African models: Showing the world different shades of beauty

Australia-based model Adau Mornyang has modelled for brands such as Spitz and Kenzo and strutted her fierce walk down the New York Fashion Week runway. 

She still hasn’t grown accustomed to the idea of being treated like a supermodel or seeing her face on billboards. But she is. And as one of the continent’s success stories, her new agency Base Models expects a lot from the rising star and that is her motivation. “I have to work hard and push myself to make it to the top,” she told the Mail & Guardian.

Fellow model Ademokoya, who is fresh off the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York runway, enjoys being back at home and walking in a fashion show that “focuses on how Africa should be projected”. 

For her, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa (MBFWAfrica), is up to par with the standards of the other international fashion weeks. This is her seventh year walking for Africa Fashion International, the organisation behind MBFWAfrica. 

Her debut onto an international stage was at Nigeria’s Next Super Model 2008, where she was crowned the first runner up. Although she didn’t walk away with the big prize, Ademokoya’s determination in the industry earned her the title, Best Model of the World 2009. Now she is living out of a suitcase, modelling in cities such as London and Paris, and two nights ago she opened MBFWAfrica for the Kibonen show.

For her this year’s MBFWAfrica features “a variety of stuff” and the designers’ “creativity is better”. Ademokoya acknowledges the progress made by Africa’s fashion industry, but believes there is more to be done to improve the industry. “The African people are not projecting the African models. You see Britain shoves the British models down the world’s throat and Africa is not doing the same and that is the problem.

“Pick a girl each year and project that model and then in the next couple of years she becomes a supermodel and leaves a mark in the world,” she advises.

Themed “Our Heritage Reimagined”, MBFWAfrica 2014 showcases over 27 African designers, whose creations are paraded on the bodies of local and international models.

According to African Fashion Internal Technical Director, Deon Redman, the theme speaks to the position that African fashion is currently in. “How do we as Africans find a way to retrain our sense of culture and put it into a modern contemporary perspective?” he asks.

Ademokoya and Mornyang, like several other young models, still get compared to great African supermodels such as Alek Wek and Naomi Campbell, who came before them. But the young talents are determined to show the world different shades of African beauty.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories


press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday