Ajak Deng Announces she is Retiring from Fashion

South Sudanese model Ajak Deng has announced she is retiring from international runways and moving back to Australia where her career started, for “the life that I fully deserved [sic]” in her own words. The model made the announcement today on her Instagram account 67.000+ followers.

The 26-year-old’s farewell comes following claims from her manager that his client does not have as much mainstream success as other US-based Australian models in Australian market because of her ‘dark skin’.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, FRM Model Management’s Stephen Bucknall said, “The budgets probably aren’t big enough for (Deng), because she’s a big money earner, but they will spend the money on a Miranda Kerr or a Jess Hart.”

Model Ajak Deng presents a creation for Dior during the Fall/Winter 2011-2012 Haute Couture collection show on July 4, 2011 in Paris. AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP / FRANCOIS GUILLOT

“The Australian market doesn’t want to take the risk of using darker models as mainstream models,” Bucknall continued, “But if you go to New York, you’ll see African American, Asian, and all these diverse cultures. Australia just doesn’t get it.”

Deng fled Sudan and came to Australia when she was 12 years old after her mother died of malaria in a refugee camp. She was scouted by Bucknall, whilst she was still in high school. Having signed with FRM in 2008, she was soon seen on the Australian catwalks. Ajak featured in Sydney and Melbourne fashion weeks and for David Jones.

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Her first international haute couture show was for Valentino, and she became a firm runway favourite for high profile designers such as Givenchy, Lanvin, Chloe, Jean Paul Gaultier. Deng has also shot campaigns for United Colours of Benetton, Top Shop, MAC Cosmetics, Louis Vuitton, Banana Republic, Kenzo, Levi’s and Kate Spade.

It has not always been plain sailing though. In February 2014, the model vented her anger on social media in a series of aggrieved Tweets which seemed to claim that she had been cancelled from Balmain’s Fall 2014 runway show over her race.


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