LIFE

Anok Yai Leads Fashion’s New Wave of Style Rebels


Photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott; Styled by Jacob K.

What is fashion now? If you were to take a look at the latest runways, one name certainly emerges: Anok Yai, a new mainstay on the runways, show after show, designer after designer. And come Fashion Week each season, the model has her hair braided into cornrows. It is not so much a beauty statement as a social one—an appeal to the fashion industry for more cultural awareness. “A lot of people are not well versed about how to do black hair,” she explains. “When I started out, I had so much breakage and heat damage, I lost 10 inches off the length.” Born in Egypt to Sudanese refugees, Yai grew up in New Hampshire, where her parents worked long hours to make ends meet. Their work ethic instilled in her a desire to effect change; and just two years into her career, she appears to be doing just that. During her debut season, she became the first black model since Naomi Campbell to open a show for Prada, a house previously called out for its lack of diversity on the runway. And last year, she was appointed an ambassador for Estée Lauder, where she offers input on creating products for all skin tones. “Everyone should see themselves represented in fashion,” she says. In her free time, Yai fields DMs from young women eager for advice. “I tell them, ‘When you walk into a room, demand respect and attention.’ ” Here, lensed by Mert and Marcus, Yai and a cast of the industry’s new supers take a look at what happens when punk, New Wave, and grunge collide. Here, behold the new youth culture sophisticates.

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Photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott; Styled by Jacob K. Hair by Paul Hanlon at Julian Watson Agency; Makeup by Lucia Pieroni at Streeters; Manicures by Kelly Shenton for Chanel. Casting by Edward Kim. Models: Ansley Gulielmi and Chun Jin at Ford Models; Florence Hutchings at Heroes Model Management; Cyrielle Lalande at Wilhelmina; Kristin Drab and Hyunji Shin at IMG Models; Lara Mullen at DNA Model Management; Sasha Knysh at Muse Model Management; Anok Yai at Next Management. Produced by Across Media Production; Executive Producer: Leonard Cuinet-Petit; Retouching by Dreamer PostProduction; Fashion assistants: Flora Huddart, Phillip Smith, Molly Robinson.

Yai wears a Versace coat, dress, top, skirt, choker, pins, hand cuff, and ring. Beauty note: Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup in 8N1 Espresso, Double Wear Stay-in-Place Eye Pencil in Onyx.

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Photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott; Styled by Jacob K.

Balenciaga coat, shirt, and skirt; Versace gloves.

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Photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott; Styled by Jacob K.

Gucci jacket, shirt, tie, choker, and braces; Uncommon Matters earring.

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Photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott; Styled by Jacob K.

Sacai sweater, skirt, belt, and shoes; Gucci choker; Versace key ring; Maria La Rosa socks.

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Photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott; Styled by Jacob K.

Valentino coat and dress; Hillier Bartley shirt; Uncommon Matters earrings.

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Photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott; Styled by Jacob K.

Alexander McQueen jacket; Gucci choker. Beauty note: Maybelline New York Line Express Eyeliner in Ebony Black.

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Photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott; Styled by Jacob K.

Simone Rocha trenchcoat, top, and dresses; No21 shirt; Giu Giu sleeveless turtleneck; Valentino Garavani hat; Maria La Rosa socks; Sacai shoes; stylist’s own belt.

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Photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott; Styled by Jacob K.

Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello coat; Victoria Beckham blazer; Hillier Bartley shirt; Kwaidan Editions skirt; Uncommon Matters earrings; Gucci belt; Paula Rowan gloves.

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Photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott; Styled by Jacob K.

Maison Margiela trenchcoat; Hermès jacket and skirt; Wing & Weft Gloves gloves.

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Photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott; Styled by Jacob K.

Fendi blazer; Coach 1941 blouse; Paula Rowan gloves.

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Photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott; Styled by Jacob K.

Isabel Marant jacket; Proenza Schouler sweater; Charvet shirt; Alexander Wang leather skirt; Dries Van Noten skirt; Zana Bayne harness; Falke socks.

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Photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott; Styled by Jacob K.

Givenchy coat; Kwaidan Editions shirt; Giu Giu turtleneck; Wing & Weft Gloves gloves; stylist’s own belt.

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Photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott; Styled by Jacob K.

Michael Kors Collection jacket and pants; Polo Ralph Lauren sweater and kilt; Noir Kei Ninomiya shirt and harness gloves; Isabel Marant turtleneck.

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Photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott; Styled by Jacob K.

Louis Vuitton jacket and shirt; Uncommon Matters earrings; Gucci belt.

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Photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott; Styled by Jacob K.

Marni coat; Rick Owens bodysuit and boots.

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Photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott; Styled by Jacob K.

Comme des Garçons jacket, one-piece, top, pants, and harness.

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Photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott; Styled by Jacob K.

Michael Kors Collection jacket; Isabel Marant turtleneck.

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Photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott; Styled by Jacob K.

Celine by Hedi Slimane trenchcoat, blazer, sweater, shirt, culottes, hat, and boots; Uncommon Matters earrings; stylist’s own harness.

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Photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott; Styled by Jacob K.

Burberry coat, corset, dress, and T-shirt; Eric Javits hat.

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Photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott; Styled by Jacob K.

Gucci jacket, shirt, tie, choker, and braces.