Today, we celebrate African Women in the Fashion world; their accomplishments as well as their activism and humanitarian works. These are the faces and names you should know.
Iman Bowie: Born Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid in Mogadishu, she is a fashion icon, a supermodel, a mother, a philanthropist and an entrepreneur. Iman grew up in Kenya and Egypt and later moved to the United States to pursue her career after she was discovered by photographer Peter Beard . Iman has worked with top designers and has graced the covers of many fashion magazines throughout the years. In 1994, she launched Iman Cosmetics, targeted to ethnic women. Aside from being a Supermodel, Miss Iman is also a humanitarian: she is a spokesperson for the Save the Children organization and Keep a child alive.
Iman has been married to David Bowie since 1992. Her husband, dedicated the song Abdulmajid to her and it seems like he’s not her only fan, fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent said: My dream woman is Iman and it’s not hard to agree when you take a look at her accomplishments.
Katoucha Niane: She was a French Supermodel and Activist of Guinean origin. Katoucha was discovered in the 80s and she began her career by modeling for the likes of Christian Lacroix and Thierry Mugler. She was known as Yves Saint Laurent’s Muse.
Katoucha has been a victim of female circumcision and she decided to speak against it and give a voice to the voiceless women who suffer from this practice without having a choice. Female circumcision is practiced in some African nations. In 2007, she released her book, Dans ma chair.
Katoucha went missing in February 4, 2008, her body was later found in the Seine River on February 28, 2008.
Alek Wek: There’s no way you haven’t heard of Supermodel Alek Wek. This Dinka Princess started her promising career in 1995, she signed with Ford Models Agency and made history in 1997, when she became the first African model to grace the cover of Elle.
In addition to her career, Ms Wek is also a designer, she launched Wek 1933 a collection of handbags, she says she was inspired by her late father.
Alek is a member of the U.S. Committee for Refugees’ Advisory Council and is dedicated to the cause of refugees worldwide. She is also an ambassador for Doctors Without Borders in her native Sudan.
She released her autobiography Alek: From Sudanese Refugee to International Supermodel in 2007.
Ms Wek made appearences in music video like GoldenEye byTina Turner and Got ‘Til It’s Gone by Janet Jackson.
Waris Dirie: The desert flower was born in 1965 and was discovered by photographer Terence Donovan after escaping an arranged marriage in Somalia. She worked with Chanel, L’Oréal, Revlon and appeared in magazines like Vogue, Glamour and Elle. As a young girl, Waris was a victim of female genital mutilation, in 1998, she released her book Desert Flower, which became a bestseller.
Waris experienced tragic events when she was attacked twice by two different stalkers. The first time was in Vienna and the second in Brussels, where she went missing for three days before she was found alive, by a policeman.
A movie based on her book Desert Flower was released in 2009, Ethiopian supermodel Liya Kebede played her role. She is a Special Ambassador for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation for the UN and she was appointed as Ambassador for Peace and Security by the African Union in 2010. She created the Desert Flower Foundation in 2002. She resides in Vienna and she has a son.
Liya Kebede: The Ethiopian beauty was discovered by a film director who spotted her while she was school. After completing her studies, she gained France to start her career. She signed with Tom Ford in 2000 and she appeared in Vogue Paris in 2002. Since then, Liya has graced various editions of Vogue and worked with Yves Saint-Laurent, Victoria’s Secret,Tommy Hilfiger, Dolce & Gabbana, Revlon…
In 2003, she was named the newest face of Estée Lauder Cosmetics, becoming the first African woman as well as the first Black model to sign with the company.
In 2008, Liya launched Lemlem (to bloom, in Amharic), her traditional clothing line made by local Ethiopian artisans.
Liya is a WHO‘s Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health and she also founded the Liya Kebede Foundation that helps mothers in Ethiopia, Africa and the world as a whole.
Liya is also an actress, she starred in Desert Flower, where she played Supermodel Waris Dirie. You can also see her in the movie Black Gold.
Oluchi Onweagba: She was born in 1982 in Nigeria. She won the “Face Of Africa” contest at age 16 and later moved to New York in order to pursue her modeling career. Oluchi made the covers of various fashion magazines like Vogue, Elle, i-D, Marie Claire, Allure…She was also featured in Sports Illustrated four times.
On the runway, she worked for Chanel, Victoria’s Secret, John Galliano, Christian Dior and Giorgio Armani.
Oluchi launched her own modeling agency named OModel Africa , in South Africa, the company holds modeling contest with a reward of $50,000 and a modeling contract.
Yasmin Warsame: She was born in May 1975 in Mogadishu and later moved to Canada with her family. She attented the Seneca College, where she studied Psychology and Social Sciences. Yasmin was discovered by SHOK Models but at first, she was hesitant to sign with them as she wanted to focus on her education. Since then, she has appeared in Vogue Italia, Marie Claire Flare Magazine and has worked with Yves Saint Laurent, Tom Ford, Azzedine Alaia, amongst others.
She has a son and she resides in Canada. She is also involved with the Somali Youth Coalition in Canada, as a volunteer.
Pictures: Google Images