Fendi Sent its First Muslim, Hijab-Wearing Model Down the Runway


It was the first show for Fendi without late designer Karl Lagerfeld (although to his credit, he made sure one of the last things he did was leave instructions for the house’s more recent collection), giving Silvia Venturini Fendi the reins of the brand. In a move embracing diversity, inclusivity, and fashion’s continued, albeit slow embrace of different cultures and nationalities, Fendi sent its first Muslim, hijab-wearing model down the runway for Fall/Winter 2019.

Born in Somalia, 18-year-old Ugbad Abdi and her family fled to Kenya to escape the ongoing civil war in her home country, spending time in a refugee camp, before moving to the U.S. when Abdi was nine. Signed to Next and Evolve Models, Abdi has quickly become one of the most prominent breakout models of the season, appearing on the catwalks of Marc Jacobs, Burberry, Simone Rocha, and Victoria Beckham.

Although the fashion industry has gradually moved the needle toward inclusivity in seasons past, it’s a first for the storied Italian house, whose adherence to fine craftsmanship and penchant for logo-mania have been heralded above an affinity for catering to trends. The most recent collection featured luscious silks and sturdy, structured leathers on models that worked closely with Lagerfeld throughout his career such as Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kaia Gerber, and Adowa Aboah, among others.

“Love KL” was etched in a fluid signature style at the back of the runway as the models walked out. Additionally, guests were given press notes featuring a commemorative sketch from Lagerfeld’s final collection marked with the date of his passing. Immediately following the show, Fendi uploaded a tribute video to Lagerfeld drawing himself on his first day working at the house 54 years ago.

Perhaps its the signal for what to come for Fendi and what Lagerfeld had envisioned for the house before his death on Tuesday.


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