It’s safe to say that London Fashion Week brought about a frenzy of live updates on my Instagram feed – probably because I follow a mixture of brilliant designers like Ashish as well as remaining a loyal ELLE girl, who managed to snap some great shots over the course of the week. I streamed so many of the shows live (when I should have been doing seminar reading), in particular loving the ‘behind the scenes’ streams – for Topshop, I watched an interview with Alexa Chung who proudly declared how vibrant and diverse London Fashion Week was for her. It made me think about the beautiful women who represent Britain on the runways and made me realise – we are KILLING it. I’m straight (not that it matters), but boy can I appreciate these incredible ladies. Here are four of my favourites at the moment.
1) Jourdan Dunn
Age: 24Hometown: Greenford, West LondonScouted: in Hammersmith, PRIMARK, at the tiny age of 15 (I don’t know about any of you, but 15 wasn’t such a hot year for me…) by Storm Model Management (the agency that spotted Her Majesty Kate Moss).Notable achievements so far: In 2008, Jourdan was the first black model to walk for Prada in over a decade. A DECADE. She’s spoken out about the racism in the fashion world, telling anecdotes of being turned away from various castings because the designers “didn’t want any more black girls”. One make-up artist even refused to do her make-up, stating she wouldn’t do make-up on black girls. These kind of experiences clearly fuelled Jourdan to work at her trade, leading her to score campaigns for the likes of Maybelline, Burberry (check out the stunning photos with Naomi Campbell), Balmain, Victoria’s Secret, and you may have seen her as the face of Rihanna’s collection for River Island.
Outside the fashion world: Aside from modelling, she also has her own YouTube cookery videos called ‘Well Dunn’, where her down-to-earth personality combined with her delicious recipes make you want to be her best friend immediately. The videos also feature guest stars such as models Chanel Iman and Joan Smalls – you might recognise this trio line-up from Beyoncé’s video ‘Yoncé’. If you somehow haven’t seen it before, I urge you to watch it now and appreciate all of their outfits. Oh, and she has a 6 year old son. In a nutshell: she’s superwoman.
2) Grace Booth
Age: 17Hometown: Bromley, KentScouted: on an escalator in a shopping centre.Notable achievements so far: Quite different to Jourdan, Grace Booth is just in the beginnings of what (I think) is going to be a long career. Her long, willowy hair makes me wonder why I chopped all mine off a couple of months ago. For her first ever job, she was the face of Agyness Deyn’s Dr. Martens AW2013 line, chosen by Agyness herself. Agyness noted how quirky and full of energy Grace comes across, as well as being a tiny bit crazy! She’s also walked for J. W. Anderson, Simone Rocha, Erdem and Pringle of Scotland during London Fashion Week both last year and this year.
Outside the fashion world: As she’s in her last year of studies, Grace is sensibly finishing up with school for the time being. In her spare time, she’s a keen baker – in an interview, when asked about who her idols were, she stated: ‘Is Mary Berry allowed??’ Yes, Grace. Yes she is.
3) Malaika Firth
Age: 20Hometown: Kenyan born but has lived in Barking, East London, since the age of 7.Scouted: Malaika actually went to Premier Model Management as a shy 17 year old after watching and being inspired by Channel 4’s docu-series ‘The Model Agency’. Her mum called the agency to set up a meeting with them and Malaika was signed on the spot (yet another reason why mothers are ALWAYS right).Notable achievements so far: While Jourdan was the first black model to walk for Prada in a decade, Malaika was the first black model to appear in a print ad for a Prada campaign for TWO decades (pictured above). Unbelievable. She’s also walked for Victoria’s Secret, Kenzo and Dolce & Gabbana, as well as featuring in various print campaigns for Burberry, ASOS, i-D magazine and Teen Vogue. Her stand-out features for me are her huge Bambi-like eyes and her beautiful caramel skin; I don’t think I’ve ever seen a model that even vaguely looks like Malaika. And her street style is on POINT.
Outside the fashion world: Vogue has deemed her to be the ‘good girl’ of the fashion world – the girl least likely to roll out of a club at 3am. She’s quite religious and said to be fairly shy in interviews, but she’s definitely not boring. She’s stated she’d love to go into acting and aspires to own a Nando’s black card so that she can get unlimited free chicken wings…basically a girl after my own heart.
4) Neelam Gill
Age: 19Hometown: CoventryScouted: After being scouted by various agencies at the young age of 13 (!!!!), she was signed to Models1 agency at 14 (literally unbelievable) and held off pursuing modelling until she finished her A-Levels, deciding she’d give herself a gap year before university to give modelling a go. Not the average gap year then…Notable achievements so far: I’m not actually sure where to start with this incredible girl. Actually, yes I do. One word: BURBERRY. She was the first Indian model to ever be cast in a Burberry campaign, which is pretty revolutionary. From a personal point of view, when I was younger, I always wondered why the only people featured on any form of media that shared my skin colour were Princess Jasmine and Pocahontas (ish). I’m constantly surrounded by stunning family members and wonder why there aren’t more Indian models around, so hopefully Neelam can inspire others to pursue modelling too. She’s also the first Indian to model for Topshop, too. On top of all that, she’s walked for Kanye West’s Adidas show, as well as gracing the front cover of Elle India.
Outside the fashion world: Another girl after my own, English-degree’d, heart: Neelam appears to love reading and literature. I’ve also read that she loves rappers such as Kanye West and Drake, and that she nearly died with excitement at the Kanye West Adidas after-party where they all performed. Her guilty pleasure is watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians, which I can only condone and salute.