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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!

Photos
"The Astral." Photo by Mikael Owunna.

This Photo Series Is a Much-Needed Counter to Violent Images of the Black Body

"Infinite Essence" is Nigerian-American photographer Mikael Owunna's response to the one-dimensional narrative we tend to see of the black body.

This beautiful, thought-provoking photo series affirms what we already know—that the black body is magical, no matter what odds are against us.

Nigerian-American photographer, Mikael Owunna, touched base with OkayAfrica to share his new photo series, Infinite Essence. The series is Owunna's response to America's issue of police brutality, like the murders of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castile and Walter Scott, and the viral and violent images of the dead black body we've seen as a result.

"It has become frighteningly routine to turn on the television or log onto Facebook and see a video or image of a black person either dead or dying, like images of Africans dying in the Mediterranean," Owunna says.

"With this series, I work to counter these one-dimensional narratives of the black body as a site of death and destruction with imagery capturing what I see in my friends, family and community—love, joy, and ultimately, magic."

Owunna worked on Infinite Essence for the past year, and says his creative process began with a feeling. As he notes further, it's was a process of trial and error.

"I was beginning to explore my own spirituality and journey and learning about how black, queer and trans people in particular were respected for their magical abilities in many pre-colonial African societies. I was meditating on this idea of magic and how I can capture that in my work, harkening back to the 'Final Fantasy' video games and anime series I grew up on. How could I capture all of this? I did two pretty disastrous test shoots using long exposures and lights, that did nothing for me artistically.

It had none of the feeling I was looking for. So I went back to the drawing board. I pulled up Google image search results of magic in Final Fantasy and kept scrolling and scrolling and staring at images that had that emotional tug, that spiritual capture of magic and transcendence that I so wanted to bring into the work. As I was staring at the works, a voice in my head told me glow in the dark paints, and then from looking at that I found the world of UV photography. As soon as I saw some sample works in that space, I knew that was the direction the project would go and it was all steam ahead."

Shooting this series was the first time Owunna collaborated with makeup artists Karla Grifith-Burns and Davone Goins to bring his vision to life. "It was powerful and inspirational and brought so much structure to my feeling and thought," he says.

Owunna settled on the name of his series after reading about Odinani, the Igbo traditional belief system.

"Seeking to understand the basics of that, I came across brilliant writing by Chinua Achebe wherein he used the phrase 'infinite essence' and that clicked everything around it," he says. "When I can name something, it brings it to life in my head in stunning color."

Click through the slideshow below view Owunna's series, Infinite Essence. Read his artist statement for the project, where he speaks more in depth of Achebe's work on infinite essence here. The series is also on display at Owunna's solo exhibition at Montréal's Never Apart Gallery from today until April 7, 2018.

"The Astral." Photo by Mikael Owunna.

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