By Magretta Sowah

No doubt 2015 was the year of the entrepreneur – the dream catcher/seeker, internet breaker. Political and emotional avenues were given within the fashion industry because of recurring underlining issues. These include; beauty standards, weight management and exploitation, gender neutrality, androgyny (and its benefits), social changes in the business of fashion and of course, The Edit – all aided by social media.

EBONY magazine, for their September issue 2015, brought attention to the diverse and colourful world of black female models. You can have a look here. Believe it or not, black is not one-size-fits-all – ask anyone from Africa and they will tell you that being African is a code of conduct; a way of life rooted deeper than melanin and linguistics.

Yes its true black models have been scouted for years, but almost always cast as a background model – a novelty, but never in the forefront or cover. Though the reasons for this continued to be debated, in 2016 the Black Model continues to grace covers, runways and editorials. In case you were not familiar with these dark beauties i have compiled a list of rising starlets and timeless icons in prominence and portfolio.

So here, in glorious fashion, are the freshmen, sophmore and senior class of the black fe(male) model tribe.

*Please note there are many fierce and inspiring black models in the industry. This list is a shout-out to them also, in spirit.


Freshmen Class 2016 – 

They say the expert at something was once as beginner. No one is born knowing things a person of old age is just beginning to discover. The following may be freshmen but they have the valedictorian spirit…

Milan Dixonblack models

The Nevada native is a newbie who studied at Texas Southern University. She’s currently signed to PhotoGenics and has been featured in editorials for Elle South Africa, Cosmopolitan South Africa and Marie Claire South Africa.

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Name: Milan Dixon

Stepped on the scene: Early 2000s

Most known for: Gracing the cover of ELLE magazine South Africa #RunwayForAfrica

Bragging rights: Killer tooth gap SU|PER SEX|Y

Website/Contact: Portfolio – MajorModel   Instagram – @modelmilano

Samantha Archibaldblack models

The Jamaican-German model was discovered and signed to Michele Pommier when she was 14. Now she’s signed to Major Model Management in New York and Storm Model Management in London (the same agency that signed Cara Delevingne). Archibald hasn’t landed any major advertising campaigns yet, but she’s posed for editorials in Interview, Nylon, Elle and Love and walked in fashion shows for Jeremy Scott, Moschino, Prada, DSquared2, and Moncler.

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Name: Samantha Archibald

Stepped on the scene: 2013

Most known for: being one of the printastic models at Moschino S/S 15 RTW. #BarbieForever

Bragging rights: Saying loud and proud that she’s a feminist (she even had it on a shirt).

Website/Contact: Instagram – @thinkthinkbrainblast


Sophmore Class 2016 – 

These models have been in the game long enough that they are household names. We love them for their personality as well as a.a.a.amazing good looks. I guess you can have it all…

Alek Wekblack models

Sudan-born Alek Wek was discovered at a London outdoor market. She was able to catch the attention of the industry when she appeared in the music video of “Golden Eye” by Tina Turner. Since then, she has graced major ads for a lot of companies, including Clinique, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, and Victoria’s Secret among many others.

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Name: Alek Wek

Stepped on the scene: Early 2008

Most known for: Being a bad*ss bold chick – stand aside Amber Rose – with sensual lips. Oh yes! #ReadMyLips

Bragging rights:  Being an advisor to the US Committee for Refugees since 2002.

Website/contact: Twitter – @therealalekwek

Jourdan DunnBlack Models

London born Jourdan Dunn was discovered in a local Primark at 16 by the legendary agency Storm Models (who also discovered Kate Moss) and has been unstoppable ever since. Voted the British Fashion Council’s “Model of the Year” in 2008 as well as being one of the 4 cover models for Vogue Italia’s iconic Black Models issue, July 2008. Has walked the runways for nearly every top designer and making history as the first black model since Naomi to strut for Prada, Jourdan is a bona-fide star. Gave birth to son Riley in December 2009.

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Name: Jourdan Dunn

Stepped on the scene: 2007

Most known for: Being a VS model #JourdansGotASecret

Bragging rights: Um… hello; being a part of the BALMAIN-Kendall-Gigi-Naomi-Iman DYNASTY! We love you Jourdan.

