Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle
Samira HASHI: New African fashion and style icon
When did you start modelling?
I started modelling at the age of 17. However I started modelling professionally at 18. At this age I was doing real photo shoots, editorials, fashion shows, campaigns and promotional modelling. It was really difficult as I had to learn from a young age that this is a hard industry to get into, not only do I have to look after myself but I had to have a business mind. To get some sort of recognition I had to stand out from hundreds of young aspiring black models.
Did someone discover your talent or was it your interest?
I could say that I was discovered at a very young age as I was regularly stopped by modelling agencies in Central London however I had no idea that a couple of years down the line I would be pursuing modelling as my career. I think after a photo shoot I realised that I really enjoy taking photos and being in front of the camera. I felt that it came naturally to me especially when I had done my first runway show, I never had any training. I was told to just walk, look up and don’t smile, I had this adrenaline rush go through my body, this weird kind of excitement that I have never felt before. The minute I walked on the runway I knew this was meant for me, this is what I was going to do for a career. Ever since then I have been constantly booked to do photo shoots and fashion shows, so maybe I was right, maybe I am meant to be a model.
Have you participated in any of the International Fashion shows throughout the world? Did you like it and how was that experience?
I have yet to participate in fashion shows internationally however I have done photo shoots abroad. The experience is amazing, it is one of the best parts of modelling travelling around the world and seeing famous places. I love travelling, I always tell myself that I will get married and settle down once I have seen the world because I never know I might meet my husband in China. I think living in the same place for so long kind of makes you simple minded as it is all you know but once you travel you get to learn about different cultures, food and different communities. It changes your whole perspective in life as you learn to appreciate life.
What do you think the future of modelling for women of colour?
I think the future for women of colour in the modelling industry is bright. People like Naomi Campbell, Imaan, Tyra Banks and Alek Wek have made a huge statement in the fashion industry, they have said that black women can model too, we can have long lasting successful modelling careers, and we can take amazing photos and have fierce walks on the runway. These black supermodels have opened the door for many young black top models such as Jordun Dunn, Sessile Lopez and Chanel Iman who are constantly exposed in top magazines such as Vogue and ID. They also model and walk for top campaigns such Burberry, Prada and Victoria Secret. I think it is hard for any black person to get to the top of any career and be the best, however seeing these models inspires me and gives me hope, it shows me that there is a place for me in the modelling industry but takes hard work.
Who is your favourite designer?
I love the quirky London look, the edgy “I can wear whatever I want” look. Vivenne Westwood is amazing she breaks all barriers in fashion by creating her own unique style and completely thinking out of the box, Westwood definitely represents London fashion. I love John Galliano’s couture collection, it’s so creative and full of life, I am upset about his recent racist allegations but I do believe everyone should accept their actions and face the consequences. I love shopping with high street brands such as Top Shop, they cater a lot to models, I tend to get most of my casting clothes from there, it’s affordable and in trend. I am currently obsessed with the Nigerian designer Zedeye’s (www.zedeye.com) Spring/Summer 2011 collection; it’s bright, colourful and ethnic. Modelling Zedeye’s clothes or even wearing it makes me feel happy as not only is it in season but I feel like I am representing Africa in a very fashionable way with her amazing fur jackets, and summer dresses with the tribal prints. She is definitely a designer to look out for.
Who inspires you?
Supermodel Imaan inspires me, her life, her journey and her achievements. Imaan went from an ambassador’s child living a well off lifestyle and literally over night turned into a refugee fleeing the civil war in Somalia. She was spotted by a photographer who brought her into the US and the rest is history. Imaan became one of the first iconic black supermodels, who changed the way people in the fashion industry think. She used her power in the modelling industry to create an empire, a business and a household name. Imaan’s cosmetic range is for women of colour and is distributed globally. She has established charities in Africa, and is currently working extremely hard to reduce the number of rape victims in Congo. Imaan will always be recognised for her good will and the way she gives back to Africa. She has inspired me in many different ways and has taught me that one person can make a change.
