From a Refugee Camp to Vogue : All You Need to Know about Adut Akech

Runway modeling is not seeing as a sustainable career stream in Africa but many African models seem to be changing this narrative by taking over international magazine covers, runways and campaigns and no one has been picked for that coveted slot more than Adut Akech. 

The 20-year-old South Sudanese-Australian model has been winning from the last decade and we are inspired. From winning the “Model of the Year” award at the end of 2018, appearing on no fewer than five different editions of Vogue in 2019 to working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

All this at only 20 – she is without a doubt at the top of her career and The AFI Insider brings you some quick facts you need to know about Adut.


Born in 1999 on Christmas Day during a journey to the Kukuma refugee camp in Kenya, Adut Akech spent most of her upbringing as a refugee before her family emigrated to Adelaide, Australia where she lived out her life as a student and where she joined her first modeling agency.

Although she spent most of her life in Australia, she is still in touch with her African roots and considers herself a Sudanese-Australian model. “I don’t remember much about my earliest years, but certain vivid memories linger: the scorching yet still comforting heat of the African sun, the rich brown colour of Kenyan land, adults from backgrounds different than mine helping others with daily needs, and most of all, the carefree laughter and pitter-pattering footsteps from children like myself, never ceasing as we danced in our own little universes.

That was life at Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, where I spent the majority of my first eight years on earth.” Adut tells CNN America.


At the beginning of her modeling career, Adut debuted her runway modeling career in a local fashion show put together by her aunt. From that moment she never looked back, she went on to doing Melbourne Fashion Week numerous times until she booked an international casting for a Saint Laurent show in Paris and took a flight to Paris a day after, making her major Fashion Week debut at Saint Laurent’s SS17 show and signing to Elite Model Management in Paris.

She mentions that her career as a fashion supermodel has redefined her life and that she has made family in other fellow industry stakeholders including Naomi Campbell, “The fashion industry is a huge, creative family who have been supportive beyond my imagination. It’s a community-driven by artistry and synergy with one another; every photo, every film, every collection is the result of different relationships bound together and inspiring each other.”

  1. INTERNATIONAL SHOWS AND CAMPAIGNSSince then Adut has opened and closed shows for Saint Laurent and four campaigns for them, a campaign and two shows for Valentino, one campaign for Zara, and one campaign for Moschino, as well as walking for Alexander McQueenGivenchyKenzoPradaLanvinLoeweMiu MiuAcne StudiosTom FordTory BurchJason WuBottega VenetaAnna SuiCalvin KleinJW AndersonSimone RochaBurberry, Off-white, Ellery, Jil Sander Giambattista ValliProenza Schouler and Versace.

    She has easily received big honours from publications, fashion media goons and the duchess of sussex early in her career.

    In 2018, the British Fashion Council awarded Adut the “Model of the Year” title, making her the youngest “model of the year” to date. The council defines the “Model of the Year” title as an award that “recognizes the global impact of a model, irrespective of gender, who over the last 12 months has dominated the industry. With an influence that transcends the catwalk, the Model of The Year has made an outstanding contribution to the industry, garnering numerous editorial and advertising campaigns throughout the year.” And Adut sure has done that.

    In the past year alone Adut also became the only model to dominate international vogue covers. She graced the covers of 5 different Vogue Magazine editions where she gained positive critics from renowned Vogue editors Anna Wintour, Naomi Campbell and Edward Enninful.

    She also became one of fifteen women selected to appear on the cover of the September 2019 issue of British Vogue, by guest editor Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.

    Outside of her career in fashion and modelling, Adut has recently begun working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in order to promote causes that support refugees around the world. She hopes that her own story can serve as inspiration for many to become more invested in alleviating the plights of refugees.


Outside of her career in fashion and modeling, Adut has recently begun working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in order to promote causes that support refugees around the world. She hopes that her own story can serve as inspiration for many to become more invested in alleviating the plights of refugees.

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