Adesuwa Aighewi comes out of her dressing area in her first look.
Mary Kang

Go Behind the Scenes of New York Fashion Week With Adesuwa Aighewi

February 15, 2019

Being one of the fashion industry’s most in-demand faces was never a goal for Adesuwa Aighewi, who walked in the top shows this New York Fashion Week. Despite being scouted multiple times, the American-born, African-raised 26-year-old model and filmmaker didn’t seriously consider fashion as a career until she was a pre-med student studying chemistry in college.

“I was quite focused on my goal to become a doctor, so modeling wasn’t really an interest of mine,” she said. “Eventually, I decided to give it a try and it turned out really fun!” In the time since Aighewi gave modeling a go, she’s become a staple of the high fashion scene, walking in runway shows for the likes of Chanel, Alexander Wang and Oscar de la Renta.

Now, Aighewi is using her modeling work and visibility as a way to amplify her advocacy, noting: “my modeling platform helps me get my activism across.”

Vocal about social change and the need for diversity in the fashion industry, Aighewi balances her busy modeling schedule with some major side projects that speak to her activism, including writing an op-ed for The Guardian about the politics of black women’s hair to debuting a short film, “Spring in Harlem,” about the beauty and agency of five Muslim women living in her Harlem neighborhood.

With an action-packed fashion month in full swing, TIME asked Aighewi to share what a day in her life looked like during this New York Fashion Week. From the runway to the after-party, here’s what 24 hours of NYFW is really like with top model Adesuwa Aighewi.

Aighewi is photographed with fellow models Shanelle Nyasiase (middle) and Bella Hadid (right) after Brandon Maxwell's show.
Mary Kang
Aighewi shows off her walk at her casting in Chelsea.
Mary Kang
Since Aighewi has already had two different makeup looks today, the makeup team for the Brandon Maxwell Fall/Winter 2019 show put on a face mask to help her skin before applying a new look.
Mary Kang
Aighewi quickly eats in between runway walkthroughs and rehearsals.
Mary Kang
Show producers pull Aighewi and fellow model Anyelina Rosa aside to take photographs in her second look after the show finished.
Mary Kang
Models rehearse before the show.
Mary Kang
Aighewi waits for a car to bring her to a quick casting in between her Longchamp and Brandon Maxwell shows.
Mary Kang
Before the final show of the day, Aighewi stops by Industria in the Meatpacking District to see the Tiffany & Co. Modern Love Exhibition. Here, Aighewi is viewing images of her and Francesco Cuizza, photographed by Renell Medrano.
Mary Kang
Aighewi at the R13 show.
Mary Kang
Aighewi at the Longchamp show.
Mary Kang
Left: Aighewi’s look for the Longchamp show hangs backstage; Right: Aighewi, wearing the knee-high boots that she will wear during the show, waits for the second rehearsal
Mary Kang
Aighewi rushes from the Meatpacking District back down to the Financial District for her last show of the day, R13.
Mary Kang
Aighewi takes beauty photos, which were created by makeup artist Dick Page, and hairstylist, Jimmy Paul backstage before heading down for first looks.
Mary Kang
Aighewi fixes her hair using her phone as a mirror before she gets into her first look for the show.
Mary Kang
Details on one of the looks at the R13 show.
Mary Kang
Aighewi wearing her look for R13, styled by Karl Templer.
Mary Kang
Aighewi, along with several other models, wait to get their photos taken for first looks.
Mary Kang
Aighewi is photographed in her first look before the show begins.
Mary Kang

 

 

 

 

 

Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com.