Its no secret that the Annual Victoria Secret Fashion Show is one of the most highly anticipated Runway Shows in the world. Every year, millions of eager viewers and fashion-forward enthusiast like myself, tune in eagerly to watch the Premium Women's Lingerie Fashion House put on the best show yet. From having the hottest Supermodels in the world walk their runways in the most exquisite, luxurious and skimpy lingeries while sporting their infamous "WINGS", to having Mega-superstars, A-listers and the who's who of the Fashion Community on the scene, not to leave out the tremendous performances from the hottest acts in music who serenade the guests and models on the runway. It is really a fantasy they sell, one i love and i look forward to every year. The 2016 show is few hours away and i cant wait to see all my favorite girls in their glorious wings fiercely strut the runway. But first, in the spirit of being an African sister, i'm counting down all the fabulous African supermodels that have successfully conquered the modelling world and the VS Runway from past to present. Its a Black Magic girl blast from the past so enjoy! More after the cut.
10. OLUCHI ORLANDI NIGERIA (2000-2007)
Nigerian Veteran Supermodel Oluchi Orlandi (then Oluchi Onweagba) was the first African model to walk the Victoria Secret Runway back in 2000. After emerging as the winner of one of the biggest model scout competitions in Africa, "The Nokia Face of Africa" back 1998, the young and beautiful African model immediately went on to conquer the international scenes. She blended in beautifully and yet stood out as an ebony beauty on the runways with the likes of Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell, Giselle Bundchen and Heidi Klum (her fellow Victoria secret models). Since her first appearance in 2000, she went on to walk more 7 more shows until she finally gave up her wings in 2007.
These days, Oluchi is happily married to her french designer husband Luca Orlandi and is blessed with a son. She launched her own modelling agency in South Africa OModel Africa. She didnt stop at being just an entrepreneur, but went on to produce and host the immensely successful reality television show "Africa’s Next Top Model" (ANTM). The ANTM., is about to commence its second season and its geared at granting opportunities to African women who compete for a chance to start their career in the modeling industry. Great to see she is working on taking African modelling to the next level.
Sudanese Supermodel Alek Wek graced the Victoria Secret Runway in 2001. She made her grande debut walking the runway with her long braids, not something you get to see these days on any runway let alone the Victoria Secret Runway. Since her first appearance on the VS runway in 2001, she went on to have a successful career and grace several prominent shows. This year, the veteran model reappeared on the Balenciaga SS17 Runway still looking as ageless as ever. Alek might be slowly hanging her boots but these days, she is focusing designing her fancy bags and doing lots of charity.
8. LIYA KEDEBE (ETHIOPIA) 2002-2003
Ethiopian model Liya Kedebe is one of the most renowned models in Africa and one of the most revered black models in the World. She made her first appearance on the Victoria Secret Fashion Runway in 2002, walking along side supermodels like Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, Gisele Bundchen, Alessandra Ambrosio and fellow African model Oluchi Orlandi. After her first appearance, she returned back even more fiercer to the VS runway the following year.
Other than being named Forbes Magazines 11th highest paid model in the world in the year 2011 and also named among the 5 most powerful Women changing the world of maternal health and her recurring Vogue Magazine features (3 times), she was also named Role Model of the Year in 2013 by Glamour Magazine. In the last two decades, i'd say she has had a more than successful career on and off the runway. These days, she is too busy being a maternal health Ambassador and advocate (how cool is that), a designer, a philanthropist, a wife and mother to two kids... Lets just say that with this Supermodel, there is more to life than just being a pretty African queen with hot legs.
Kenyan Supermodel and Beauty Queen Model Ajuma Nasenyana joined the Victoria Secret Family in 2006. She walked her first VS Runway alongside Veterans like Tyra Banks, Gisele Bundchen and Nigeria's very own Oluchi Orlandi. Staying true to her natural self, Ajuma Nasenyana made headlines by walking the show with her shaved head, can you beat that?! #Africanqueen. Ajuma didnt return to the VS Runway but went on to have an amazing career.
Rewind back to life before the VS Fashion Show... Long before she started strutting international runways, the native of Lodwar; the largest town in Turkana, Kenya, got her first big break when she emerged as beauty queen in the Miss Tourism Kenya competition in 2003 where she was crowned Miss Nairobi. She caught the eyes of prominent international scouts and agencies and shortly after she landed in NYC where she competed for the Ford's Supermodel of the World. From there, Ajuma's story is really is one of success and stardom. She walked runways alongside big names like Naomi Campbell, signed to agencies across Europe and the rest of the world and was named AFI African Fashion International's, Africa Fashion Week Model of the Year 2012.
