British Vogue’s February 2022 cover featuring nine Black African models has been praised by critics. Models Adut Akech, Akway Amar, Majesty Amare, Akon Changkou, Dibaa Maty, Jumbo Janet, Abeny Nhial, Nyaguaa, and Anok Yai all shared the cover.
The heritage of the women ranged from Nigerian to Ethiopian to Sudanese to Rwandan, and they were photographed by Rafael Pavarotti. The amazing magazine cover comes amid calls for the industry to include more models from diverse backgrounds.
“I saw all these incredible models from across Africa who were just so vivacious and smart,” said Edward Enninful, British Vogue’s editor-in-chief in the magazine. “These girls are redefining what it is to be a fashion model.”
Enninful also wrote on Instagram: “No longer just one or two dark-skinned girls mingled backstage, but a host of top models took a meaningful, substantial and equal place among the most successful women working in fashion today. It means so much to me to see it.”
The models featured also spoke about the stunning cover. “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,” Akech told British Vogue.
“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.”
Egyptian-born Sudanese model Yai also shared how she has made it in the industry. “In the beginning, I felt really isolated,” Yai said. “I got thrown into the modeling 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.”
Makeup artist Ammy Drammeh said she was inspired by a photo of the iconic Grace Jones for the look. “African women and their elegance is at the centre of this beauty look,” Drammeh said. “That elegance is innate, you know? They’re not trying, they just are.”
She said she did not want to do too much on their faces, just “highlight their natural beauty, while creating something chic and elegant — I wanted to stay away from all the clichés, like creating a tribal look on an African story… I didn’t want to go there.”
The February 2022 issue of British Vogue will hit newsstands on January 18.