By Jasmine Wing | @jasminenatashaw
Anok Yai was the first black model to open a runway show for Prada since Naomi Campbell did so more than two decades ago in 1997.
The Egyptian-born American fashion model of Sudanese descent, marked a historical moment when she opened for Prada during Milan Fashion Week.
The socio-politically conscious designer, Muccia Prada was the first brand to reach out to the 20-year-old Sudanese model after photos of her at Howard University’s homecoming in D.C. went viral last year. As well as catching the fashion world’s attention Yai was majoring in biochemistry at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire.
But why did it take twenty years and forty seasons for her to cast a black model to open her womenswear show?
In the past, the brand has come under scrutiny for its lack of diversity both on the runway and in its campaigns. In 2013 Malaika Firth, a Kenyan-born, U.K. raised, biracial model featured in Prada fall’s campaign. This was the first time since the fall of 1994, that there was a black face of Prada. Similarly to Yai, Firth’s appearance was dubbed ‘the new Naomi Campbell’. Naomi Campell the black British supermodel has dominated the conversation of fashion & diversity for many years.
Hopefully, Anok opening the Fall 2018 show is an indication the Italian fashion house is headed in the right direction when it comes to diversity.
Yes, admittedly this is undeniably a step in the right direction but this is not the end of the runway for diversity in the fashion industry.