Kenyan Model – Malaika Firth – face of Prada & Valentino’s Spring/Summer 2014 Ad Campaign

BY EVE CHEGE & ELi CHEP

Malaika Firth on Burberry Spring/Summer 2014 for Vogue
Malaika Firth on Burberry Spring/Summer 2014 for Vogue

African models across the world are getting huge reviews in 2014 & if we are going to make a list of African models already “getting it” in 2014, Kenyan model, Malaika Firth, will definitely be one of them. She is the first black model featured in a Prada ad campaign since Naomi Campbell in 1994.

Fashion Label Prada hadn’t featured a black model for any of their campaigns in 19 years! The last time that this fashion label featured a black model was in 1994 and it was supermodel Naomi Campbell. This is basically the time around when Malaika was born. In their fall 2013 campaign, Prada featured Malaika Firth. She is a Kenyan Born UK-raised 19 year old girl who seems to be doing really well in the fashion world.

The Kenyan model is currently being featured in Italian high fashion brand, Valentino‘s Spring/Summer 2014 ad campaign alongside other high fashion models where she’s shot in a desert in beautiful Valentino couture featuring floral lace, geometric prints, leopard skin and more. Looking like a Victorian/Egyptian goddess in an embroidered lace dress with gold accessories, the nineteen year old oozes grace and power.

The Kenyan-born British fashion model poses in a red lacy look, and drips in gold jewellery including a headband, glittering bracelets and chain necklaces.

The name Malaika is Swahili for Angel and from the photos, you can tell that this beautiful young woman is a real angel. Malaika has also to her portfolio done spreads for Burberry Prorsum and Asos fashion brands via ASOS online store and she has also appeared on Roller Coaster, Vogue UK Nov 2013 Cover, Tank and i-D magazines.

Last year and earlier this year, Malaika was spotted in other ad campaigns for Prada, Burberry and more. Some of her work this year – Prada Resort 2014 runway, Burberry Spring 2014 campaign, Valentino Spring 2014 runway, Salvatore Ferragamo Spring 2014 runway, Tommy Hilfiger Spring 2014 runway, and Dolce & Gabbana Spring 2014 runway.

The 19-year-old Londoner, who has been compared to Naomi Campbell, said she was reduced to tears at castings until she learned “how to become comfortable in my own skin”.

Malaika Firth was born in Kenya and raised in East London, and currently lives in Camden where she started modeling at the age of 16, after watching an episode of The Model Agency — a documentary about the Premier agency.

Thanks to her mother Jacinta, who took her to Premier Model Management where she was booked on the spot by Carol White, the founder, who is also credited with discovering Naomi Campbell. Carol said that she was drawn to Malaika by her exotic bone structure, almond eyes, caramel-kissed skin tone, and unruly locks.

MalaikaFirthMalaika owes her exotic looks to her Kenyan and British heritage. Malaika, who initially wanted to be an actor before she was signed told replay254 in a phone interview, “I feel great, ecstatic, I feel so blessed having done a Prada campaign.”

“I couldn’t believe it; I rushed to my mum and said, ‘Is this really happening?’ She said it was “great” to follow in the footsteps of Campbell, who was “an inspiration to lots of girls”. She added: “It’s important because I’m mixed … British and Kenyan, I think it’s amazing I can bring both together.

Born to British father and a Kenyan mother in Mombasa, her heritage also fuses Ugandan, Seychellois and Swiss blood. Malaika visits her home country Kenya often. She says that she can never forget where she comes from. During the phone interview with replay254 she said, “Whenever I go to Kenya I never forget to buy clothes and toys because near where my family lives there is a tribe called ‘The Giriamas,’ they live in tiny huts, so it’s great to go and share the clothes and sweets with the children.”

When she feels anxious she speaks to her mother on the phone, and the pair also pray together. “God keeps me on a straight path,” she says.

She now models full-time – most recently walking in the Prada menswear show (wearing the women’s Resort line), and looks up to fellow black British model Jourdan Dunn: “[She] has inspired me the most, just because of how down to earth she is as a person. I love her drive and passion for modelling as well.”

Malaika is already being dubbed as the next Naomi Campbell, with definitely a lot of new opportunities waiting for her.

For more details on Malaika Firth, follow her on Twitter: @malaikafirth

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