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Liya Kebede #11 on Forbes’ list of world’s richest models

July 19th, 2007 | 4 Comments | Posted in Books/Magazines, Business, Fashion, General

Liya Kebede on Forbes' earners listForbes Magazine has put together a list of the “Top Earning Models in the World” according to estimated earnings over the past 12 months. Ranking at #11 is 29-year-old Ethiopian beauty, Liya Kebede, with $2.5 million earned. A ground-breaker best known as the first black model in Estée Lauder’s history, Ms. Kebede, though not as high-profile as her counterparts, has maintained a successful career appearing in campaigns for brands as diverse as H&M, the Gap, Anne Taylor and Givenchy.

Top models like those on our list still bank millions, but only once a multiyear contract is secured. The days of $10,000 runway fees are over. Top models don’t even do runway. It’s considered an internship process for the hundreds of anonymous 15- and 16-year-old foreign girls who swarm the runways of New York, Paris and Milan each season. They do 70 shows in six weeks and are paid about $250 an hour their first season.

A good hardworking model can make $200,000 a season. But chances are that model, once the season is over, will never be seen or heard from again. – Forbes

To compile it’s list, Forbes also took into account the “relevancy” of the model–determined by recent campaigns, editorials, fashion magazine covers and the opinion of those in the industry. Gisele Bundchen tops the list at $33 million, with Kate Moss ($9 million), Heidi Klum ($8 million), Adriana Lima ($6 million) and Alessandra Ambrosio ($6 million) rounding out the top five slots.

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African fashion features on Fashion Television

July 11th, 2007 | No Comments | Posted in Fashion, Film/Television, General

Yasmin Warsame on Fashion TelevisionThe always insightful program Fashion Television has two exciting podcasts on African fashion posted online. In the first feature, Egyptian Fashion, Egyptian designers talk about traditional and westernized fashion. The second is a feature on Somali-born supermodel Yasmin Warsame. Head over to the Fashion Television site to check them out.

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Vanity Fair’s Africa issue debuts

Iman Alicia Keys Vanity FairJune07coverJayZ George Clooney Vanity FairJune07cover

The Bono-edited July 2007 issue of Vanity Fair, dubbed the “Africa issue”, has hit stands. What an issue this is. With 20 covers photographed by Vanity Fair’s go-to photographer, Annie Leibovitz , and insight on Africa from EVERYONE from Jay-Z, Iman, Djimon Hounsou, Desmond Tutu, Chris Rock, Madonna, Barack Obama, and Queen Rania of Jordan among others, this issue is a great effort on the part of Vanity Fair. Get a copy, read the articles, and let me know your views. Props to YG for the heads up and images.

As you read this—historic—issue of Vanity Fair, the Global Fund is benefiting, but that’s not the main reason we kidnapped this publication’s extraordinary photographers and storytellers. We needed help in describing the continent of Africa as an opportunity, as an adventure, not a burden. Our habit—and we have to kick it—is to reduce this mesmerizing, entrepreneurial, dynamic continent of 53 diverse countries to a hopeless deathbed of war, disease, and corruption. Binyavanga Wainaina’s piece on Kenya is an eye- and mind-opener. From here, what’s needed is a leg up, not a handout. Targeted debt cancellation and aid mean 20 million more African kids are in school, 1.3 million Africans are on lifesaving drugs. Amazing. -from Bono’s guest editor’s letter

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Africa’s next chapter convenes at TEDGlobal 2007

Chris Anderson and Emeka Okafor at TEDGlobalOne of the most important events for Africa’s technology, entertainment, and design industry development, TEDGlobal 2007, is in full swing in Arusha, Tanzania. Coming from vacation I have been reinvigorated by all the developments coming out of this seminal event. Now in it’s 3rd day, the conference has already given me more than enough insight into innovative ideas behind Africa’s next chapter. With all the information and idea sharing at this event, the African blogosphere is sure to be fueled for a long time to come. Below are some important resources for keeping up to date with the happenings in Tanzania. I’ll be watching and listening closely as I hope you all are.

