Model Anok Yai didn’t even like the picture posted on Instagram, taken by a professional photographer who captured Yai, at Howard University’s homecoming week in October 2017. Eighteen months later Yai not only covers the May 2019 issue of Vogue Italia, but she is lensed by one of fashion’s most provocative, talented, transgressive photographers Steven Klein. Amazing!
Patti Wilson styles Anok Yai for ‘Best In Show’, a classic Steven Klein editorial. “Great fashion photography not only understands the clothes and makes them look beautiful and of-the-moment,” says Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, “but it also brings a twist that catches the eye and captures the imagination. In the case of Steven Klein, you give him a dress, and he will give you a girl in a dress with a robot in a garden. It’s clever, conceptual, and ultimately lyrical.” .
Being Anna Wintour, the editrix, doesn’t mention that the robot more likely than not is engaging in a sexually subversive innuendo, if not the disruptive act itself.
Four months after her Howard University homecoming discovery, Anok became the seond black model to open a Prada show. The first was Naomi Campbell.
The stunned Yai told British Vogue:
"It was an honor and I'm proud that I was the one chosen to open, but this is bigger than me. Me opening for one of the top fashion houses is a statement to the world - especially for black women - that their beauty is something that deserves to be celebrated."
Anok Yai is Egyptian-born and of South Sudanese descent. At a time when America was a friendlier place for refugees, Yai’s family moved to Manchester, New Hampshire when she was two years old.
In early August 2018, in another extraordinary accomplishment, Anok Yai joined Kendall Jenner, Karlie Kloss, and Joan Smalls as ab Estée Lauder global spokesmodel.
Anok Yai is not the only model of South Sudanese heritage, who is riding a fashion model rocket ship. They are a sorority at this point, a constellation of #blackgirlmagic that will hopefully change the face of fashion once and for all.