Posted by | November 14th, 2019

The Graduates

Shanelle Nyasiase

Flip through Shanelle Nyasiase’s portfolio and whichever page your finger were to land on, you’re guaranteed it to be a priceless, top tier image. Since her international arrival in 2017, the South Sudanese, Ethiopian-born model has been liberally booking dream jobs in sweet succession. In an elevator, she might recap her short-but-stacked career with Giorgio Armani––her first show––or a favorite client, Alexander McQueen (Nyasiase is a longterm darling of the famed luxury house). Omitted, though, are pages aplenty in American Vogue, British Vogue, Vogue Paris and billboard-sized campaigns for Versace, Balenciaga, Chanel Beauty, so on. Those kind of tearsheets are golden tickets in this game, but it’s the life behind the face that gives them any value at all.

Visit her page and click or tap the Lists button to favorite Shanelle and keep track of her work.

Photography by Sebastian Kim for

Styling – Vanessa Chow
Hair – Hiro + Mari | Makeup – Steven Canavan

Editor – Stephan Moskovic
Introduction & interview – Steven Yatsko and Irene Ojo-Felix

Above: Top – Preen by Thornton Bregazzi | Pants – Nili Lotan | Bracelet – Model’s own

The Graduates, since its conception in 2013, has become a mainstay featuring the foremost models of the moment. More specifically, when a Hot Lister moves up in rank to Top 50 through their own accomplishments it’s deserving of recognition, each a worthy addition to this ongoing series.

Where are you from originally and how were you discovered?
I have South Sudan citizenship, was born in Ethiopia (Gambella) and grew up in Kenya. I was already modeling in Kenya when I was found by the photographer Daniele Tamagni, who immediately introduced me to Ingrid Tamborin, my manager. She then came back to Nairobi to meet me and everything started.

Who do you look up to in the industry?
I look up to everybody because they all have interesting ideas and are working hard for their dreams. Designers and photographers are doing amazing jobs and models now are living in one of the best times to make it big. We are so many though so at the same time, it’s also the hardest time to make it through.

What is one thing no one would ever guess about you?
My background and my story because in the fashion industry people often know just about the problematic refugee issue about my region but not the other cultural and existing stories which make our life there.

“…I’m proud to see all these African models doing big things. I wouldn’t change the whole industry but I’m just hoping that all these new faces will last. I really hope that this is not just a trend but a real change.”

What has been your proudest moment so far in your modeling career? And why? Were you nervous or excited going into the show?
Working for Alexander McQueen still remains my best moment. When I was a teenager it was always Alexander McQueen that I was watching and I always saw myself in his work (everything was looking like an “alien”). Then working for McQueen was so emotional because I couldn’t believe I was actually doing it, especially my two campaigns. When Sarah [Burton] told me “if Alexander was still alive you were the girl he was waiting to meet” it felt like family and not simply work. I believe it’s important to feel like a “muse” and not just a model sometimes. Doing the show always feels like the first time.

When it comes to race do you think fashion is hitting the mark in terms of inclusion? Is there anything more that you think could be done?
I think today in the industry they’re starting to include everybody so it’s a good moment and I’m proud to see all these African models doing big things. I wouldn’t change the whole industry but I’m just hoping that all these new faces will last. I really hope that this is not just a trend but a real change. I see fashion as a career and not just an experience especially when you’re a young girl coming from far away like Africa and you have to leave your family, school, everything behind for such a big dream. It is important to give them a real chance.

Do you remember your first show? How was the experience and what were your feelings?
Giorgio Armani. It was a very happy time because I did not know who Giorgio Armani was and he came to me to try something on and I thought he was just a guy. Later on, I felt embarrassed when I discovered it was him. I loved how humble he was with everyone because he doesn’t see any difference and I respect him very much and love him for that. I would love to work for him again and again.

What advice would you give to aspiring models wanting to follow in your footsteps?
First, they need to be ready, and to make sure to focus on what they love and never change. Always be you and never fake the reality. No matter who you become, stay humble. Even if you become famous or rich, always take life easy and remember where you come from.

Do you have any experience with criticism in the industry and do you have any advice for others who are just getting started with modeling on how to deal?
We are all learning every day so every experience counts.

What is one thing you would like to do next? A dream job, if you will.
I have a lot of plans and projects but I can’t mention them now – until next 😉

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One Comment to “Shanelle Nyasiase on fighting stereotypes and the spirit of Alexander McQueen”

  1. Donn Thom says:

    When I first saw her, I thought she was Grace Bol.. Shanelle Nyasiase’s is rich looking with features as Grace Bol.. I guess they are from the same tribe Dinka People in South Sudan. Love her look!