Live updates:
Soyapi Mumba is Twittering TEDGlobal
Ethan Zuckerman of My Heart’s in Accra is live-blogging

Other bloggers at TEDGlobal 2007:
TEDFellow Erik Hersman, of White African
TEDFellow Rafiq Phillips at WebAddiCT
David McQueen
Africa Beat, by Jennifer Brea
Mental Acrobatics
TEDFellow Mweshi
TEDFellow Fran Osseo-Asare, of Betumi: The African Food Network
TEDFellow Soyapi Mumba
TEDFellow Ramon Thomas, of NETucation
Ndesanjo Macha, who writes Digital Africa, in English, and Jikomboe, in Swahili
Ellen Horne at Radio Lab in Tanzania
Sam Ritchie
Harinjaka (in French)
Kenyan Pundit, by TED Conference speaker and blogger Ory Okolloh
Timbuktu Chronicles, by TEDGlobal conference director Emeka Okafor
and of course you can get official updates at the TED blog site

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The business of a modeling career, Noella’s African style

April 5th, 2007 | 2 Comments | Posted in Books/Magazines, Business, Charity, Fashion, General

Noella Harlem World coverA few weeks ago I was delighted to finally meet Noella Coursaris, a model who I had heard so much about. Noella really impressed me with the combination of her background (she was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo to a Congolese mother and Cypriot father and went to business school in Switzerland), her young age, and her work in launching the Georges Malaika Foundation, a foundation through which she will assist African girls in attending primary and secondary school. I have interacted with many models – and model wannabes – in the past but talking to Noella was a breath of fresh air. One thing that struck me about Noella was her determination and focus. While many models say they want to do more with their career, very few are able to organize themselves and make things happen. Though she was recently signed to the popular ID Model Management in NY, from looking at her body of work (Agent Provocateur, Chris Rock’s “I love My Wife”, Vibe Vixen, Cosmopolitan, Essence, GQ, and most recently the cover of Jambo and Harlem World magazines), you can tell that Noella is not one to sit around and wait for opportunities to fall in her lap. Speaking to Noella and Frederic about life, fashion and Africa, I got the same feeling I get when I speak to former model turned business woman extraordinaire Audrey Smaltz, another trailblazer in the fashion industry. Like Audrey, Noella seems to possess the ability to evaluate a situation, come up with a plan, and use her business acumen to make things happen; and it doesn’t hurt that Noella has a warm personality also. The September 2006 Model Inc. issue of Black Enterprise magazine profiled models like Tyra Banks, Iman, and Audrey Smaltz, who have used their focus, determination, talent, and keen business sense to turn the opportunities of an otherwise short career in a superficial industry into a successful business. And speaking to Noella you get the sense that she is taking a page out of their playbook to success. Noella MiamiWhat makes it hard to succeed in the modeling industry is that ultimately you are being hired for your looks and unfortunately with that comes the assumption that all a model has to offer is her/his beauty. But if we look at the trait many of the most memorable models have, it’s being able to understand what each designer’s theme is and use your personality to sell that ideal to the world. And that takes a self-confidence and ability to empathize, that many models lack. I can see that Noella has what it takes to continue to have a long successful career. And by distinguishing herself as an African, though she does not have fashion’s stereotypical ultra dark skin, and extreme features, she, like Liya Kebede, introduces another image of an Africa to the fashion world. About her background Noella says “I am proud to be African, and proud to know where I come from. Africans have so much culture and values !!!”. Iman needs to get this girl on her “I Am African” campaign.
(photo courtesy: Luis Fernandez)

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Maasai herdsman/model talks Gisele Bundchen, American Express, and maintaining maasai culture

March 23rd, 2007 | 2 Comments | Posted in Books/Magazines, Business, Charity, Fashion, General, Travel

Amex RED ad
In the news this week were features on the previously unknown Maasai herdsman who appeared with Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen in this ad for American Express’ new card for the much-criticized RED campaign. Having seen the ad quite a few times in fashion magazines such as Vogue, I often wondered what the effect on the Maasai man had been. Here now, the Maasai herdsman is making news in multiple media outlets telling his story about his experience. What makes the story worth noting is that the herdsman, though having been paid $5000 for his efforts – an amount five times the annual wages in Kenya – has chosen to return to his life in his Maasai village. “To be honest all I was thinking about when I was with this woman was my cattle and goats,” Keseme Ole Parsapaet told The Associated Press, confessing to sleepless nights worrying about who was looking after his herd. Now that’s love for life and culture. How many of us would have taken the money and abandoned our simple lives.

“It is a good experience to work and make some money, but I believe people should be proud of their country… one should always return,”
- Keseme Ole Parsapaet

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This week in African Style 2/24 – 3/2/07

• Africa and the winds of globalisation part 1 and part 2.

• South Africa helping the American film industry reel in the money.

• Angelina Jolie travels to Africa to raise Darfur awareness.

