Posted by Irene Ojo-Felix | November 19th, 2020

The Graduates

Eniola Abioro

Photos by Adrienne Raquel for

Editor Irene Ojo-Felix

Since 2013,’s The Graduates series has been a visual check-in of the model hustlers who’ve cemented themselves as faces of noteworthy praise in editorial, advertisements, lookbooks, and runways. Through insurmountable rejection and just as many wins, these muses have locked down luxury clients while rising through the ranks from the Hot List to the Top 50 working models in the World. While this year was in no way normal, thanks to the global shutdown and an ongoing pandemic, an unstoppable industry has dialed up the creativity while models have rolled with the professional punches. Photographer Adrienne Raquel takes on this spirit of resilience, shooting this year’s iteration in its entirety via Zoom.

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Fresh off fashion week Eniola Abioro is relieved. The Nigerian muse skipped her normal European route of runway shows, forgoing all except one key appearance at Jason Wu, to focus on her steady course dominating ads and magazine pages alike. Abioro, with doll features and a soft disposition, has been busy linking with brands like Calvin Klein, Fenty Skin, and Revlon while adding to her portfolio editorial scans from Vogue, Vogue Italia, WSJ, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar.

This season was in stark contrast to her first. “I didn’t know how important Prada was,” Abioro recalls of her debut for the brand’s Fall/Winter 2018 show. “But the fact that my mother agent was happy, my agent in Europe was happy and I was traveling? I was super excited and that was my first time on a plane, ever.” Shivering in Milan’s frigid February temps with her driver’s jacket, she took that initial stroll to new heights, multiplying her client base that season at Versace, Saint Laurent, Loewe, Paco Rabanne, and fittingly bookended with Miu Miu. Since then, her career has skyrocketed as she’s garnered up the support of top creatives like Nadine Ijewere, Ethan James Green, and Tyler Mitchell. “The best experience has been the traveling,” Abioro says. “I have never been someone to sit down in one place, so I think COVID hit me hard. I miss meeting new people and getting to work on beautiful sets. I love working on creative sets with creative minds.”

Part of the Nigerian wave of top models landing big-ticket bookings, Abioro has reflected on the importance of family, faith, and giving back. The former grade school teacher has a word of advice for anyone itching to understand how to get scouted, “You have to Google and know who the agencies are. Give yourself as long as you can take to comprehend what you’re really getting into and then go to the right people. When [my mother agency] Few Models advertises on Instagram, they say, “Oh, this person is our lead scout. This person is our manager. This person is the CEO. You know who to go to if you really want to get discovered.” In the makeshift set of her newly snagged apartment, even though she feels: “I suck at makeup!”, Abioro was the ultimate professional under the direction of Raquel.