the colors that excite me. It's color as a cultural context that really fascinates me. I'm really interested in if a microbe is almost like this living factory that produces this pigment, and the technology can be shared and deployed with people as to how you work with it across the world, then what are the cultural interventions that can happen in South Africa versus in Argentina versus in the United Kingdom, based on this common microbe. I think that's always been what interests me the most, the context in which our materials exist. I think a really good example is indigo, and how from Japan to West Africa, indigo is just this really, really rich material, and the process and the craftsmanship that goes into it. I'm interested to see how the future ecology of making arises in response to biotechnologies across the world.

Where do you see yourself and your work evolving in the near or long term?

I'm sort of going through that growth moment where you've been working toward something and then you've arrived at that and you're like, "Right, what's next?" I think I'm fundamentally somebody that wants to use design as a discursive tool to understand how our technologies proliferate. My focus is really on the imagined life sciences and how they're going to become very much a part of all of our lived experiences, and particularly in the context of really urgent changes that are happening from a local level to a global level. From global warming and climate change to resource scarcity across regions, our response to what I think being able to design with living systems, can afford us in the future. So my work really is about understanding how to engage stakeholders across different sectors to grow a consensus around how we're going to leverage these sorts of technologies so that they can be technologies for good. That's really where this is going.

This article appears as part of OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2018—a project highlighting the impactful work done by African women across the globe. Throughout March, we will be publishing a series of profiles, videos, interviews and feature stories on these inspirational women.

Click here to see the entire list of 2018 honorees.

Maia & The Big Sky LP cover.

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Maia & the Big Sky connect with Blinky Bill for "Pawa."

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The Nairobi-based artist is now sharing the new music video for "Pawa," the album's leading track, which we're premiering here today. Directed by Chris King, the beautiful new clip sees Maia & the Big Sky taking over the TV airwaves and minds of all of those watching, freeing them from the "power" that controls them.

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