It is commonplace to see and hear about designers, look books and collections; however, little attention is given to the models who bring these designs and ideas to life. These models are gifted, talented, and smiling to the bank. They are also hot and sexy.
Leading the pack is Agbani Darego MFR. Aside from being a Nigerian model, she is a beauty queen. She is recognized as the first black African to win Miss World beauty pageant which was held in China in 2001. Prior to winning MBGN, Darego featured in print commercials for boutique chain Collectibles. After Miss Universe, she was invited by Naomi Campbell to participate in Frock ‘n’ Roll, a charity fashion show in Barcelona, and soon negotiated a modelling deal with Trump Model Management in America. Shortly after her reign as Miss World, she was represented by London and Paris branches of Next Model Management and landed a three-year contract with L’Oréal, becoming only the second Black model to accomplish this feat after Vanessa Williams, and was photographed by Annie Leibovitz, a big name in Americans portrait photograph sphere for Vogue. Other brands she has modelled for include Avon, Christian Dior, Sephora, Target, and Macy’s. Darego has also appeared in Elle, Marie Claire, Allure, Trace, Stitch, Cosmopolitan, and Essence magazines, working with numerous designers including Oscar de la Renta, Marc Bouwer, Tommy Hillfiger, Ralph Lauren, and Gianfranco Ferre. In Nigeria, Darego has appeared in advertising campaigns for hair care brand, Gentle Touch with model Oluchi, and served as the face of Arik Air. She has also graced the covers of Complete Fashion, Mania, ThisDay Style, Genevieve, True Love, and TW Magazine. She was born in Lagos, Nigeria on the 22nd of December in the year 1982. She got married to Ishaya, son of former defense minister, Theophilus Danjuma on April 8th, 2017.
Also on the list is Iheoma Nnadi, a Nigerian model, businesswoman and beauty queen. She was born on the 15th of May in the year 1995 in Lagos State, Nigeria. She won the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria in the year 2014 when she represented Akwa-Ibom. She is currently married to a Nigerian prestigious Footballer, Emmanuel Emenike. Their marriage will be five years on May 26, 2022. They’re blessed with 2 kids.
Sylvia Nduka also makes the list. She is a Nigerian model and beauty queen. She hails from Anambra state which is in the eastern part of Nigeria. She was born on the 14th of October in the year 1991 in Lagos State, Nigeria. She won the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria in the year 2011.
Omowunmi Akinnifesi is also one of the pretty models in town. She is a Nigerian model, businesswoman and beauty queen. She was born in Lagos State, Nigeria in the year 1987. She won the Most Beautiful Girl in the year 2005. She currently runs Ellepoise Ltd, a modeling outfit. Omowunmi Akinnifesi is the new Brand Ambassador of Lasaco Assurance, one of Nigeria’s top insurance companies and promoter of Nivea® International skin care products for Africa.
Another pretty model worth mentioning is Sandra Okagbue. All things rolled in one, she is a Nigerian model, beauty queen and actress. She happens to be the first daughter of the late Monarch of Onitsha, Obi Ofala Okagbue in the eastern part of Nigeria. She is a very popular model in Nigeria and a baby mama to Nigerian Music star, Flavour.
Anna Ebiere Banner also makes the list of pretty models who’re making millions. She’s also an actress and beauty queen. She was born on the 18th of February in the year 1995 in Lagos State, Nigeria. She won the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria in the year 2013.
Sensational Oluchi Onweagba-Orlandi also makes the list. Born on 1st August, 1980 Oluchi is a Nigerian model based in New York City. Growing up in the suburbs of Lagos, she won “The Face of Africa” contest at the age of 16. A successful model, Oluchi has walked the runways for Gucci, Carolina Herrera, John Galliano, Missoni, Tommy Hilfiger, Chanel, Bottega Veneta, Christian Dior, Alessandro Dell’Acqua, Jeremy Scott, Helmut Lang, Fendi, Anna Sui, Givenchy, Kenzo, Giorgio Armani, Céline, Nina Ricci, and Diane Von Furstenberg. In 2006, Onweagba married Italian fashion designer Luca Orlandi. They were friends for a very long time before they got married. They have two sons and reside in New York.
Yaya Dacosta is a pretty Nigerian model and beauty queen. She was born and raised in the United States of America on the 15th of November 1982 in New York City. She happens to be the runner-up in Cycle 3 of America’s Next Top Models.
