In a first, ‘British Vogue’ puts nine dark-skinned African models on cover
The cover is an attempt at ‘redefining what is it to be a fashion model’
Entertainment DeskJanuary 17, 2022
The latest issue of British Vogue made a anti-tokenism statement on its cover by featuring nine dark-skinned models of African heritage, which includes model Adut Akech. Terming the cover an attempt at “redefining what it is to be a fashion model”, Editor-in-chief Edward Enninful asserted that it was well overdue.
The cover seemingly takes inspiration from a similar 1990 cover by photographer Peter Lindhberg which introduces the concept of the supermodel to the world, and featured only white women. Explaining the idea behind the cover, Enninful shared, “I saw all these incredible models from across Africa who were just so vivacious and smart.”
He added, “You know, fashion tends to follow waves. We’ve had the Brazilian wave. We had the Dutch wave, the Russian wave, the Eastern European wave… and while, in the last decade, the Black model has come to prominence, I love that we are finally giving more space to African beauty.”
Akech spoke about her experiences in the Vogue feature, sharing, “When I first started modelling internationally, I would literally be the only Black, dark-skinned girl in the show. There were no Sudanese models, no African models. Now I go to a show and there are girls from my country, girls from Africa who look like me. So yes, there has been a huge change. It has gone from me being the only one at a show to 15 or 20 of us. I’m just so happy that we are finally at this place. I was tired of always feeling out of place and feeling like an outcast.”
Sudanese model Anok Yai, who is also featured on the cover, echoed Akech’s sentiments. She explained, “In the beginning, I felt really isolated. I got thrown into the modelling industry very quickly and I kind of had to navigate it on my own. I also have social anxiety, and so I struggled a lot with connecting with people. Backstage, there would maybe be one other Black girl, but now my tribe is backstage. I can speak my own language to my friends. They are basically like my family.”
The cover also features models Nyagua Ruea, Majesty Amare, Amar Akway, Janet Jumbo, Maty Fall, Abény Nhial and Akon Changkou.
Vogue contributing casting director shares that the lack of middle men in the world of social media has helped a lot of African model come to the forefront. She shared, “Over the years, I have had to do my scouting through an agent, perhaps based in Milan or Paris, who would filter their choices down to me. Now, thanks to social media, I can reach out directly to scouts in say Rwanda or Burundi or Uganda and find a great girl. They can also text, WhatsApp or find me through Instagram. The level of access through social media is just incredible. This means I’m now able to choose girls through my own lens, which makes the process so much more democratic and inclusive.”