These days, the supermodel is too busy being a new mum to her adorable little son with she just birthed this month. How cool is that! Other than being a mom, she concerns herself with charity work and works with the the Malaria no more Organisation. Did i forget to mention she launched a cosmetic line to inspire dark-skinned ladies like herself.
I couldn't resist showing her cute son at 2 weeks old. #toocuteforwords
6. CANDICE SWANEPOEL (SOUTH AFRICA) 2007-2015
In my own words, South African beauty Candice Swanepoel is still the biggest Supermodel to make it out of Africa at the moment. She is everywhere you look, well until 10 months ago. Candice is best known for walking the Victoria Secret Runway as one of the brands highly decorated "Angels"... yeap! she does not just walk the event, she is actually an angel! Candice stormed the VS Runway back in 2007 and since then, its been a full runway domination for the South African Native.
Born 20 October 1988 in South Africa, Candice Susan Swanepoel hails from South Africa, where she was raised on her family's dairy and beef farm. At the tender age of 15, while attending The St. Anne's boarding school, Candice was scouted in a Durban flea market in South Africa and was fastly catapulted into the international scenes. She started her modelling career shuffling all across Europe; from Paris to Italy to Milan... Since her very humble beginnings, Candice has gone unto conquering the international scenes and to becoming a major success story not to mention she is one of the most watched models in the world. As a Victoria Secret Angel, Candie has worked with the best and most revered talents in the world of Fashion at large, She has also graced the front pages of numerous magazines and editorials; which include not one or two but over eight (8) Vogue Magazine covers across the globe. In a nutshell, i say Candice is the real deal.
Ranked severally by Forbes Magazine as one of the Top Earning models in the industry. Candice is happily married to her Brazilian model husband Hermann Nicoli. The happy couple just welcomed their first child, a cute little boy named Anacã. Candice gave birth to her adorable little boy just months ago in October, so yes, sadly she has to sit the 2016 Victoria Secret Show. Candice and her glorious presence have strut the VS runways for so long, its hard not to imagine her on the runway. She promises to be back and walking the walk in 2017 and i'm sure the runway certainly cant wait to have its angels back.
5. BEHATI PRINSLOO (NAMABIA) 2007 -2015
Namibian supermodel Behati Prinsloo aka Mrs. Adam Levine is one Hollywood's and the Fashion industry's favorite. Born and bred in Namabia, Behati lived her early life in Africa raised by her Church minister father and her Namabian mother who ran a Bread and Breakfast. Behati was discovered on a trip to South Africa when she was scouted by a Sarah Doukas of the Storm model management. Following her discovery, she moved to the international scenes where she went on to have a more than successful career. She made her Victoria Secret debut in 2007 walking the runway along side fellow African supermodel Candice Swanepoel and many others. In 2009, Behati became an official Victoria Secret angel and since then its been strutting her way to top with no stopping.
From being a personified angel, to walking major designer runways to appearing on TV Shows like Hawaii five-o where she guest starred along side fellow models Jacquelyn Jablonski and Jasmine Tookes to appearing in her superstar husbands videos...Oh She is married to Rockstar Adam Levine, The Maroon 5 lead singer!!! Just like her fellow African model Candice, Behati just had a cute baby girl earlier in September with hubby Adam. So, she also will b e sitting out this years show in Paris and making a splashing return in 2017. Personally, i think she looks runway ready already, did you see her walk the carpet at the just concluded American Music Awards, she looked pretty snapped-back to me, but i guess mommy duties come first.
4. SHARAN DINIZ (ANGOLA) 2012
Angolan supermodel Sharan Diniz made her official debut on the Victoria Secret Runway in 2012, long before that, Sharan has already being working with the famous brand, posing for editorials and campaigns. Born is Luanda, Angola, Sharan won several modelling competitions before she finally moved on to the international scenes, leaving Angola to study at the University of Leeds, England.
Besides being a Victoria Secret model, Sharam has a pretty successful career ahead of her. From walking prestigious runways to constantly being featured on Magazines and editorials/campaigns, i say this African angel is still heading for the sky.