Adeola Ariyo is one of the most beautiful models in Nigeria. An actress, Adeola Ariyo is a Nigerian-born model and beauty queen who became Elizabeth Arden’s first-ever African Ambassador in 2014. She began her modelling career at the age of 13 after being scouted for and participating in the London Fashion Week. She is also a TV presenter @ Honey Africa TV. Participating in several fashion weeks, she has graced the cover of several magazines. Adeola was born in Lagos to a Ghanaian Mother and a Nigerian Father. She grew up in Nigeria but sometimes travel to London with her father. Her participation in the London Fashion Week at the age of 13 was made possible when she went shopping with her father in London. While she spends most of her time in Cape Town, South Africa, Adeola also travels to Lagos and London. Adeola’s modelling career began at the early age of 13 when she met Alek Wek and Kate Moss just after being signed by the London Fashion Week agency. In 2005, she participated in the Nokia Face of Africa Competition and since then, she has been very active in the international modelling scene. Aside featuring in the London Fashion Week, Adeola has also featured in other fashion weeks. Notable among them are the Johannesburg Fashion Week, Mozambique Fashion Week, Cape Town Fashion Week, and the Arise Fashion Week, Lagos. She spent several years modelling in South Africa before securing the Elizabeth Arden appointment in February 2014. Aside featuring in different fashion weeks, Adeola also featured for a number of fashion publications such as Marie Claire, True Love and Fair Lady, Cosmopolitan and Glamour.
What of Aminat Ayinde, a Nigerian fashion model and actress? A participant of America’s Next Top Model, Aminat’s clients include Heatherette, Supima, Sergio Davila, Ahn Young Chee, LaQuan Smith, Korto Momolu, Zulu Rose, David Tlale and Lanre DaSilva-Ajayi. She was recognized after being a finalist on cycle 12 of America’s Next Top Ten Model. After the show, Aminat signed to MMG Models in New York, as well as Base Model Agency and Twenty Model Management in Cape Town. She has appeared in Ebony, Seventeen, Essence, Genevieve, WD, Fairlady, Baku, One Up Cape Town, Grazia South Africa, Dark Beauty, Guitar Aficionado, The Sunday Times Fashion Weekly South Africa, Balanced Life South Africa, Women’s Health South Africa, as well as some bridal magazines. She hails from the northern part of the country but was born in New Jersey in the United States of America.
Chinenye Ochuba-Akinlade is a beautiful Nigerian model. She happens to be the seventh child in a family comprising of 8 children. She won the 2002 Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria while she was awaiting her admission into the university. Despite being a favorite for the Miss Universe 2002 crown, she failed to make it to the top ten, but fared better at Miss World, where she was a top ten finalist, as well as the African Continental Queen of Beauty. Chinenye was formerly a student at the University of Lagos, where she won many prestigious awards in the campus modelling competition. She later completed her studies in London and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and Financing at the University of Greenwich in London, United Kingdom in 2008.
Mayowa Nicholas is a girl on fire. Winner of the Elite Model Look in 2014, Nicholas has been riding the industry like a colossus and smiling to the bank while at it. She has worked with huge brands such as Prada, Miu Miu, Hermes, Dior, Dolce and Gabbana, Paul Smith, Missoni, YSL and Lisa Folawiyo, opened and closed several shows as well as graced several magazine covers. Mayowa Nicholas was born on 22nd May 1998. She is the first Nigerian model to star in a Dolce & Gabbana, Saint Laurent, and Calvin Klein campaigns. In her first runway season, 2015, Mayowa appeared in shows for Balmain, Balenciaga, Calvin Klein, Kenzo, Hermès, and Acne Studios among others. More recently, she has worked with high-profile designers like Prada, Miu Miu, Versace, Chanel, Michael Kors, and Oscar de la Renta. She has also starred in a Dolce & Gabbana campaign. She was supposed to make her debut in the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, but days before the show, her visa to travel to China was rejected, along with several Russian and Ukrainian models, which prevented her from walking the show. She officially made her debut in the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Nicholas is currently ranked as one of Models.com’s “Top 50” models.
Banke Su is one of Nigeria’s most requested models. She is signed to Beth Models Africa and has featured in several campaigns for Toju Foyeh, Inglot Nigeria and Polo Avenue. Owner of her eponymous events business, Adebanke Tolu– Sorinola (better known as Banke Su) has worked with many of Nigeria’s biggest and most luxurious brands.
