Haute Of Africa: The Top African Models Taking Fashion’s Center Stage

June 23, 2011  |  

Models from Africa are seizing their moment.

By Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond

When the Somali makeup mogul Iman did her first shoot for Vogue in 1976 as a model, she paved the way for the international wave of black girls you see today. From supermodel Louise Vyent in the ’80s to the current Sudanese superstar Alek Wek, these African beauties further laid the foundation for fashion’s current African “moment.” Now, African women are among modeling’s most desired faces. Zandile Blay, editor of AfricaStyleDaily.com and a Huffington Post columnist, likens the recent rise of African girls to the popularity Eastern European models have enjoyed for the last two decades. Yet Blay is cautious. “Make no mistake,” the Ghanaian-American style guru said. “We are by no means fully represented in the rank and file of top models. But from the catwalks of Paris to the lookbooks of New York’s hottest designers, African models are a presence as never before.” Even more encouraging? The many “African” looks being promoted are “a beautiful representation of [our] diversity,” according to Ethiopian model Gelila Bekele. Here are the top 11 African models showing the world how beautiful black truly is.


The Super Woman: Liya Kebede
People toss the word “supermodel” around flippantly, but true “supers” boast an enviable resume that includes covers, contracts, and campaigns—coupled with the honor of opening and closing key runway shows. Ethiopian supermodel Liya Kebede has done it all from covering Vogue, Essence, Harper’s Bazaar, and i-D to starring in campaigns for Gap, Lord & Taylor, and Ann Taylor, plus nabbing a lucrative Estee Lauder contract. She is now the face of L’Oreal, and in ’08 earned a Forbes shout-out as the 15th highest-paid model. The former face of Yves Saint Laurent, she has also represented the World Health Organization as a Goodwill Ambassador. Kebede continues to model even as she runs her eponymous foundation and pursues a career in acting. Her onscreen credits include cameos in The Good Shepherd and Lord of War. Most recently she starred in Desert Flower, a biopic based on the memoir of fellow African model, Waris Dirie.

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  • Short, sweet, to the point, FREE-exactly as ifnomrtiaon should be!

  • someonespecial

    Agbani Darego?? no?. Ok… She did win Miss World for Nigeria a while ago…

  • ted

    if it wasnt for tyler perry we wouldnt know who she is. it pays to date a famous old rich man

  • tru

    alec is whack…. ugly … joke…. nothing beautiful about her…

    • Warren2010

      Alec is beautiful in every way. Her darkness itself is is a jewel!
      goes to show, it's true that 'beauty is in the eyes of the beholder'
      And you are so unkind! What else is bothering you!

  • Warren2010

    Wow, such beauty from the Motherland. wonderful!
    I only want to add, they are surely beautiful.
    And as models go are thin (figures).
    But the my sisters here in the states
    they have the beauty and the killer bodies!
    Hey, I love you all!

  • Lerlzpearlz

    Fantastic! We don't hear about the black sisters enough in the UK, you would think nothing was happening for us, but thank God for your editorials……Black and Comely!!! just like King Solomon said in the bible. You know it's so cool to be black we don't even have to try, we just are!


    Flawless faces.

  • Mic

    This is so wonderful. Are sisters should play up their Africaness…..it makes them look fearless.

  • anony

    Exotic beauties!

  • StuckInDaMatrix

    Black is beautiful!