How do you enjoy a perfect social outing?
I am a very chilled person so my perfect outing would actually be staying indoors. I love reading, writing or watching DVD’s in my bed; I would say that I have had my time of partying even though I am quite young. I am very focused right now, sacrificing the clubs for my career, however if I do end up going out then it would most definitely be to a networking event where I would most probably promote myself and get some contacts or I would go support my friend Natalie May perform her new single “Closer”. I enjoy going to quite sociable bars in Shoreditch and Old street or sometimes I like watching live performances in Jazz Cafe’s or Proud Gallery in Camden. It may sound boring but like I said I am a very chilled out mellow person so I tend to enjoy myself a lot in these kind or areas.
What is your favourite store in London?
My favourite store in London is Westfield’s in White City. It is the best place to be, you can buy everything from food, drinks and clothes, what more do you need. Also if you’re lucky you might meet someone that inspires you as everyone goes there.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
In ten years time I want to be successful in my modelling career, I would like to be recognised internationally for my talent and hard-work that I put into my career. I would also like to have paved the way from many other young black models. In the near future I want to see more of them, black is definitely beautiful. I am currently involved in a charity called The Mad Experience, which was created by a group of young adults including myself who all share the same dream of becoming successful. The charity sets up workshops and high impact sessions in schools to educate, influence and inspire young pupils that are interested in starting out in the creative industries. The aim is to get young teenagers to start thinking about their futures and start working towards their careers from now. We want them to believe that they can achieve anything they want to in life if they put the work into it. I hope in the near future the charity is still going strong and would have expanded to schools all over the UK. In ten years time I want to have established charities in Africa to help with the development of countries in poverty and to promote and expose Africa for its positivity through fashion, the media and my modelling. I am aware that my modelling career may not always last as long as many other careers, it could at times be short lived, so in ten years time I would like to have established a business. If I ever reach a point in my career where I feel I have made enough money to invest in a business, I would definitely get involved in property development. I would love to own properties not just in the UK but around the world. It is not as easy as it sounds so I try taking the time out to research the steps to take to get there and also start saving from now.
Any words of advice for a young lady who aspires to be a model?
Research and understanding the industry is the key. It will be a huge bonus for you when you’re going to castings or meeting clients to actually know what you’re talking about, you will definitely stand out from others. Research who inspires you in the modelling industry, find out how they got there and the steps they took, from this you can create a guideline to structure and plan the steps you can take to fulfil your ambition. Highlight your strongest areas in modelling and pursue this, whether its editorial/high fashion, magazines, catwalk and fashion shows, commercials or campaigns.
You need to get your foot in the door; the best way in doing that is by pushing your strongest talent. Once you have established and made a name for yourself you can always branch off and do other things. Know your market and your season; there is no point in attending 100 castings if they are not looking for a black model. Research where black models are currently doing well or are always needed. For example, New York is an amazing market for black models, if London is not interested go to New York, Paris, Milan or Cape Town.
Don’t restrict yourself to one country and never believe that if one says no then you will never make it. Remember the modelling industry is worldwide, and the fashion industry has seasons, one season they may be looking for just blonde girls in London and in Paris they may be looking for black. Know your market, find out where you will do best and be available and ready for when they are looking for you. Finally never give up, those who fail are the ones that turn their back on hope, remember hard work always pays off. So if modelling is your dream and you wish to pursue this professional career, stay motivated, stay committed and stay inspired. “Without inspiration the best powers of the mind remain dormant. There is a fuel in us which needs to be ignited with sparks.” Johann Gottfried Von Herder.
Red ethnic print short dress with floral detail. £100
Photographer: Sophie | The Promota 07790647089
Makeup artist: Bridget Yankson – 0740 347 7185
You can find me on facebook Samira Hashi or twitter @SamiraModel