Uju Marshall keeps impressing us year-in-year-out. A freelance model who won the MTN Model of the Year at the Lagos Fashion and Design Week in 2014, she keeps putting her best foot forward. She has worked for brands like Maki Oh, Lisa Folawiyo, Orange Culture, Lanre Da Silva, Tiffany Amber, Stanbic and Union Bank, Sleek and House of Tara. Uju Marshall Nwobodoh, professionally referred to as Uju Marshall, was born in Enugu State, Eastern Nigeria. She started modelling in 2009 while in Enugu State where she was scouted by Denrele Edun before she moved to Lagos State to professionally pursue a career in modelling. Her career so far has seen her cover magazines and being the face of fashion brands including Orange Culture, French fashion magazine L’Insense and Union Bank of Nigeria; among others. In 2016, she was nominated in the Fashion Model category at the 2016 Nigeria Entertainment Awards.
Betty Adewole is taking no prisoners and has modeled for luxury brands such as Tom Ford, Prada, Alexander McQueen, Issey Miyake and Emanuel Ungaro and has graced the cover of several magazines.
Myever Akinleye is signed to Few Models. She is in her early 20s but that hasn’t stopped her from achieving big. Strutting the runway at the Year 2015 Lagos Fashion and Design Week (LFDW), she has worked with big players such as Bridget Awosika, Mai Atafo, Maki oh, Lanre Da Silva, Tiffany Amber, Ejiro Amos Tafiri, Andrea Iyamah, Deola Sagoe and was part of the 1702 London campaign.
Aduke Shitta Bey has worked with Deola Sagoe, MAC, MUD Nigeria and has covered several magazines.
Olamide Ogundele is signed to Few Models, has graced several magazine covers and was the face of Year 2015 Lagos Fashion and Design Week. She has participated in several look books including Seven Dejana SS16 and Deola Sagoe’s Komole Kandid.
Ifeoma Nwobu is one of the young Nigerian models pioneering the scenes of independent modelling, placing a mark on its history, and leaving a lasting jittery impression – whether on the runway or during photoshoots. Born into a family, the graduate from the department of Political Science in the University of Lagos, Nigeria, always knew she wanted to be a model. Between juggling independent modelling and running two Nigerian tech startups – Fru girls and Scrader, the young entrepreneur is leaving a trail of unmatched creativity in the Nigerian fashion scene.
Amarachi Ironkwe is a Nigerian model who also loves writing and aromotherapy. The model was first spotted when she was one of the selected 20 finalists for Elite Model Look in 2016. Though she didn’t win, she got her big break thanks to Few Models and has worked with brands including Adidas and J.W Anderson.
Bola Edun is signed to all the top agencies; Elite in New York, Select in London and Few in Lagos. The stunning model now enjoys the jet set life, flying between all the fashion capitals for various jobs. She recently landed a coveted campaign with US lingerie giants, Victoria Secret and we are sure, there’s much more to come from this rising star.
2018 was Eniola Abioro’s year to say the least. The model absolutely killed it at fashion week, walking in all the major shows and making history by being the first Nigerian to make an international debut at Prada. Vogue profiled the model and said, ‘The latest beauty to make the ultimate career change is Eniola Abioro, the 19-year-old Nigerian newcomer who has spent the last few months working for brands like Loewe, Miu Miu, and Off-White. In photo shoots and at shows, Abioro has made an impact with her elegant walk and refined good looks.
Originally signed to Beth model management, Ruth Akele made the leap to Few models which propelled her into the international modelling game. Having just been signed to Select model management in London, Ruth’s career has gone into overdrive. Coming in at slightly under 6ft, the statuesque model has modelled for brands including Burberry, Ottolinger and Lisa Folawiyo.
Ayobami Okekunle, fondly known as BamBam, is taking the modelling world by storm. She was headhunted by Few Models owner, Bolajo Fawehinmi, who reached out to her on Instagram. Bolajo said, “I knew she was a real deal the moment I walked into the agency that morning and saw her sitting in a chair”. Now, only a few years after, Ayobami has become the face of top brands in Paris and London.
