Meet Adut Akech, the South Sudanese refugee-turned-model of the year

Adut Akech wins the 'Model of the Year' Award during The Fashion Awards 2019 held at Royal Albert Hall on December 02, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Tim Whitby/BFC/Getty Images)
  • Akech was only seven years old when she became a refugee and was forced to leave with her parents for Australia.
  • She began her modelling career at 16 years old and quickly stood out as a model to watch out for.
  • Now 19 years old, she has been named as the ‘ Model of the Year’ at the 2019 British Fashion Awards.

On Monday, December 2, 2019, Adut Akech Bior beat out the likes of Adwoa Aboah, Kaia Gerber and Winnie Harlow to collect the prize for ‘Model of the Year’ at the 2019 British Fashion Awards.

She called for more diversity and representation in the fashion world as she received her award at the prestigious ceremony.

“It is important for all of us to remember that someone like me winning this award is a rarity,” she said. “This is for the young women and men who found representation and validation in my work. I want them to never be afraid of dreaming big like I once did.”


Bior added, “To them, I say this: Whatever it is you want to do, whether it’s modelling or acting or medicine, you should never doubt yourself. Don’t let the world convince you that it is not possible.”

Her acceptance speech received a standing ovation in the room filled with several artists, models, designers and fashion icons like Naomi Campbell, Tracee Ellis Ross, British Vogue’s Editor-In-ChIef Edward Enninful, Anna Wintour and Rihanna.

  • Not her first award

Bior made her runway debut at a local fashion show, put together by her aunt. She went on to appear at the Melbourne Fashion Week, Saint Laurent’s S/S 17 show before signing to Elite Model Management in Paris. She has since has done shows for other big names.

The young model gained more recognition after Karl Lagerfeld cast her as a Chanel bride to close out the French fashion house’s fall 2018 haute couture show in Paris. This made her the second black model to have this honour.

She was also featured in Edward Enninful’s legendary Pirelli calendar shot by Tim Walker.

By 2018, Bior had secured the cover of Vogue’s December issue. She also got voted as the ‘Model of the Year’ in’s 2018 awards.


Since then, she has appeared on five Vogue covers in one month, starred in her first fragrance campaign for Valentino, and was named on the recently released Time 100 Next list.

She has also had a significant impact by constantly speaking out against the racial diversity in the fashion industry.


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