Meet the New Girl: Is Ajak the Next Alek Wek?

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Ajak (IMG) at Marc by Marc Jacobs. Photo: Imaxtree

When 20-year-old Ajak worked the fall 2010 Chloé show in Paris, the Sudanese beauty became the first black model to walk for the label in more than nine seasons. But that level of success didn't just fall in her lap. In spring 2010, she flew under the radar, mostly walking for small New York designers (Brian Reyes, Dennis Basso, Sophie Theallet). Eventually the newcomer snagged a spot in Benetton's spring campaign, lensed by Josh Olins, and that's when casting directors started to view the model in a different light. During her second stab at Fashion Week, she was confirmed at Isaac Mizrahi and Marc by Marc Jacobs, which led to a surprisingly successful run in Paris, walking for Jean Paul Gaultier, Lanvin, Maison Martin Margiela, and Givenchy, among others. At this rate, Ajak might just channel the career of her role model and fellow Sudanese supermodel Alek Wek. Godspeed, Ajak!

You did quite well for yourself in fall 2010, booking Givenchy, Chloé, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Lanvin. What was your most memorable show?
I remember every show like it was yesterday, because every show tells a little story. [But] if I had to choose one, I would say Givenchy.

How do you keep yourself occupied backstage?
I always make sure that my iPod is filled with my favorite tunes, including Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, and Usher. I'm also always interested in meeting new people, so I spend time making new friends and reconnecting with old ones.

Your skin is ridiculous. How do you maintain such a beautiful complexion?
I don't wear any makeup [off-the-runway] and I drink a lot of water.

You were featured in a spread for Interview's May issue that some people felt had racial undertones. What do you think?
It was a beautiful story, and I didn’t think there were any racial undertones. There were all types of people featured, and I believe the producers cast a story to make a strong statement. Clearly they succeeded.

In an interview with The Age last year, you said you wanted to meet Alek Wek. Has that happened yet?
No, but hopefully one day. She is such an inspirational person in my life. Alek Wek has proven to me that just because I am a girl doesn't mean I can't do whatever I want.

Scope more photos of Ajak in her new profile, and find out who else is on the rise in our extensive Model Manual.