Idia Aisien is of Nigerian and Cameroonian descent, was born July 4, 1991, in Lagos to champagne magnate, Joe Aisien, and jeweler, Emmanuella Aisien. She is one of the top models around. As a teenager, Aisien attended Atlantic Hall High School, in Lagos. She then moved to the United States, where she attained a B.A. in journalism from American University in Washington, D.C., and an M.S. in international public relations and global corporate communications from New York University. Aisien has worked with Fox 5 News, the AARP Foundation, Discovery Communications, the Foreign Policy Initiative, the United Nations and Atlas Mara. She has modeled for many brands, such as BMW, Vogue, LAN Airlines, Black Opal, Nivea, Alice + Olivia, J Brand, Cashhimi, Samantha Pleet, Jovani, Evelyn Lambert, Nikki Angelique, An Alili and Sway Hair Ltd. In Nigeria, Idia currently hosts You Got Issues and Style 101 on Spice TV, and the Mega Millions Lottery Draw on Silverbird. Aisien has described herself as being “Smart. Strong. Funny. Complicated. Deep”. She currently works with the International News TV Station – Arise News Guardian woman.
Chidinma Leilani Aaron is also one of the sexy models around. She was born on 16th April, 1993. She is a Nigerian model, entrepreneur, chef, business development manager and motivational speaker. Chidinma was born in Kaduna and raised in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. She is one of three sisters and a brother. She later moved to Ibadan, Oyo State and attended Lead City University, where she graduated with a bachelor of science degree in Business Administration in 2017. Prior to winning Miss Nigeria, she worked as a chef and a customer relationship manager at Yumme Meals, a catering and confectionery outfit located in Abuja.
Adesuwa Aighewi also makes the list of superstar models. She is an American fashion model and filmmaker. In 2018, she was chosen as the runner up for “Breakout Star of the Year” by models.com. As of January 2019, Aighewi ranks as one of the “Top 50” models by models.com. Adesuwa Aighewi was born in Minnesota to a Thai-born Chinese mother and a Nigerian father. Before modeling, she was a chemistry student at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore where she started attending at age 15. She once interned for NASA. As her parents are environmental scientists, she moved frequently and spent half of her childhood in Nigeria. Aighewi was discovered on the campus of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. She has walked for Alexander Wang, Coach, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Kenzo, Kate Spade, Miu Miu, Bottega Veneta, Marc Jacobs, Yeezy, Michael Kors, Prabal Gurung, Christian Dior, Fendi, and Tommy Hilfiger, among others. She has appeared in advertisements for Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang, and Chanel.
Olutosin Araromi, a high-flying model, also makes our list. She was born on 8th January, 1993 and is a Nigerian-American model and beauty pageant titleholder. She was crowned Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria Universe 2019. She represented Nigeria at the Miss Universe 2019. She was born and raised in New Jersey, United States, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Services from Montclair State University. Olutosin started her career in 2015 when she won the Miss Nigeria USA pageantry. She also won the Most Beautiful Girl In Nigeria Universe 2019, the event was held in 11 October at the Gabriel Okara Cultural Centre Yenegoa, Bayelsa. She represented Taraba State. Olutosin represented Nigeria at the 68th Miss Universe pageant, which was held on December 8, 2019, at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia where she placed in the top 20.
Abiola Bashorun is a Nigerian model and beauty pageant titleholder, she won the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria pageantry in 2006. In 2006, eighteen-year-old Bashorun was the surprise winner of the annual pageant. As the reigning queen, Bashorun’s platform was Sickle Cell Awareness. She was inspired after losing a friend to the disease; she spent most of her reign organising workshops and seminars to educate Nigerians on the disease. She also represented Nigeria at Miss World 2006. In 2008, Bashorun appeared in a commercial for Motorola. She later went on to study Law in The United Kingdom and later moved back to Nigeria after graduating.
Omotu Bissong (born Cecilia Ohumotu Bissong) is a Nigerian model, television presenter, and actress, best known as Funke Lawal in Desperate Housewives Africa. A native of Yala, Cross River State, Bissong started her modelling career when she was a child. She attended Nigerian Navy Primary School and Nigerian Navy Secondary school, both in [Navy Town, Lagos], the latter she completed at the age of fourteen. She would later enroll as a student of the University of Calabar where she studied Economics. In 2003, Bissong – then credited as Celia Bissong – made history by becoming the first Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria winner from the South-South (While Regina Askia held the title in 1989, she won by default when she replaced Bianca Onoh). Her platform was HIV/AIDS Awareness, and Tourism Promotion, and her reign saw her compete at Miss Universe and Miss World. Bissong worked as a model in Nigeria before moving to America, where she signed up with another model agency whilst studying Accounting at the City University of New York. In an interview with The Vanguard in 2008, Bissong criticised discrimination against black models in the American fashion industry, and admitted she was facing strong competition. Upon her return to Nigeria, she opened a model management company in a bid to restore professionalism in the industry.
