When model Ikram Abdi Omar stepped out on the Molly Goddard Fall 2018 runway wearing her hijab, she instantly joined the ranks of the inimitable game-changing women who are breaking the modeling mould. With her glowing complexion and hazel eyes, Abdi Omar’s beauty would capture attention anywhere, but representing the oft-underrepresented Muslim woman in one of London Fashion Week’s most talked-about shows displays the industry’s ongoing pursuit to be more inclusive in recent seasons. “Having models from different races, religions, and backgrounds gives hope to younger girls,” Abdi Omar says to Vogue.me. “For instance, a young black Muslim girl can be proud to see someone that looks just like her, in the sense of skin tone and clothing, can make it to London Fashion Week.”
The Somali beauty, who began her modeling career doing photoshoots for abaya and hijab brands, recently signed to Bookings Models on a whim before making her Fashion Week debut two days ago. However, it wasn’t her first foray into runway modeling. Abdi Omar’s first catwalk was actually during London Modest Fashion Week, where she got to walk alongside fellow Somali model Halima Aden, who became the first hijab-wearing high-fashion model on runways in New York and Milan.
Although the newcomer has had to practice walking up and down hallways in heels (and even cooking and cleaning in a pair of stilettos) and commuting from casting to casting, she is enjoying her Fashion Week experience. “Walking for Molly Goddard was so eye-opening,” she muses. “You have to be patient and queue up for ages when you go for a casting, but it’s all worth it when you get told that you have a chance to be part of such a massive show. I’m from Bristol [UK] so I have got used to making my way around places here in London,” she coyly adds.
For Abdi Omar, being cast in a major show proved that designers and casting agents are willing to work with modest women. “I’ve seen a hijabi at two of the castings I’ve been to, so I think she might be in the fashion week calendar as well, which is so exciting! We are becoming stronger and there are more and more of us out here representing,” says the 21-year-old, who showcases the compatibility between modesty and fashion through her various social media platforms including YouTube and Instagram.
Next for the model is walking the On|Off runway today. In the meantime, she is grateful her first runway show went just as she’d hoped. “One key message that I would put out there is to never stop doing what you love to do and dream big. I’ve always wanted to model at London Fashion Week, so if I can do it, they can do it too.”