Anok Yai – First Black Model to Open Prada’s Runway Since 1997

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What would it take for a black model to open a major fashion brand’s runway show? Something special!



Anok Yai First Black Model to Open Pradas Runway Since 1997


What would it take for a black model to open a major fashion brand’s runway show? Something special!

Back in 1997, Naomi Campbell took the stage to open the runway for Italian fashion giants Prada. Since then, no other black model had opened the Prada runway. Until now! 20 years after, Anok Yai took to the stage as the first black model to open the Prada runway since Naomi Campbell.

Anok Yai had only been scouted a few months earlier at her college homecoming party where she was set on a path to modelling stardom after her photos were released on Instagram. An aspiring model, the 19 year old black beauty only discovered that she was the opening act for the Italian fashion house about an hour before she graced the catwalk.

A clearly surprised Anok Yai told Vogue, “It was an honor and I’m proud that I was the one chosen to open, but this is bigger than me.” But her surprise could hardly be felt or seen in the graceful elegance with which she walked the runway, exuding a confidence that belied her anxiety.

Understanding the importance and significance of her position, especially as a black model, Anok Yai went on to say, “Me opening for one of the top fashion houses is a statement to the world — especially for black women — that their beauty is something that deserves to be celebrated.”

Becoming a Prada Exclusive in your very first year of modelling, as your very first fashion job, is something that Yai could hardly dream of. As an exclusive, she would have to walk for only Prada through this fashion season, taking up runway shows and campaigns for the brand. It’s exciting, but it also comes with a lot of pressure.

On how she dealt with the pressure of being the opening model for the fashion house at the Milan Fashion Week, Yai says, “I was pretty anxious before walking but the second I got on the catwalk all the nerves went away.” And she isn’t letting up either, “I will remember the experience of opening the show as my breakthrough moment,” she said.

Born to Sudanese parents in Egypt, Yai was raised in the US, and has since been contracted by Next Models. While she is obviously “excited about where this will take her,” the stunning rise of this 19 year old natural black model is one to inspire the many black models out there.

Even as we look forward to seeing more of Yai’s graceful elegance on the runway, we can’t help but recognize the history she’s made and how well she continues to represent all the black girls with big fashion dreams.



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