A breakout modelling star of 2019, Ugbad Abdi made her debut in Paris at Valentino’s Spring/Summer 2019 show and has since walked for the likes of Burberry, Off-White and Victoria Beckham . She joins the generation of models championing racial diversity on the runway and was the first model to wear a headscarf during shows for Fendi and Lanvin.
Born in Somalia during the civil war, Abdi grew up in a Kenyan refugee camp before moving with her family to Des Moines in Iowa at the age of 9. Two months after graduating from high school, modelling scout Lacey Hevern from Next Models discovered the then 18-year-old on Instagram and she was flown to Paris for Pierpaolo Piccioli ’s Valentino Spring/Summer 2019 show, walking ahead of her modelling idol, Naomi Campbell .
Since, Abdi has walked for the likes of Burberry, Lanvin, Simone Rocha , Off-White and in Karl Lagerfeld ’s last Fendi show, as well as opening Marc Jacobs ’ Autumn/Winter 2019 show. She has graced the front covers of i-D and The Sunday Times Style; featured in Vogue Italia, American Vogue, CR Fashion Book and Dazed; been shot by the likes of Katie Grand and Sean and Seng; and was named by Vogue as a breakout star of 2019. Abdi is represented by Next Models and Evolve Models.
Abdi practices the Muslim faith and chooses to wear hijab on the runway, joining the generation of models including Halima Aden , Shahira Yusuf and Kadija Diawara championing the diversity conversation on the runway. She is vocal about her participation in and experience of the Muslim fasting practice, Ramadan.