Aaron Philip is killing the game, and at the age of 18 has already built up hype and clout in an industry where room is not easily made for new points of view.
Aaron Philip looks like the future of fashion. During her recent runway debut for Willie Norris Workshop, she made her way down the catwalk in a killer bob with the words “queer capital” emblazoned on the jumper draped across the back of her wheelchair. The crowd were ecstatic, applauding and calling out “legend” as the rising star achieved her goal of becoming a runway model.
The young model is a trailblazer who is determined to make a name for herself, and to prove that there is space to be made for other black, transgender and disabled models in the fashion industry.
But she had to start from the bottom, and over the past few years Aaron has been using social media to promote her work, get her name out there and manifest her goals. In 2017 she posted headshots to Twitter and proclaimed to her ever-growing followers list “when i get scouted/discovered by a modelling agency it’s OVER for y’all!” She then worked her way into the spotlight by freelancing, and within a year had shoots with the likes of ASOS, H&M and LGBTQ+ magazine Them under her belt. During this time, she sorted out everything from her bookings to her budgets by herself.
Her prediction later came true in August 2018 when she was signed to Elite Model Management, which has managed everyone from Tyra Banks to Cara Delevingne. Since then has done campaigns for Sephora and Dove, and been featured in magazines such as i-D and Dazed. For such a young model whose only platform is the one she has made for herself, these are all incredible feats.
She’s not just getting work though – she’s getting noticed. Last year she was named as one of the Business of Fashion’s top 500 most influential people, starred in Miley Cyrus’ music video for her single Mother’s Daughter, and was interviewed by none other than fashion legend Naomi Campbell.
During the interview, the two discussed their journeys as black women carving a space for themselves on fashion’s massive but notoriously unrepresentative stage. As with Naomi, such work inevitably leaves an indelible mark and, in an environment with such wide cultural influence, has the potential to redefine narrow notions of beauty.
What would fashion be without Naomi? And what might it be with Aaron? If the young model’s current trajectory is anything to go by, we can expect some long-overdue, seismic shifts to occur in the industry over the course of her career.
Excitingly, we may not have to wait long to find out what they might be. Posting the video of her runway debut again this week to Twitter and Instagram, she teased that “fashion week/month is coming”, with a winking face emoji that suggests the next big thing for Aaron may be coming soon.
It’s exciting watching a star rise. In Aaron’s case, her success also speaks to what that intoxicating mixture of talent, determination and self-actualisation can accomplish.
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