The Internet couldn’t handle Ugbad Abdi’s debut in January. That’s because she looked totally gorgeous when she joined 42 other black models, including super Naomi Campbell, Alek Wek and Duckie Thot, for Pierpaolo Piccioli’s emotional spring 2019 Haute Couture show for Valentino. And the Somali, signed to Next and Evolve Models, recently made waves as Fendi’s first-ever hijabi-wearing model during Milan Fashion Week. Fendi, now under the rein of Silvia Venturini Fendi, joined other fashion houses championing inclusivity and diversity by sending the 180-cm. stunner down the runway in a glossy yellow and white shearling-lined jacket, black turtleneck top and grey trousers.
I just don’t even know where to begin with this one. I’m literally speechless. The energy in this room was like none other. Walking for @fendi @silviaventurinifendi and being the first hijab wearing woman to do so is just so incredibly unbelievable in itself but the fact that I walked in @karllagerfeld last collection with Fendi is.... words could never describe how I felt being so fortunate enough to walk in Karl’s last creations alongside such strong and incredible women. The fact that so many people including those who’ve never met Karl like me were so touched and inspired by him tells you how much of an icon he is. You will be missed by many, Rest easy
The 18-year-old Muslim was quick to share her excitement about walking the catwalk with models of the moment like Gigi and Bella Hadid. She also paid tribute to the label’s longstanding Creative Director, Karl Lagerfeld, who died just two days before the show. “Words could never describe how I felt being so fortunate enough to walk in Karl’s last creations alongside such strong and incredible women,” she wrote. “The fact that so many people including those who’ve never met Karl like me were so touched and inspired by him tells you how much of an icon he is. You will be missed by many, Rest easy.”
Abdi has quickly become one of the most noticeable breakout models of the season. She also appeared in another major show in Milan, Roberto Cavalli's. Plus, she opened Marc Jacobs’s show during the final stage of New York Fashion Week and had leading turns at Burberry, Simone Rocha and Victoria Beckham during London Fashion Week.
The up-and-coming model spent some time in a Kenyan refugee camp after fleeing her country with her family due to the civil war. She moved to the US when she was nine, settling in Iowa.