Sudanese supermodel Alek Wek featured in The Guardian’s March 2014 Issue. Styled by Priscilla Kwateng and photographed by Gustavo Papaleo.

Alek Wek was 19 when she was approached by a model scout from a top London agency at a fair in Crystal Palace park. Her mother, she remembers, was horrified, thinking her daughter was about to become a Page 3 girl. She laughs loudly: “I had to point out that I wasn’t really built for that.” Wek, one of the most successful models of the past two decades, has inherited her father’s height and extraordinarily long limbs, her mother’s cheekbones and her “little booty and big smile”, but she’s not exactly glamour-girl material. But the agent persisted, finally convincing Wek’s mother that theirs was a reputable agency, and her daughter’s career began.

She went to New York and had been there barely a week when Ralph Lauren booked her to open and close his catwalk show (the spot normally reserved for the big model of the moment, not a newbie). Calvin Klein, Isaac Mizrahi, Todd Oldham and Anna Suifollowed suit. Wek was booked to star in Tina Turner’s  GoldenEye video, named Model of the Year by i-D magazine and, in 1997 (less than a year after starting out), became the first African model to appear on the cover of Elle magazine.

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Champ De Couleur: Alek Wek shot by Jean-Baptiste Mondino for Vogue Paris December 1997

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Champ De Couleur: Alek Wek shot by Jean-Baptiste Mondino for Vogue Paris December 1997

Alek Wek for As If Magazine photographed by Tatijana Shoan

Philip Treacy All Black Model Runway Show

Milliner Philip Treacy London Fashion Week Spring 2013 presentation featured all black models. 25 black models including, Leomie AndersonJourdan Dunn, Nyasha Matonhodze,  Sessilee Lopez, Alek WekGrace Bol and more participated in the show which was introduced by superstar Lady Gaga. Treacy’s collection of headpieces were donned alongside original costumes from Michael Jackson’s estate.

Treacy stated that, “The show was a homage to the African woman and their sensibility to dress up,” in an interview with The London Evening Standard.

Video of the run way show: