This Week's Model: Aminata Niaria
Although Gisele Bundchen’s big break came when she was eating at a McDonalds, Sengalese head turner Aminata Niaria’s discovery story is even better. Three years ago while walking to school in Paris, the gorgeous twenty something unwittingly caught the attention of Alber Elbaz. The designer immediately booked Niaria for his spring 2007 Lanvin show and the rest, as they say, is history. In the last three weeks alone, Niaria left the fashion pack swooning as she walked the runways for Rodarte, Carolina Herrera, Narciso Rodriguez, Fendi and MaxMara. We got a hold of the busy model in the midst of Paris fashion week.
Backstage at Rodarte.
You’ve walked in an amazing slate of shows—what’s been your favorite thus far?
Rodarte! The clothes were amazing, and they used such strong girls.
Of the four fashion weeks, which do you enjoy the most?
There is always lots of action in New York, but I just love Paris. It’s a beautiful city.
Who are your favorite designers?
Lanvin, of course! I also love Dior, Louis Vuitton, Rick Owens and Balenciaga. Prada, Verasce and Cavalli are my Milano faves.
We’ve heard some designers don’t pay for shows—
Some don’t pay in money, but they pay in trade. It’s cool!
What have been some of your favorite designer gifts?
I received a great cardigan from Ohne Titel and a vest from Narciso Rodriguez.
Who are your model icons?
Iman and Naomi.
Ungaro’s fall 2009 ad campaign.
What are your thoughts on diversity on the runway?
It makes me feel sad. I hope that it will change with time.
What is your off-duty uniform?
I live in a great pair of skinny jeans and comfortable boots. Basically, Levis and Uggs, which are so comfy for traveling, and easy to slip on and off between shows.
We’ve heard you are interested in graphic design?
I never concentrated on graphic design in school, but working in fashion has sparked my fascination for artistic presentation. I would want to be a graphic designer if I wasn’t modeling.
What do you as soon as you get home after a show?
I usually take a long hot bath and catch up with my mom on the phone.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Sengalese cuisine! I love yassa!
Photos: headshot, Skye Parriot; runway, WWD staff.