In the first few weeks of 2022, Adut Akech dropped a British Vogue cover, opened the Chanel Haute Couture Spring 2022 show and released a new campaign for Estée Lauder, for which she's been a global ambassador for just a little over six months. That's impressive for anyone — but it's unsurprising if you've been following the 22-year-old's prolific career, which really exploded when she got Saint Laurent exclusive back in Spring 2017 and now spans everything from runway to long-term brand deals.
"It's a great team to be a part of. I'm really excited and happy to be here," she says of working with Estée Lauder. "It's a dream for us [to have an ambassadorship]. Long-term partnerships are great because you really get to establish a relationship with the people that you work with. You don't want to come in, get used to the team, love everybody and then a year later, you've got to go and start all over again somewhere."
Akech is "a relationship kind of girl," she explains — a theme that becomes pretty apparent when you look at the grand scheme of career, which spans pretty much every medium a model works in: runway, editorial, campaign and brand deals. Last year, in addition to signing with Estée Lauder, she became a founding member of Victoria's Secret's VS Collective; before that, she'd been a longstanding muse of Pierpaolo Piccioli at Valentino, becoming a regular on his runways and acting as the face of the Born in Roma fragrance.
"I have to believe in the brand that I'm working with, the people, the product… I like working with people that I actually like," Akech says of how she determines who she aligns with professionally. "It makes my job easier, and it makes me enjoy my job a lot more when it's with a good team, an understanding team, a team that gets me, a team that make me feel wanted there and appreciate me and respect me. I have that with every brand that I work with — that's why you see me working with them."
When it comes to the partnership with Estée Lauder, she says: "Now that I'm in it, with years to build and grow and do so much with this team… I love that. I've loved every campaign I've shot — the shooting process, the people I've shot with and worked with, from the photographers to the makeup artists to the models. We've got an exciting project coming out soon, and that has been very, very exciting for me."
Akech will not divulge what said exciting project (a consummate professional), but she will gladly talk about one of the perks that comes with this kind of deal.
"I remember, my first big box of Estée products, I gave so much to my friends and sent some to Australia for my sister and my mom," she says. As far as favorites go, consider her quick-trip toiletry bag essentials: "I'm taking my Estée Lauder Lip Oil, my Estée Lauder DayWear Sorbet Creme with SPF because there's already sunscreen in it, my Cetaphil body creme, and my Valentino perfume."
Hot off the Haute Couture shows in Paris, Akech is gearing up for another fashion month cycle. Over the past few years, she's also become an exciting sartorial force on the red carpet, from walking up the Met Gala steps on Piccioli's arm in a pink Valentino confection to, most recently, presenting at the 2021 Fashion Awards in custom Sergio Hudson.
"I've never worn a purple outfit before, so that was a bit risky for me, but I really loved it," she says of the one-shouldered, cutout gown. "It was a beautiful dress. Me and my stylists, Wayman and Micah, worked on that with Sergio Hudson and made it to fit me, my personal style and my preference."
Akech's worked with Wayman and Micah on a handful of looks, for both the red carpet and street style. "They're just sweet guys. They're my friends," she says. "I love clothes, and they’re good at what they do. We just decided to, every once in a while, dress up and go out... They listen to me. They understand me. They know what I like. Really, it's just them bringing me what they know I'm going to like, and we take it from there. The whole process is fun, from when we have an event and we're going through the looks… It's a moment you don't get to have with stylists on a shoot or on a runway."
The model's style is always evolving, she concedes — however, lately (and like most of us), she's really been leaning into comfort dressing.
"I'm choosing a sneaker, Air Force 1s over high heels any day, and I'm putting them on with a loose dress," she says. "It's all about comfort. Every once in a while, I'll dress up and I'll put on a nice bodycon dress and some high heels. I'll wear pajamas to work, but I make it fashion by putting on some Versace high heels and a white coat. I love clothes, and I'm just experimenting with."
There's a lot to come from Akech this year — this month, even. She has a lot to be proud of, including: "everything that I’ve been able to do, all of my personal goals that I've set for myself that I've been able to achieve."
"I'm now that figure, that role model that I didn’t see myself. I'm now that for other girls and my little sister," she says. "I'm proud of everything that I've done, everything I’ve got going on right now and everything that's coming."
Please note: Occasionally, we use affiliate links on our site. This in no way affects our editorial decision-making.