OXFORDSHIRE, United Kingdom — South Sudanese model Adut Akech is one of the industry’s fast-rising stars. She has appeared on the covers of a plethora of international magazines and walked for some of the biggest names in luxury, from Chanel to Dior to Prada. In fact, she arrived onstage at VOICES, BoF’s annual gathering for big thinkers, fresh off a plane from Tokyo where she closed Valentino’s pre-fall 2019 extravaganza alongside Kaia Gerber in a couture-like frothy red gown.
But Akech grew up worlds away from the glitz and glamour of couture gowns and Vogue cover shoots. The 5'10" model was born while her family was fleeing from war in South Sudan, and spent her early years in a Kenyan refugee camp.
“I will always be a refugee, because that’s who I am,” she told BoF's Tim Blanks. “No amount of money or my status or how famous or whatever the case is ... I’m always going to be a refugee and I’m proud of who I am.”
When Akech was just six years old, she and her family relocated to Australia. She was excited to attend school, something she wasn’t able to do while living in Kenya.
Her first experience modelling was taking part in a small-scale fashion show put on by her aunt, a designer. That was the moment she knew she wanted to model professionally.
“I just fell in love instantly," she said. "When I’m on the runway, I’m a whole different person."
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