DUBAI: US-Somali model Halima Aden was honored at the Heirs of Afrika 2021 International Women of Power event in Los Angeles this week.
Heirs of Afrika, founded by Ghanaian-American media executive Koshie Mills, celebrates black women who are agents of change in entertainment, fashion, beauty and business.
Aden received the Fashion Queen honor.
“This fierce talent has not only overcome adversity but also triumphed and broken barriers for other young black women around the world,” said Heirs of Afrika.
Aden was joined at the 4th edition of the annual event, hosted by Grammy-winning artist Michelle Williams, by US Representative Maxine Waters, actor Kofi Siroboe and entrepreneur Alexis Kerr.
Ahead of the awards ceremony, guests hit the red carpet dressed to impress, with some opting for African-inspired outfits.
Aden kept it simple and streamlined with a black, long-sleeve top tucked into a pair of high-waisted, button-up trousers and nude pumps.
Once inside the venue, guests were treated to dinner as they enjoyed a series of performances and awards presentations.
Aden follows in the footsteps of previous award recipients such as actresses Tiffany Haddish, Rosario Dawson and Ryan Destiny.
The UNICEF ambassador certainly deserves the fashion queen title. Her inspiring story began in a Kenyan refugee camp, where she was raised before emigrating to the US with her family at age 7.
Aden went on to make headlines as the first woman to wear a hijab in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, where she was a semi-finalist. The Muslim model was also the first contestant to wear a hijab throughout the competition and the first to favor a burkini during the contest’s swimsuit round.
Shortly afterwards, she made history as the first hijab-wearing model in New York Fashion Week after she made her runway debut in 2017 at the Yeezy Season 5 show.
It was the Minnesota-based model and humanitarian’s first red carpet appearance since taking a step back from the fashion industry in November 2020. The 23-year-old made the decision to walk away from the industry, claiming that it did not align with her faith.
Aden added a clause to her contract with IMG Models to ensure she would never have to remove her hijab.
“My mom asked me to quit modeling a long time ago. I wish I wasn’t so defensive,’’ Aden wrote in a lengthy Instagram post detailing why she decided to step back from modeling. “Thanks to COVID-19 and the breakaway from the industry, I have finally realized where I went wrong on my hijab journey.’’
She received support online from part-Palestinian model sisters Bella and Gigi Hadid, and from Barbadian singer and fashion designer Rihanna, who tapped Aden to star in the first Fenty Beauty video campaign.