The African Heritage House: Iconic Models

Several iconic models emerged through African Heritage shows including Iman and Khadija

By African Heritage House

African Heritage modelOriginal Source: African Heritage House

The famous faces of the African Heritage House

African Heritage has been a fashion powerhouse for more than four decades. It is therefore not surprising that it hosted magnificent fashion shows with the most beautiful models and dancers that Kenya has ever seen. African Heritage was the first to present all African models, fabrics and jewellery in its first show during the All African Trade Fair in 1972 when it presented a collection of fashions created from Nigerian fabrics with African Heritage Jewellery by Alan Donovan. This photo was taken by David Beatty

ImanOriginal Source: African Heritage House


Iman is the most famous model to come out of Africa. Here she wears a fetish jacket from Mali from the African Heritage Collection. This was her first photo in Vogue Magazine, taken by Peter Beard. 

ImanOriginal Source: African Heritage House

Iman's first catwalk show

Iman modeled only once for African Heritage in Kenya, for the 3rd African Heritage Night at Maasai Lodge in 1975. Alan Donovan describes meeting her:

“Iman’s sister brought her to African Heritage, as it was about the only organization in Kenya through which models could travel abroad. She was working at a travel agency and had been a student at the University of Nairobi."

ImanOriginal Source: African Heritage House

Poster from 3rd African Heritage Night which featured Iman's debut in modelling, with the first African Heritage group Musi-O-Tunya, which means "smoke that thunders".

ImanOriginal Source: African Heritage House

Iman photographed by Peter Beard

Iman wearing African Heritage Jewellery, photographed by world famous photographer Peter Beard in photographs that catapulted her to international fame.

African Heritage publicity photoOriginal Source: African Heritage House

Mickey Ragos

Mickey Ragos was a perennial Mr. Kenya, having held that title for more than a decade. His son was also Mr. Kenya. Mickey was the lead male model for African Heritage for 22 years. Here he poses for an African Heritage publicity poster with Cameroon feathered headdress and beaded tabard of the kind traditionally worn for Elephant hunts in Cameroon.

Mickey Ragos and Susan AumaOriginal Source: African Heritage House

Mickey Ragos and Susan Auma

Mickey Ragos in Cameroon Chief’s embroidered robe with model Susan Auma in an outfit adapted from the robe.

Susan Auma was later cast by the famous director Stephen Spielberg for a role in the film “The Colour Purple” that brought Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg to international acclaim.

Mickey Ragos and Fayel TallOriginal Source: African Heritage House

Mickey Ragos and Fayel Tall

This is a shot for an African Heritage Night poster by photographer Athi Mara Magadi. Fayel wears an African Heritage tabard and skirt of Kenyan cowsuede based on Turkana women’s dress with a floor length necklace of hammered brass and hand made Kamba brass chains. Mickey wears trousers once worn by an Emir in Northern Nigeria with hat from the Fulani.

Cathreen Karl in Tuareg jewellery collection by Tuareg, MaliOriginal Source: African Heritage House

Catherine Karl

Catherine Karl was the longest reigning head model  for African Heritage. She modelled with African Heritage for 13 years. Here, she wears Tuareg jewellery collection and embroidered garments from the Fulani of Mali.

African Heritage model Catherine KarlOriginal Source: African Heritage House

Catherine Karl with models wearing masks.

Photo by Henrik

African Heritage Logo by Alan DonovanAfrican Heritage House

Catherine Karl modelling the African Heritage promotional poster and logo.

Photo by Henrik

African Heritage model Catherine KarlOriginal Source: African Heritage House

Catherine wearing African Heritage Jewelry

Catherine wearing a feather headdress from Cameroon and a collection of silver jewelry by African Heritage from the Tuareg of the Sahara Desert.

African Heritage model Fayel Tall in Nala necklace by Alan DonovanOriginal Source: African Heritage House

Fayel Tall

Fayel from Mali went on to become a famous international model. Photography by Athi Mara Magadi.

Fayel TallAfrican Heritage House

Fayel Tall in African Heritage Jewelry which combines Faience beads and a “ scarab” from Egypt, coconut shell beads from Nigeria with carved bone beads, all from African Heritage.
Photo by Athi Mara Magadi

Persis Khambatta by Merina Women, MadagascarOriginal Source: African Heritage House

Persis Khambatta

Persis Khambatta (2 October 1948 – 18 August 1998) was a former Miss World in 1965. She also acted as Lieutenant Ilia in the 1979 feature film Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Here she is wearing hand woven Lamba Mena from Madagascar.

Persis KhambattaOriginal Source: African Heritage House

Persis Khambatta

Former Miss World Persis Khambatta in African Heritage design trimmed with Royal Kente cloth from Ghana and African Heritage jewelry.

Persis Khambatta by Maasai, KenyaOriginal Source: African Heritage House

Persis Khambatta on the cover of Maridadi Magazine, published in Nairobi. She is wearing a Maasai woman's beaded necklace and headdress.

Emma TooOriginal Source: African Heritage House

Other Models

Several other models made their careers at African Heritage, such as East Africa's Face of Africa winner and Miss Nairobi Centennial, Emma Too. Here she is in African Heritage design based on Turkana dress with floor-length brass necklace.

African Heritage Models by Alan DonovanOriginal Source: African Heritage House

This is a photograph taken by David Beatty, of African Heritage models in Kenya beadwork, during the 30th anniversary celebrations of African Heritage. Beaded capes & crown by designer Oria, Douglas Hamilton.

Debra SanaipeiOriginal Source: African Heritage House

Debra Sanapei

Debra Sanapei, Miss Tourism Kenya 2001, wearing the winning costume designed by African Heritage.

Yolanda MasindeAfrican Heritage House

Yolanda Masinde

Yolanda Masinde, Miss Kenya 2000, wearing Lamba Mena at the African Heritage House.

Khadija AdamOriginal Source: African Heritage House

Khadija Adam

Miss Kenya 1984 and Miss World Continental Queen of Africa Khadija Adam who went from an African Heritage night to become the first African lead model for Yves Saint Laurent.

African Heritage on the Road (Part 2) by Alan DonovanOriginal Source: African Heritage House

Many models launched their careers after several fashion shows organised and produced by Alan Donovan of African Heritage, such as the African Renaissance Show.

Credits: Story

Curated by:
Magunga Williams; writer and blogger []
Martin K. Maitha; writer []

Photography by:
Kabutha Kago []
Alan Donovan []
David Beatty []

Associated Manager:
Fred Kithinzi of Belva Digital []

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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