Move over Naomi Campbell! It’s time for Barking model Malaika Firth to come into Vogue
PUBLISHED: 16:11 07 October 2013 | UPDATED: 14:49 08 October 2013
Move over Naomi Campbell, there’s a new face for fashion giant Prada and it’s that of 19-year-old Malaika Firth.
Kenyan-born Malaika grew up at Wheeler’s Cross, Barking after moving with her family aged seven.
Now the mixed-race model, who studied at Eastbury Comprehensive sixth form, graces the cover of Vogue’s ‘More Dash Than Cash’ supplement with the November issue of the monthly women’s fashion favourite.
Described as “slight with wide-set eyes and inconceivably balletic legs” by the magazine, Malaika is only the second black “face of Prada,” the first being supermodel Naomi Campbell.
As a result she has stirred the ongoing debate about racism in fashion with calls already being made for more black women to appear on catwalks.
“I’m proud that I’m the second black [Prada] model, but also I’m biracial. It’s a positive that I’m not white and I’m not black,” she said.
Photographer Steven Meisel helped hurl Malaika into the fashion spotlight after he photographed her for Prada’s autumn/winter 2013 campaign.
But, said the model, her early life going to modelling auditions as a 16-year-old was a tale of rejection.
“I was going to castings with my mum and I’d cry and cry when I didn’t get selected,” said Malaika. “You have to grow up pretty quickly.”
A devoted Christian, the Mombasa beauty told Vogue that she and her mother pray together, adding: “God keeps me on a straight path.”
That’s not to say she has always had a God-given fashion sense, however. “Before I started modelling, I wasn’t obsessed with fashion; I just did my own thing,” she said, admitting that sometimes meant mixing purple and orange.
Nowadays Malaika, who lives in Camden and is currently reading the Bible cover to cover, is a consummate fashion professional. She told Vogue: “I always take off my make-up [when I get home]. My face is my job.”
• See the full shoot in the ‘More Dash Than Cash’ supplement which comes alongside the November issue of Vogue, on sale now.
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