ENIOLA ABIORO, THE FIRST-EVER NIGERIAN TO WALK PRADA.

Several months before making her international debut as an exclusive on Miuccia Prada's Milan runway, the 19-year-old was working as a kindergarten teacher back in her hometown of Lagos, where she was discovered by local agency Few, then quickly signed by Next worldwide. The rest is history.

Abioro was working as a teacher when she was approached by Bolajo Fawehinmi, founder of the Lagos agency Few Models, in July of 2017. She then had to convince her loved ones that her new opportunity was actually legitimate. “At first, they were like, ‘Modeling is prostitution, don’t go into it,’ ” Abioro says. Her friends and family warned her about scams and predatory tactics. Deciding to take a chance after doing her research, however, she landed a contract with Next Model Management and internationally debuted at Prada’s Fall 2018 show. Quickly becoming one of the season’s most in-demand faces, Abioro’s success managed to change the minds of even her most skeptical family members. “[Now] they are so happy for me, being the first girl to leave the country in my family. They are all proud,” she says.

Prada Fall 2018 Prada’s fall 2018.

While working with some of the world’s biggest brands, Abioro admits to feeling like she’s stepped into a dream. She grew up trading styling tips with friends and reading fashion magazines, but diving headfirst into the business has been an unexpected adventure. “Fashion is art on an upgraded level. It is amazing how I didn’t see [that] until I found myself in the midst of it all,” says Abioro. “From the outside, I thought the industry would be far more mechanical, but getting into it and finding out more about the designers and fabrics has been wonderful.” Already working with some of her personal heroes—Miuccia Prada, Pat McGrath, and Alek Wek among them—Abioro is eager for what comes next. “I want to know more,” she says. “I want to keep on learning about [fashion], I want to have it running through my veins!”

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