3. IMAAN HAMMAM (EGYPTIAN) 2014
Egyptian/Moroccan Imaan Hamman is one of my favorites so i cant resist talking about her appearance on the VS Runway. The beautiful African-mix walked the VS Runway in 2014 along side her fellow African model Maria. Imaan made her way into the world of Fashion and modelling after being discovered in 2010 in Amsterdam's Central Station by an agent from CODE Management. In 2013 she was given the special honor to open the Givenchy show as an exclusive. Shortly after she appeared in consecutive issues of American, Italian and French Vogue. The "Anna Wintour" is a supporter of Hammam and mentioned the model in her editor's letter the first time she appeared in the magazine. What a recommendation!
Imaan is having a pretty successful career so far, between walking this year's Fashion Week for big designers like Mugler, Lanvin, Nina Ricci, Isabel Marant and and posing for Top editorials like her recent feature in Vogue US, i say the model is just getting started. Did i forget to mention that in April 2016, Hammam won Couturesque Magazine's Model of the Year competition, receiving more than half of the public vote against heavyweights Lucky Blue Smith and Bella Hadid. I cant wait for her to walk the VS Runway soon again.
2. LEILA NDA (REPUBLIC OF BURUNDI) 2015
If you never heard of the Republic of Burundi, well thank me because now you have. It is a french speaking country in East Africa, bordered by Tanzania, Rwanda and Congo. Birth place of this Beauty Queen and Scholar Leila Nda. The 5ft tall model brought her beauty and brains to the Victoria Secret Runways in 2015, walking along side fellow African model Maria Borges and so many other International models. Leila relocated with her family to Brussels where she studied law (yeap she has that much smart in her) until she finally made a detour into the world of modelling .
Leila's solidified her place in the world of modelling after walking the Victoria Secret Show in 2015, but before then, she was pretty busy globe-trotting and walking numerous top-notch designer runways at Fashion Week across the globe. Posing for Vogue Magazine and other heavy-weight editorials. Ranked by Models.com on the Hot List and as one of the biggest models of 2015. The future is definitely looking bright for this beauty and brains. Did i forget to add she speaks 7 languages, talk about being Versatile and ready for the world.
1. MARIA BORGES (ANGOLA) 2013-2015
Angola's Maria Borges is the newest African "it girl" to hit the Victoria Secret runway. The model of the moment, Maria is still being celerated in history for being the first African model and black model to rock a natural fro on the Victoria Secret runway in 2015. Maria made her official VS debut back in 2013 and has walked every consecutive show since then.
When she is not killing it on the VS Runway, Maria is too busy walking the runways of some of the biggest names in Fashion or rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest names in fashion. God-daughter to the one and only Ricardo Tisci, what more can a girl ask for. Maria belong to this new class of social media supermodels who every one is obsessed with and following. Packing up over 250k followers on Instagram, the social butterfly doesn't fail to proudly rep Africa. She is making her return to the VS Runway today and i cant wait to see her walk the walk.
Maria Borges might be the reigning African queen on the Victoria Secret Runway but this year she has company. Tanzanian beauty Herieth Paul officially makes her debut today walking the Victoria Secret Fashion Show for the the first time. Born on December 14, 1995 the Tanzania model had an early start in the world of fashion and for a first timer, i tell you she is doing really Amazing. Discovered at an open casting call in 2009, Herieth hit the fashion scenes making her fashion debut on the Cristain Siriano Spring Runways in 2010 and since then its been all the big Fashion Shows and Runways across the globe.
So you might be wondering what she did to land on the almighty VS Runway at such a young age?! Well, lets just say the model had a pretty big 2016, so big the ladies at the VS needed to have her. From being on Vogue amongst other top-notch Magazines and Editorials to walking in over 8 top shows at the 2017 Fashion Week and posing for numerous look books. Herieth has a big career ahead of her and we can only hope for the best but the young model.
Since arriving Paris for the show, the young model has been excited, we can only imagine...She posted this picture of her in her VS show saying "Behind the scenes!!! So excited to walk that runway"
So there you have it, all the best of the best of Africa's biggest and finest ladies to hit the Runway at the prestigious Victoria Secret Fashion Show, from Past to Present. I'm only so inspired by their hard-work and commitment thus far, and all they have done to promote and help in the growth of Fashion at home and abroad. The Victoria Secret Fashion Show is minutes away so good luck to the ladies and dont forget to come back for all the excitement and looks from the runway and after party. In the main time...