If top model Grace Bol was ‘Born To Stand Out’, her quiet, unassuming persona is not a dead-giveaway, writes Laura Craik for Porter Edit’s October 19, 2018 issue. Helen Broadfoot styles Bol in Gucci, Carolina Herrera, Versace, Galvin, Saint Laurent and more for images by Mehdi Lacoste.
Bol is another of the South Sudanese models dominating fashion headlines. Widely interviewed, we learn that the 5’11” beauty arrived in Kansas City, Mo at age eight, after her family fled the violence of South Sudan to Uganda.
America was astounded over Kansas winters. “The shock of the snow,” she recalls with a smile. “I never saw snow before in my life. I never knew it could get that cold. It took time to adjust – it was not easy. I remember seeing ice on the ground. I touched it and was shocked. I thought it was a powder. I still think snow is beautiful, especially in Central Park.”
Grace Bol is a challenging interview subject due to her circumspect nature. She doesn’t discuss her age, her brothers and sisters — except to say she has ‘a lot’, or her favorite beauty products. Okay, she likes Vaseline. Oh, and she will be walking her second Victoria’s Secret fashion show in a few weeks.
Bol credits Riccardo Tisci with launching her career when they met briefly during the designer’s Givenchy years. It was only a minute or two, but the connection was a strong one.
Grace hasn’t decided yet if she is an activist. Bol noticed some positive changes in her war-torn, young country that gained its independence from Sudan in 2011. She mentions that the last time she visited South Sudan, last Christmas, she noticed some positive changes. “We have our own country now – that’s a first step. It’s still not the best, starting from scratch, but it’s a home for everyone. I just pray that the violence completely stops.”
AOC has a long history of challenging the Sudanese government in Khartoum, and I am DOA there. Sadly, looking now for the latest news out of South Sudan, a new report from UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet details astounding atrocities against women and girls by South Sudan leader Riek Machar and his armed rebels. The details mar this quietly elegant fashion editorial and we will share them elsewhere on AOC. We return to Grace and her thoughts about her own grandmother.
Bol’s face fills with love when she speaks about her grandmother, her favorite person to visit in South Sudan. “She’s such an interesting woman. I love just being next to her, and the memories we have together. There’s so much that I learned from her. She’s very happy. Well, I can’t say ‘very happy’, but very kind. A lot of people say that about her. She’s one of the most well-respected people in our village, because she’s so kind and loving to everyone. She went through so much that, when I look at her, it just amazes me. I guess that’s what inspires me.”