Valentino resort 2019 advertising campaign featuring Adut Akech

Who is Adut Akech? 19-year-old beats Gigi Hadid to win coveted Model of the Year title

The model made her professional runway debut for Yves Saint Laurent in 2016

Sabrina Barr@fabsab5
Friday 04 January 2019 15:01
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In December 2018, Adut Akech beat models including Ashley Graham, Adwoa Aboah and Gigi Hadid to be named Model of the Year by members of the fashion industry.

The Model of the Year Industry Awards, which are held by fashion news site Models.com, involved more than 250 people from the world of fashion, including casting directors, photographers and stylists, casting their vote in categories such as best male and female models of the year, best social media stars and most impressive comeback.

Akech has made a huge impact on the modelling industry since making her professional runway debut for Yves Saint Laurent in the designer’s spring/summer 2017 show.

The 19-year-old has since taken part in campaigns for fashion houses including Alexander McQueen, Givenchy and Burberry, in addition to shooting editorials for various publications such as Vogue and I-D Magazine.

So how did Akech make her mark as one of the leading models in the fashion industry? Here’s everything you need to know:

How did Akech’s modelling career begin?

Akech was born one of five siblings in South Sudan in 1999.

She was later raised in Kakuma, Kenya before moving to Adelaide, Australia with her mother at the age of seven.

When she was 12, her aunt, who owned a boutique in Adelaide, asked her to walk in a fashion show for her.

Akech immediately felt at home on the catwalk, as she explained to Vogue.

“The minute I stepped onto the runway I was like, ‘This is it, this is what I wanna do’,” she said.

In 2016, she was signed by an agent from model management company Elite, who spotted her at Australia Fashion Week.

That same year she made her professional runway debut, walking exclusively for Yves Saint Laurent at Paris Fashion Week.

Her career has since gone from strength to strength, with campaigns for Valentino, Prada and Tory Burch under her belt, among many others.

Akech appeared on the cover of Vogue Australia’s 2018 December issue, alongside her baby sister Akuol.

“Ever since I started modelling back in Australia gracing the cover of Australian Vogue has been a dream of mine,” she wrote on Instagram.

“I am beyond blessed and grateful that my dream has finally come true.”

After discovering that she’d been named Model of the Year by members of the fashion industry, Akech expressed her gratitude to everyone who she’s worked with since embarking on her modelling career.

“I honestly did not see this coming my way,” she wrote on Instagram.

“Thank you from my heart to every designer, photographer, stylist, makeup artist, hairstylist, casting director and many more who voted me for for this title it’s means so much to me.”

How has becoming a professional model affected her?

Since being signed as a model when she was a teenager, Akech has amassed a huge online following, garnering more than a quarter of a million followers on Instagram.

On 1 January 2019, she shared a post on Instagram explaining how acclimatising to life in the fashion industry has impacted her mental health.

“I’ve suffered from really bad depression and anxiety for a while now and I still do but I’m learning to handle it better now but it’s a daily struggle and not every day is a ‘good’ day,” she wrote.

“I would wake up every morning crying but put the biggest smile on my face and tried my hardest to push through the day pretending I was fine then I’d come home and cry some more and go to sleep.

“This became my routine for the majority of 2018 and in all honesty it was so draining mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I don’t know how I’m still here today but I’m so grateful I am.”

She also thanked her followers for all the support they’ve given her, and told them that if they’re experiencing issues that are similar to her own, that they shouldn’t feel as though they’re “alone in this battle”.

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In 2018 Akech was photographed by Tim Walker for the annual Pirelli Calendar alongside Lupita Nyong’o and Naomi Campbell, an experience that she described as being “too good to be true”.

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