Style Profile: Halima Aden

19-year-old Somali-American Halima Aden, signed by IMG models, made fashion week history by being the first Hijab-wearing model to ever walk the runway. She was born at a refugee camp in Kenya and made headlines when she participated in Miss Minnesota US, and wore a Hijab in the swimsuit segment.

She made her first appearance in Season 5 of Kanye West’s Yeezy Show which was held in NY’s Pier 59 Studios on the river in Chelsea. The show started off with a holographic presentation of the models rotating 360 degrees in the dark.

Just as the audience thought the show had come to its end, the models emerged from the shadows to display West’s latest collection in classic catwalk fashion. The most notable change feature in this season’s collection was the inclusion of Aden, a Hijab- wearing model, who made her runway debut in a giant fur coat.

“Halima is breaking boundaries of beauty and perception by being herself”

West’s Yeezy Shows are infamous: fainting models, late arrivals and alleged model exploitation, but to this day the casting has always been symbolic. If anything, this historical fashion moment brings worldwide attention to the many barriers that still need to be broken down in the industry.

Per Carine Roitfeld’s casting, Aden was also featured as the cover star in the latest March issue of CR Fashion Book, photographed by Mario Sorrenti. “Halima is breaking boundaries of beauty and perception by being herself,” Roitfeld wrote in a preview for the new issue, “I find this incredibly inspiring, and I know she will be an icon. In CR Issue 10, she represents the diversity of Paris, where a mix of global cultures converge.”

She dons Luis Vuitton for the magazine’s tenth issue and is interviewed by none other than fellow Somali and supermodel, Iman, who is one of Aden’s inspirations. Answering Iman’s question on the encouragement she’s received as a Hijabi model, Aden responded: “To me, it represents freedom of choice. A lot of people have the misconception that, as a Muslim woman, I am somehow against women wearing bikinis. No, I want women to feel comfortable and confident in whatever they wear.”

Aden really is a pioneer in today’s fashion industry and many are excited to follow her next career moves. She not only stands as a role model for Hijab-clad women everywhere, but also for the many young refugees who regrettably have faced backlash in today’s media. Her refreshing debut in NYFW can only open up many unique marketing and diversity inclusion opportunities, for example, the introduction of Hijabi fashion in the Western world’s fashion economy.

What will Halima’s next steps be? The world surely waits in eager anticipation for her next appearance.

Paasha Ahmed

Image Credit: Janko Ferlic via Unsplash

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