Welcome to the most exciting edition of Who What Wear UK’s Best Wardrobes in Britain to date. It’s where we do exactly what that title says on the tin: delve into the most fantastical, awe-inspiring and downright influential wardrobes in this fair country of ours. We’re zeroing in on the girls who cause the street style photographers to press their shutters as well as the women you don’t yet know—the ones who fly under the radar with secretly incredible clothing collections.
You no doubt recognise the striking face staring back at you—it’s none other than the award-winning, trailblazing British mega-model Adwoa Aboah. Her cheekbones are as sharp as her activism credentials, her personal style as eclectic and witty as her 537,000-strong Instagram following. And after gracing the cover of British Vogue, walking countless high-profile fashion-month runways and securing major campaign deals with the likes of Ugg and Burberry, she was gracious enough to invite us to her Brooklyn apartment, where we were lucky enough to see how the girl who defines an era actually gets dressed each day. Sure, we know Best Wardrobes in Britain is usually photographed on our home turf, but no one represents London girls across the world quite like Adwoa—and who were we to turn down such an offer? Keep reading to jump into her wild and wonderful wardrobe.
Do you have a first fashion memory?
First fashion memory—hmm. Not particularly a first one, but an important one was my first kind of parties when I was younger, and going into Topshop and going to those high-street stores with my mum and picking out a particular dress. Like all of those dresses, I still have now.
Was there a particular moment when you knew you wanted to model?
I have always loved clothes and always loved fashion, but I didn’t necessarily think that would be my journey. Then I’d been scouted a few times. I wasn’t that interested in it, and then I just did a few jobs here and there, and it was more so [about] being independent that really brought me to modelling. I just really wanted to be able to do what I wanted to do and be financially independent.
Phill Taylor; On Adwoa: Ashley Williams dress
You’re obviously styled up a lot for shoots and show, but how do you get dressed every morning by yourself?
I think about it in the shower. And then if it’s not fashion week, I don’t really care. I put on a tracksuit, like, most days if it’s cold. But now as it’s fashion week, I kind of have to try a little bit harder—or just not wear tracksuits every day! So I think about it sometimes even before I go to sleep, or in the shower, and then I just go with it. I just put on anything.
I love dressing up, especially as I think my style is kind of mad all the time, and it goes and changes all the time, and I’m not scared of trying different things. So when it comes to the evening or a party, I just like go full force. Get the gowns out! I’m always saving things—there are a lot of clothes I haven’t worn that I’m saving for particular events or birthday parties or weddings.
Everyone seems to hate describing their own style—so what words do you think your family and friends might use to explain it?
Quite out-there. Just a lot of layers. Um, nothing ever really matches.
Have you always been like that?
[It happened] later on. I always—no, it’s definitely always been later on. But now I don’t really care whether people like what I wear or not. Before I kind of loved clothes, but my style was a lot simpler.
There was a time in modelling where models were required to be a blank canvases and dress really plainly. Now it’s more about individuality, right?
I never did that. I was never going to do that model uniform. I don’t think anyone has ever seen me in a pair of black skinny jeans in my life. I’m just not going to wear that!
Can you remember any particular fashion phases that you look back on fondly and love/can’t help but laugh about/can’t believe you ever tried?
I think when I was trying to copy [others]; I always find those bits a bit cringe. I kind of like the mistakes, though. I like that there were certain dresses that I wore to events that were a bit odd, but that’s fine as well. Definitely when I was at school, I was pulling a few weird looks. I’m not sure whether they were good.
What’s your favourite way to shop?
Randomly. Spontaneously and by myself. It’s usually in between something or when I’m walking somewhere, or when I’m back home walking from my gym to the subway, I might pass somewhere and just go in.
What would you say is the single most important piece in your wardrobe?
It would be my Prada coat. The red shearling one [from A/W 14].
Is there anything you keep buying, no matter how many of them you may have already?
Hoodies. Tracksuits. I just can’t—I’ve got so many hoodies. And shoes. It’s an issue, a real issue. I love them so much.
What was the last thing you bought?
A pair of Balenciaga trainers. I have a link in Paris. She’s my friend from the shop. You’ve got to make friends with people in the shops, and then I literally can just DM her and WhatsApp her, and she’ll tell me [something is] coming in now and it’s from the new collection.
Do you share clothes with anyone?
I don’t borrow that many people’s clothes. I borrow bits and bobs—like my mum’s got an amazing collection of some of her old pieces she used to wear ages ago, and sometimes I’ll borrow a shirt or something, and she doesn’t like it. I let [my sister] Kesewa and [my friend] Alowea borrow my clothes. I’m quite easy on lending—I will just make sure I get them back. But there are a few things I would rather not lend.
What is your happy outfit?
When I’m feeling good, it’s very colourful. But a tracksuit just makes me feel really cosy. And heels. I always really like wearing heels. I don’t wear them that often—I don’t wear them during the day or anything, but I love wearing a high pair of heels in the evening.
We’re looking at change makers in the industry this month and completely see you as one—but who would you credit as someone creating change and good in this business right now?
Can you tell me about the point when you co-founded Gurls Talk community and your advocacy work for mental health stated to meet your modelling career?
Well, Gurls Talk started when I had taken some time off from modelling, so Gurls Talk started before this whole kind of madness began—the madness I’m very grateful for. But now Gurls Talk has really been a catalyst in my career in doing well, I believe. And now they work really well together in terms of the people I’ve been able to meet and also having this platform that has been given to me through modelling that I’ve been able to use for Gurls Talk. And now being an ambassador for the British Fashion Council and Positive Fashion [Committee], I’m able to do more of the work I do within activism also inside of the fashion industry.
Who do you follow on Instagram?
What’s your view on the fashion industry as a whole in 2018? Any particular aims, ambitions or hopes?
I would like to start training for acting again, which I’m going to do. I would like to continue, not necessarily cause it’s the end of Burberry soon [Ed. note: Creative director and friend Christopher Bailey is exiting the brand], but something similar—being more involved in the creative, whether that be designing a collection with someone, and I would like to do some more work with Save the Children, and carry on with Gurls Talk. I’ve become an ambassador for Save the Children—we did a trip. I went to Uganda with them last year, and I’m going to do another trip with them and some more work. And then what else? Yep, that’s it.
That sounds like enough to fill the hours. Thanks for having us, Adwoa!