From refugee camp to runway, Adut Akech is the new face of beauty brand Estée Lauder
South Sudanese-Australian model Adut Akech is officially the newest brand ambassador for Estée Lauder, a luxury beauty brand founded by one of the world’s first female entrepreneurs.
“Adut is one of fashion’s biggest and most influential stars. We believe her incredible story, personality and beauty will help us continue to inspire and connect with our consumers and establish her as a beauty icon of her generation,” Stéphane de la Faverie, group president, Estée Lauder Companies, said in a statement.
Akech will feature in makeup and skincare campaigns across digital, in-store, TV and print. Her first campaign will begin in July 2021, according to a release.
“Estée Lauder has such an amazing heritage, and the story of Mrs. Estée Lauder continues to be an inspiration to women around the world,” said Akech of her new ambassadorial role. “I hope to inspire girls everywhere to never give up on following their dreams.”
Born in a refugee camp in South Sudan, Akech grew up in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp. The role model and change-maker later emigrated to Adelaide, Australia. She joined a modeling agency as a student. Her big break came in 2016 when she got the opportunity to work on a global exclusive for Anthony Vaccarello’s debut Yves Saint Laurent show.
Since then, she has become one of the fashion industry’s ‘It girls’. Akech has walked across runways modeling for some of fashion’s biggest names, such as Alexander McQueen, Calvin Klein, Miu Miu, and Prada. She is a regular face in the spread of luxury magazines worldwide including British Vogue, Italian Vogue, Vogue Australia, Japanese Vogue, Vogue Paris, i-D and Vogue Korea, according to Marie Claire.
The 21-year-old has become a muse for Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli and Chanel’s late Karl Lagerfeld and has had features in campaigns for Chanel, Fendi, Versace, Valentino, Marc Jacobs, and Saint Laurent as well.
With her unique story of growing up in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya after fleeing unrest from South Sudan, Akech is currently working with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to promote causes that support refugees around the world.
The winner of the coveted Model of the Year honor at The Fashion Awards in 2019 and the 2019 TIME100 Next list honoree has navigated her career in a time where people are now becoming more accepting of dark-skinned models even though she has had her fair share of struggles.
She hopes to use her platform to show little dark-skinned girls that they do not need to dim their lights for others.
“All my hard work has led me to moments like this,” Akech said of her new role with Estée Lauder. “Long story short, growing up in the western world I didn’t really see a representation of myself in the fashion and beauty world on television or magazines until I got into the fashion industry.”
“To now be the representation in the fashion and beauty space I didn’t have growing up means everything to me. My little sisters will now also see their faces in my beauty ads and campaign billboards. Little black girls in South Sudan, Africa, and all around the world will now see themselves,” Akech shared on Instagram celebrating her endorsement deal with Estée Lauder.