Lindex interview with Alek Wek
How has it been working with Lindex on this shoot?
A completely positive experience as the brand has such a rich history of championing women, but also of working with iconic women who actually walk the walk. Lindex put together an exceptional team who were a joy to work with and the atmosphere on set was inspiring and a lot of fun.
Lindex have been supporting the fight against breast cancer for many years, what does Breast Cancer Awareness mean to you?
For me the term represents a historical movement that actively encourages women to be aware of any changes to their breasts – and this ultimately represents a real opportunity to notice changes early – thereby giving you a significant chance to deal with the disease in its early stages.
Which is your favorite piece or outfit from Lindex Pink Collection?
The collection is great, there are so many pieces I like! I loved wearing the burgundy A-line fake leather skirt together with the cosy dusty pink sweater.
Which is your favorite piece or outfit from Lindex Fall Fashion Heroes campaign collection?
The collection is great, there are so many pieces I like and it is all ultimately very well designed and very wearable.
How do you see that the fashion world is embracing diversity at the moment?
Fashion has an influential place in the world offering girls like me a unique platform to voice my support for the causes I feel are important. When I started as a model at the age of 19 there were very few girls of diversity walking the runways or starring on covers. What I see now are women from all cultures, and across various industries making their impact felt. The opportunities within the digital space have made the world more democratic and I feel that brands have embraced these opportunities to work with more diverse talent and voices.
How do you think style and fashion can empower women to look and feel good?
When I was a little girl growing up in South Sudan, I remember my mother encouraging us to dress well and to have respect for the clothes she bought us. We didn’t buy clothes from a shop, my mother had all our clothes made by a local seamstress – and we were allowed to choose the fabrics and colours. We were not wealthy by any standard but this was the most economical way for my mother. I was aware then of the power of wearing something special and the value of having well made clothes. When I started modeling my experience afforded me even greater insights as I worked with some exceptional designers and I have learnt to love and admire clothes that are consciously and beautifully designed and made.
How have your background affected your career?
I will never forget the struggles my family and hundreds of thousands of others experience as refugees. I think this early struggle, and losing my father at a young age, has made me humble and very appreciative of all the opportunities I have now. This is why I am determined to shed light on the plight of refugees all around the world – by using the platform I have as a model and through my work with the UNHCR.
What’s the best memory you have from you career?
So many incredible memories, but perhaps one of the earliest and best was when I shot with the legendary photographer Herb Ritts, who crested a series of portraits of me where he had me painted black and I was shot nude. The images set the benchmark for my career and brought me other opportunities.
How would you describe your personal style?
Vibrant, colourful, eclectic, a little unpredictable and very feminine. I like to mix things up with the choice of designers I wear, sometimes choosing a little known African or South American label mixed with some Ralph Lauren.
What is your best styling advice?
Dress well… Don’t be afraid to try something new but get to know yourself and what makes you feel confident and then have some fun and experiment.
When do you feel at your best?
When I eat, work, sleep and exercise well my self esteem is high, and I feel I am at my best and ready to give back.
What’s your beauty advice? Top three?
Yoga, lots of water and great beauty oils. I love Lulu oil products from South Africa and Aromatherapy Associates.
You travel a great deal – what are your tips on how and what to pack for the perfect weekend getaway bag?
Like a lot of seasoned models with many years of experience travelling, I now have this down to a fine art and I know what works. Starts by identifying the key occasions for your trip and pack the outfits that you can see yourself needing. Take key pieces which you know you will wear and that you really love wearing.
What are the things you love to do most with your friends and family?
I love spending time with my friends and family, and I love to invite them to my home in Brooklyn for a BBQ or to cook traditional recipes from South Sudan. Last week it was a slow cooked lamb stew with an okra vegetable dish on the side. I also make a delicious yellow lentil soup which is cooked in a light vegetable broth with spinach, chili, garlic and tiny tomatoes thrown in, it’s really yummy.
What is the biggest challenge combining private life and your work?
I think for me it is the constant travelling which can be unsettling for those closest to me, but I am grateful to have maintained a reasonable balance over the years and have solid friendships and relationships. I think the trick is not define yourself just through your work and to be 100% present with those nearest and dearest when you are spending time together.
What are you most happy about in your life?
I think for me it would have to be the opportunity I have to shed light on the causes I care deeply about. This has always been an incredible privilege for me, and one I am very conscious of. I also value my career and the opportunity to be an independent woman and for the gift of an independent life. These are things that I will never take for granted and which bring happiness.