Website/contact: Instagram – @officialjdunn  Twitter – @missjourdandunn

Liya KebedeBlack Models

Liya Kebede, who was born in Ethiopia, got her break in the fashion industry when Tom Ford chose her in the 2000 Gucci Fall/Winter show. After this, she proceeded in establishing a name for herself as a permanent runway figure on the Milan, Paris, London, and New York circuit. She garnered extreme popularity that she was chosen as the cover of the May 2002 edition of Paris Vogue. She is also the first black model for Estee Lauder.

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Name: Liya Kebede

Stepped on the scene: 2004 in an Escada campaign – Oh yes, bubblegum pink fringe dresses were in.

Most known for: Being a triple threat: model, actress and advocate. #blacklivesmatter

Bragging rights: Being a Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health for the World Health Organization. Madonna eat your heart out!

Website/Contact:   Instagram – @liyakbede
Twitter – @liyakebede 

Chanel ImanBlack Models

Chanel Iman Robinson, known commonly today as simply Chanel Iman, is the youngest and most successful African-American High Fashion Model of her time. The Victoria’s Secret “Angel” is well-known for having positive energy and endless legs that have walked countless runways around the world.

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Name: Chanel Iman

Stepped on the scene: 2006

Most known for: Having the name of a famous brand and model #blessed

Bragging rights: Being funny and sexy and a VS Angel.

Website/contact:   Twitter – @chaneliman  
Instagram – @chaneliman


Senior Class – 2016

OG’s (Original Gangsta’s) in the modelling industry are not made, they are born. Graduating top of in their class and most likely to succeed for their bankable ($) looks…

ImanBlack Models

Iman was born on July 25, 1955, in Mogadishu, Somalia. A student at the University of Nairobi, she was discovered by photographer Peter Beard. Through the 1970s and 1980s, Iman was a favourite model in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent devoted the “African Queen” collection to her. Since retiring from modelling, Iman has done charity work in Somalia, started a cosmetics line and married rocker David Bowie.

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Name: Iman

Stepped on the scene: A lady never reveals her age

Most known for: Her striking features #rise

Bragging rights: Being married to the one and only David FREAKING Bowie.

Rest In Fashionable and Musical Peace David Bowie x

Website/contact:  Instagram – @the_real_iman

Naomi CampbellBlack models

Supermodel Naomi Campbell was born in London on May 22, 1970. She began modelling at age 15, becoming the first black woman on the cover of French Vogue at 18, and the first black model on the cover of Time. On a few occasions, Campbell’s hot temper got her in trouble with the law. In addition to modelling, Campbell launched a singing career and a perfume.

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Name: Naomi Campbell

Stepped on the scene: 1988

Most known for: Throwing a mobile at her assistant #onhold

Bragging rights: Being herself and NEVER compromising for the business

Website/contact:   Instagram – @iamnaomicampbell
Twitter – @naomicampbell

Tyra BanksBlack Models

While Tyra Banks is known for her personality, there is no denying the fact that she has achieved a lot as a black supermodel. If you watched the series America’s Next Top Model, then you know the history of her career. Before she entered the world of commercial modelling, she was a high fashion model first. Since then, she was featured on numerous magazine covers. Tyra Banks is also the first black model to be featured as a cover on the Victoria’s Secret catalogue, on Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, and on GQ.

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Name: Tyra Banks

Stepped on the scene: 1989

Most known for: Coining the phrase: “You are not America’s Next Top Model.” #winning

Bragging rights: First black model on Sports Illustrated and GQ cover + her T-Zone community

Website/contact:  Instagram – @tyrabeauty  Youtube – tyrabanks
twitter – @tyrabeauty

Tyson BeckfordBlack Models

Born in New York, Tyson lived in Jamaica until the age of seven and now makes his home in New York. When he is not modelling or acting, Tyson is busy developing his MotorSports interests, which has led him to become a licensed driving member of Supertuners and host of his own auto show.

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Name: Tyson Beckford

Stepped on the scene: 1992

Most known for: Being in Toni Braxton’s ‘Unbreak My Heart’ video clip #relationshipgoals

Bragging rights: Being in a serious motorcycle accident in the 90s (that scarred his face) and bouncing back even more sexier than before. Savage.

Website/contact:     Instagram – @tysonbeckford
twitter – TysonCBeckford


“It’s not who does it first, it’s who does it best.”