Diana Chioma Eneje, known professionally as Diana Eneje, is a Nigerian fashion enthusiasts, model, vlogger and social media influencer. Born and raised in Lagos, Diana hails from Enugu, a state in the southeast region of Nigeria. She is known for starring in Rema’s music video- Dumebi, Nivea skin-care, Zaron cosmetics, and the Hewlett-Packard Pavilion x360 campaigns. Diana Chioma Eneje was born on August 19, 2002 in Lagos to Kingsley Eneje, and Linda Eneje. Her early influence in fashion, came from her eldest sisters Jennifer Eneje, and Doris Eneje, who inspired her fashion taste, while growing up at a tender age. In 2016, she started her career in modeling as a teen model, at the age of 14. On 19th August 2017, she launched her foundation, to support orphans. Diana started a fashion vlog on YouTube in August 2019. She documents fashion, hair, food, and her travel experiences. On 19th August 2019, she launched her hair gel collection in collaboration with The Shine Cartel. She also appeared in Rema’s music video- Dumebi, released by Jonzing World, and Mavin Records on 21 May 2019, as the lead character in the video. Diana has influenced for Hp, Cadbury, PayPorte, Mango, Stanbic IBTC, Krispy Kreme, Kellogg Tolaram, Infinix, Bolt, among others. She was host among other social media influencers by PayPorte, at its 6th anniversary on 28th September 2020, to a private dinner with the CEO. On 19th August 2021, Swarovski, a jewelry and accessories company in Nigeria, unveiled Diana, as its brand influencer.
Kendra Oluchi Etufunwa is a Nigerian model and actress, best known for her lead role on the M-Net hit TV series Jacob’s Cross. She has been featured in top publications such as South African Elle magazine, Glamour (SA) and modelled in advertisements for brands such as Castle Milk Stout, Pepsodent and Knorr. In March 2012, the technology company Intel in Kenya and Nigeria, appointed Etufunwa as brand ambassador for their lifestyles division. Kendra moved to New York City from South Africa in 2010 and walked the runway for Lily Ghalichi’s brand “want my look” at the New York Fashion Week in 2012. She was also fortunate to meet with ‘A list’ cinematographer Emanuel Lubeski aka Chivo who chose her personally to shoot for his portrait series. Most recently, she has worked closely as a brand ambassador for The New York Times travel show as well as an ambassador for the Iheart Radio Jingle ball concert. She is terrific in front of the camera and a pleasant delight with various productions, who consider her a chameleon and a breath of fresh air.
Collette Nwadike (born Collete Kosisochukwu Barbara on 6th April 1991) is a Nigerian Model, Beauty Queen and Nollywood actress. She represented Nigeria in the Exquisite Face of the Universe Pageant in Sao Tome and emerged winner, becoming the first African to do so. In 2014, she was the winner of Miss Tourism Nigeria. Before becoming beauty queen, Nwadike has auditioned and participated in different modelling contests and has been featured in various shows. She works with some talented and well known fashion designers and stylists in Nigeria. Nwadike has judged numerous pageants, and fashion and modeling competitions including Miss Tourism Nigeria 2015 and Mr. Universe Nigeria 2015.
Isio Wanogho (born November 17, 1983) is a Nigerian supermodel, columnist, painter, and Interior architect. She has received an African Youth Society award, two Future Awards nominations, FAB award, a Nigerian Model Achievers Award and was named a youth ambassador by the Global Foundation for Peace, Unity, and Development. After being scouted on her way home from private lessons by model-scout Otu Winpana, Wanogho told her family who were initially not enthusiastic about the idea but eventually turned around. Later that year, Wanogho contested in the 2002 QueenAfrik beauty pageant with the support of her mother. Winpana chaperoned her but Wanogho neither won nor came out as a finalist. Wanogho’s big break came when she was chosen to model for designer DAVIDA at the 2002 St. Moritz Style Selection – the biggest fashion show in Nigeria at the time. Over the next few years as a run-way model, she modelled for the biggest Nigerian designers and became the muse for Davida, Remi Lagos and HALLERO. In 2015, Wanogho was unveiled as The Campaign Ambassador for DIESEL in Nigeria and the face of DIESEL@Centro in Nigeria.