Agbani Darego – The First African Miss World

As a child, whenever school was out for the summer and I was free to wear my hair however I pleased, I always wanted to rock the Agbani Darego hairstyle. Needless to say, my eight year old self did not know the significance of the hairstyle I so craved. I had no idea it was someone’s name, let alone that the name was that of the first Miss World of African descent.

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Agbani Darego brought ponytails to Nigeria in the early 2000s and her signature updo allowed many Nigerian women and girls to embrace their five heads!

Born to a family of eight in the capital city of Lagos, Darego’s childhood was molded by the resilience of her mother who died when she was 12. She later attended the University of Port Harcourt where she majored in computer science and mathematics.

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In 2001, she was crowned the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria, and then she went on to become one of the first Nigerians to place in the top 10 of the Miss Universe competition.

In that same year, Darego competed in the Miss World pageant and won the title. This win was groundbreaking because she became the first native African to win the Miss World title.

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After winning Miss World, Darego landed a three year contract with L’Oreal. This made her the second black model to do that after Vanessa Williams. Darego has modeled for many magazines such as Elle, Marie Claire, Allure, Trace, Cosmopolitan, and Essence. 

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In addition to working in the fashion industry as a model, Darego also got a chance to experience the flip side of fashion. She has judged fashion and modeling competitions such as Miss World in 2014 and Elite Model Look Nigeria in 2012 and 2014. In addition, she has a line of denim, AD by Agbani Darego in 2014, which has since expanded to include sunglasses and bags. Darego was recently a guest speaker at the Luxury Africa Connect conference in Paris during the SS18 fashion week. Her crowning as Miss World and then transition from model to fashion entrepreneur continues to inspire many Nigerian girls to achieve the impossible.

Author: Mayowa Ige

Mayowa is an effervescent and passionate Nigerian fashionista bathed in SoCal sunshine. Often spotted with a striking purple lip and a fierce leather jacket, she is unapologetically honest and will tell you if your brows scream S.O.S. to leave you unabashedly on fleek. Follow her adventures @emirestudios

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