The Somalian born, American raised, Halima Aden first made headlines when she competed for the title of Miss Minnesota USA wearing a burkini and a hijab, a first for the pageant world. And now she's challenging traditional stereotypes at fashion week too.
Signed with IMG Models, who also rep the Hadid sisters, the 19-year-old made her runway debut at Kanye West's Yeezy Season 5 show at NYFW last week. But it was her appearance at Alberta Ferretti and today's Max Mara show at Milan Fashion Week that has really got the fashion industry talking. While Kanye West is known for his diverse casting, Milan fashion week is often seen as being quite traditional and old-school, so Aden's inclusion sends a major signal about how the industry is changing. 'That two classic Italian brands cast Aden for their shows is an incredible postive sign for diversity in fashion,' says Charlotte Moore, editor-in-chief of InStyle, who watched Aden walk in both shows.
Diversity was a hot topic on London Fashion Week runways, too, with Simone Rocha, Osman and Marques'Almedia using both a mixture of model and street casting.
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Aden has also fronted the cover of CR Fashion Book and captioned a shot of the magazine on Instagram with: 'Never thought I would see the day that a woman dressed like me would grace the cover of a fashion magazine. Thank you SO much @carineroitfeld and my new @crfashionbook family for giving me the opportunity to feel represented in the most beautiful way.' Speaking about the model, editor-in-chief Carine Roitfeld has said: 'Halima is breaking boundaries of beauty and perception by being herself. I find this incredibly inspiring, and I know she will be an icon.'
So does Aden's casting mark a move towards more more inclusivity. Only time will tell...