01 January 2007

Inner Sparkle Featured

Written by Published in Issue 1 - Reversing the Order Read 45484 times

Model used to be shorthand for airhead. Now there’s a new generation of fashionistas who are trying to change things other than their clothes. Sudanese born supermodel Alek Wek leads this gentle revolution. She tells Sublime why being smart is more than a pose

Very briefly, Alek Wek is almost a refugee again. In early December, the supermodel spends a troubled Monday night in a London hotel, her passport too full to take a visa and her local British consulate in New York unwilling or unable to issue a new one. She has to return to London for an 8 a.m. meeting at the passport agency, and she hardly sleeps the night before. She’s convinced the wake-up call hasn’t been set and she’ll rise too late, miss her meeting and maybe lose her precious passport. For someone who has been a refugee, the loss of this document is more than an irritation. It’s a reminder of how it feels to be stateless and on the run.

Of course her story has a happy ending. The passport is issued and the visa for Nigeria is firmly stamped on a virgin page. It’s another lucky break for a woman with unusual fortune. Most of the time, the world falls into place for her in a miraculous way. As a child, Alek and her family fled the civil war in Sudan – a war whose brutal embers continue to smoulder, claiming hundreds of lives every month. Her flight brought her to London, to the attention of the fashion world, to supermodel status and to success and riches beyond any Sudanese village girl’s wildest dreams. But it also stole her father, and that seems too high a price to pay...

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