Top models have officially taken over W Magazine’s 50th Anniversary Issue. In honor of the occasion, the magazine unveiled 17 captivating stars ranging from the world’s most famous names to women on the verge of total fashion dominance. Among them are four of Africa’s top models: Iman, Adut Akech, Anok Yai, and Alek Wek.
Naomi Campbell, Amber Valletta, Iman, Kendall Jenner, Precious Lee, Cindy Crawford, Bella Hadid, Karlie Kloss, Christy Turlington Burns, Shalom Harlow, He Cong, Loli Bahia, Sora Choi, and Binx Walton are also on the list.
The covers were photographed by a team of photographers. Models wore a variety of stunning looks for the issue and discussed the industry’s past, present, and future.
Naomi Campbell Gives Back
First and foremost, I enjoy what I do. To have a career that actually lasts, you must. Although I don’t have a specific professional plan, I now enjoy using my platform to support up-and-coming designers.
The children I work with are not only in the well-known markets, but also in places like Africa, the Middle East, and India. Because of my reputation and my in-depth familiarity with the fashion industry, I am able to bring these children the recognition they merit. I’ve been given so much by the fashion industry, and I believe in spreading that.
Iman recalls her favorite runway moments
The trajectory of my fashion moment would not exist if it weren’t for Thierry Mugler. Many of the designers at the time were very cautious about how they wanted to present me. Yves Saint Laurent is another favorite of mine. Thierry Mugler, on the other hand, was like an MGM director. His performances were cinematic. He let me play whatever character I wanted on stage. In a world full of trends, I was always the girl who looked classic. But Mugler flipped the script and let me be a wild, African glamour girl, and editors and other designers recognized me as such.
When I first arrived in the United States, there was a widespread belief that there could only be one Black model at a time, which fostered hostility and competition among us.
But my friends and I were able to change that. I never called myself a Black woman in Somalia, where I grew up, because there was no reason to.
The entire country is dark. My identity was based on my worth. On purpose, I began making friends with Black models.
They were going to tell me who was the best photographer for us, the best hairdresser for our hair, and the best makeup artist for our skin. So we formed a tribe, and we are still that tribe.
Adut Akech discusses what drew her to modeling.
I wanted to be a model because I was always inspired by models like Naomi Campbell. One thing that surprised me was how difficult this job is. I never expected it to be easy, but you never know until you try it.
Being the second Black woman to ever end a Chanel haute couture show as the bride in 2018 was one of many remarkable milestones in my career.
Karl Lagerfeld personally selected me.
Models now have a voice thanks to social media. We can criticize brands for lacking sufficient diversity.
Everyone is being compelled to abandon their outdated practices and adopt the proper behavior, which is to include models from various backgrounds.
Anok Yai on the recent changes in the modeling industry
I was unaware that I was the first Black model to launch a Prada show since Naomi Campbell until I did so. Even after everyone congratulated me as I stepped off the runway, I was still unaware. My agency didn’t call me till after that. That was a strange encounter, and it ranks among my most significant professional experiences.
Models have had more creative freedom since the Covid pandemic. I’ve had the opportunity to creative-direct a few shoots, and I’ve realized that at this point in my career, I can be more than just a model I can be an artist. A runway show is, at its core, a collaborative effort.
As a model, you may at times feel like nothing more than a hanger. But it feels like a performance when I’m on the runway. I’ve reached a point where if you don’t give me artistic freedom, I’ll just take it.
Alek Wek discusses how her modeling approach has evolved as she has gotten older.
Everyone has a story to tell, but I believe that mine is particularly insightful into the power of perseverance. I began when I was a little child, having fled a terrible conflict in South Sudan. Alek Wek now represents diversity when you look at him. Alek Wek is accompanied by the sound of doors opening.
I never imagined I would be employed at this age, and I am grateful to my mother every day for that. It is genetics. Similar to Benjamin Button, I am. Teenagers and young adults try to talk to me!
Now I make my own decisions. I don’t have to be in a place where people treat me badly. For the first time, I’m honoring not only my work, but also myself as a human being and a woman.
Photography: @MertAlas & @marcuspiggot
Makeup: @anglomamakeup for Pat McGrath Labs
Set Design: @mhs_artists
Set Design: @mhs_artists
Content courtesy of W Magazine & NFH