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.
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