JOHANNESBURG – If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then the United Colors Of Fashion (UCOF) 2012 Annual Gala and International Fashion Benefit would have opened even the most reluctant eyes to see. The UCOF benefit was held on October the 17th, at the Museum of the City of New York and themed as: “Be Glamorous, Glamor Gives”. When the call for giving went out, there was no lack of glamorous responses from industry legends such as Pat Cleveland and current runway divas such as Ajak Deng and Sessilee Lopez. Currently the hottest accessories to the runway, Deng and Lopez opened their hearts with thrilling enthusiasm to help the cause of UCOF by walking in our fashion show on the night.
The Gala was held in aid of our mission to raise funds for people with HIV at Soweto Hospice in Johannesburg, South Africa. UCOF also raises funds and awareness for sickle cell anemia and paralysis. We will visit South Africa in March, 2013 to spend time delivering gifts, handing over donations and engaging with patients at Soweto Hospice and the children at the associated Mapetla Day Care Center.
Ajak Deng, a Sudanese sensation, changed the landscape of the fashion industry when she was signed to IMG models in 2009. Bringing a new look to the “white washed’ runways and magazine covers the world has become accustomed to. She has walked for: Marc Jacobs, Naeem Khan, Isaac Mizrahi, Rachel Roy, Valentino, Maison Martin Margiela, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, Lanvin and Chloe.
When Vogue Italia shot their “All Black” editorial, Ajak Deng was an obvious choice to be featured along with the world’s most renowned black supermodels. As the many that have gone before her, she walks the path they paved and reintroduces black beauty to the world.
Also a gem of IMG models, Sessilee Lopez who is a beauty of Dominican and Portuguese descent, has walked the runways for designers such as Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, Karl Lagerfeld, Lanvin, Hermès as well as walking in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in 2008 and 2009.
She also graced the cover of one of the four “All Black” issues of Vogue Italia, while Naomi Campbell, Jourdan Dunn and Liya Kebede graced the other three. Bringing a mixed heritage with her, she earnestly diversifies the fashion industry with an exotic energy.
Despite being at the epicenter of the glamorous fashion world, Deng and Lopez still have an awareness of those less fortunate and humbly dedicated their time and beauty to UCOF. We are eternally grateful to have witnessed the grace of their work under the banner of our humble mission. These ladies contribute to the daily renewal of hope we experience at UCOF when so many beautiful gestures of assistance are offered unto us. More than us, these gestures will enrich the lives of so many adults and children that have only a smile to give in return. Those smiles are forever imprinted in our hearts, embraced by our mission and directed at our many supporters.
It was an honor to have had Ajak Deng and Sessilee Lopez as a part of our annual Gala and we thank them abundantly.
Jamil Khan is a Psychology graduate from Stellenbosch University with a keen interest in fashion, social upliftment and research. He is a United Colors Of Fashion press intern based in Johannesburg, South Africa.