• Reuters’ editor-in-chief outlines plans for Africa site.

• Ethiopia and the global antiterrorism campaign.

• New York’s Museum for African Art finds a home.

• Face of Africa modeling competition is cancelled.

• GE’s user-friendly healthcare concepts for Africa.

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Video of Russell Simmons’ African diamond trip

December 1st, 2006 | 1 Comment | Posted in Business, General, Music, Politics, Travel

Russell Simmons in Botswana, AfricaHip-Hop mogul Russell Simmons touched down in South Africa on Monday without his rumored love interest supermodel Petra Nemcova and immediately released a statement about his fact-finding tour. “I am here because the most important and powerful Muslim minister and the most important and powerful Jewish Rabbi I have met in my lifetime – The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and Rabbi Marc Schnier – both, individually, told me to come here,” Simmons told in a statement. From South Africa Mr. Simmons traveled to Botswana and visited the Jwaneng Diamond Mine, the largest and richest diamond mine in the world by value, with Dr. Benjamin Chavis who is part of the fact finding mission. Upon returning to the United States, on December 5th Simmons is scheduled to hold a press conference at New York City’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel at 2 p.m. There, along with wife (or is it ex-wife) Kimora Lee Simmons, Scott Rauch (both co-owners of Simmons Jewelry Company a partnership with DeBeers) and Dr. Benjamin Chavis (co-chairman of Simmons’ Hip-Hop Summit Action Network), Simmons will “announce major historic initiatives pertaining to Africa and the diamond industry.” Let’s hope so. I’ve already expressed my initial opinion about the trip, but as always am hoping he proves me wrong.

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Alek Wek – from supermodel to fashion designer

May 5th, 2006 | 3 Comments | Posted in Fashion

Alek Wek 1933Since 2002 Sudanese supermodel Alek Wek has been steadily transforming her modeling career to one as a top handbag designer. Back in 2001 Alek’s jet-setting lifestyle gave her an idea to use her love for design (she was studying fashion technology and business at the prestigious London College of Fashion before becoming a model) to develop a line of fashionable handbags.

Since she was “scouted” at a London market in 1995 and scored the cover of American Elle’s November 1997 issue, Alek has become a trendsetter in the modeling business; she’s been named Model of the Decade by i-D magazine, was picked as one of People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People and has worked with some of the most influential photographers of our time including Steven Meisel, Mario Testino, Annie Leibowitz, Nick Knight and the late Herb Ritts.

Everyone knows the modeling business is a cutthroat one and careers are often short. Even though Ms. Wek continues to be at the top of her modeling game, it’s her talent as a designer which is beginning to re-define her success and reposition her in the fashion world for the long term. . Called Wek 1933 (the 1933 is a reference to the day her father was born) the collection of fashionable bags has been featured in numerous magazines and even earned a spot at the Spring 2005 Olympus Fashion Week accessories exhibit . Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld paid her the ultimate compliment by pronouncing the début spring 2002 collection ‘chic’ and backed up the statement by purchasing pieces for his Paris gallery. Wek 1933 bag prices range from $325 to $5,500 and are available at high end stores such as Barney’s and Maxfield and online at Fragments.

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Nokia picks the Face of Africa for 2006

April 17th, 2006 | No Comments | Posted in Fashion, Film/Television

Oluchi OnweagbaOn April 22 the Nokia Face of Africa 2006 contest will have its final casting in Johannesburg, South Africa. Having covered 12 cities since February, the contest is in its eighth year of selecting a unique model who will reign as the Face of Africa. In countries such as Ghana, Rwanda, Namibia and Nigeria, a scouting team has already chosen a semi-finalist. The winner of the continent-wide search will be chosen on August 13 in Sun City in Johannesburg.

Though the contest has been long running, with Nokia backing the efforts, the winner of the contest will gain more exposure than the winners of the past. Only one model so far has turned her win into an international modeling career, though others continue to work as models. Since winning the contest in 1998 at the age of seventeen, Nigerian model Oluchi Onweagba was awarded a three-year contract by Elite Models Management. Oluchi (as she’s known in the modeling world) has since graced the covers of Italian Vogue, I-D, Elle, Untold, and Surface and has been featured in Nylon, Marie Claire, Allure, and Vogue while working with the who’s-who of the fashion world.

The Nokia Face of Africa 2006 contest is being filmed by South Africa’s M-Net channel for its African lifestyle program Studio 53 and will dedicate three programs in July to the search for Nokia Face of Africa 2006.

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