December 22nd, 2011
Best of 2011, Ethnic Models, Snapshot
Best of 2011: Model of the Year
By Faith

2011 was an amazing year for models of color. We witnessed the meteoric rise of some new faces including Nyasha Matonhodze, Anais Mali and Jasmine Tookes. On the Spring 2012 runways, a slew of brands had a very diverse cast including Hermès, Elie Saab, Moncler Gamme Rouge, Paco Rabanne and Bottega Veneta. Out of the many beautiful faces who shined this year, six caught our eyes and captured our hearts.

Here are the nominees:

1. Chanel Iman

Though Chanel was very selective about her appearances, both on and off the runway, she still holds a spot as one of the world’s supermodels. She scored her very own ELLE cover for the September 2011 issue, as well as covering WSJ Magazine for December 2011.

On the runway, she walked in the Spring 2012 shows for Dw by Kanye West and Bottega Veneta and the Fall 2011 shows for DSquared2, Dolce & Gabbana, Blumarine, Gucci, Michael Kors, Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera.

2. Jourdan Dunn

This was a big year for British-born beauty Jourdan Dunn. She wasn’t afraid to speak out about those who didn’t know how to handle black hair and skin during Paris Fashion Week and she garnered campaigns for Yves Saint Laurent Beauté, Burberry and Burberry Beauty.

Jourdan covered i-D magazine twice this year and was featured in glossies including Numéro, Dazed & Confused and Vogue US, as well as taking some pretty stunning shots for Damon Baker.

On the runway, Jourdan dominated. She strutted the catwalk for Burberry Prorsum, Christian Dior, Giambattista Valli, Hakaan, Moschino, Nina Ricci, Paco Rabanne, Valentino, Versace, Louis Vuitton and the list goes on.

3. Joan Smalls

We just can’t get enough of Joan. She became one of the models known for her amazing off-duty style, as well as becoming the face of Gucci Fall 2011, David Yurman, Estée Lauder, Giambattista Valli’s line for Macy’s, and Chanel’s Spring/Summer campaign.

For editorial, Joan covered issues for i-D and V Magazine and was featured in high-fashion spreads for Dazed & Confused, W Magazine, Vogue US, Vogue Italia, Vogue Paris and Vogue Japan, among others.

Joan walked the runway for virtually every major brand this year including Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, Bottega Veneta, Salvatore Ferragamo, Givenchy and Isabel Marant.

4. Fatima Siad

Fatima has come a long way from America’s Next Top Model and is solidifying herself as one of fashion’s most coveted faces. She scored a print ad for Ojon Restorative Hair Serum and posed on the cover of Jones Magazine’s Summer 2011 issue.

She is starting to make her presence felt in the editorial world and she graced the pages of Essence, Arise Magazine and Gala Magazine.

She walked for some of the biggest names in the game including Hermès, Moncler Gamme Rouge and Dries Van Noten.

5. Nyasha Matonhodze

At just 17, Nyasha has done more than models twice her age. The Zimbabwean bombshell has designers all across the globe clamoring to dress her and this year she scored two huge campaigns for Louis Vuitton and Topshop.

We could barely open a magazine without seeing Nyasha’s face. She covered Love Magazine’s Fall 2011 issue and shot some fabulous fashion spreads for Vogue Japan, Numéro and Vogue US.

Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Lanvin, Versace: just four of the shows Nyasha walked in this year. Oh by the way, she walked in over 40 for Spring 2012 alone.

6. Jasmine Tookes

Jasmine isn’t exactly new to modeling, but she is definitely a fresh face in high-fashion. Hailing from Cali, she got her start as a face for Abercrombie, but has left contemporary brands behind for luxury: Prada, Louis Vuitton, Balmain, Calvin Klein and Miu Miu, to be exact.

And let’s not forget editorial. Jasmine scored her very own cover for French Revue de Modes and got a coveted solo spread for Vogue Paris. Not bad huh?

So who should be Model of the Year for 2011?

Check out more from Chanel Iman here. For Jourdan Dunn, click here. Get more eye candy from Joan here. If you can’t get enough of Fatima, click here. Get more high fashion looks from Nyasha here. And for Jasmine, click here.

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51 Responses to “Best of 2011: Model of the Year”

  1. terilili says:

    Wow. So many beautiful black faces on major ads! I love it!

  2. T1K says:

    Wow this is hard! All very beautiful black yong women….

  3. Ashley says:

    Joan’s skin gives me life!!!

  4. Novelie says:

    really tough choice…all of these lovely ladys are beautiful.
    i think i’m going with fatima or jasmine

  5. DeShara says:

    OMG! I love ALL these models but Joan Smalls is my #1 girl crush besides Solange Knowles! I heart her!

  6. Jihan says:

    I’m sorry, I love me some Chanel Iman, but Joan Smalls clearly had the best year. Chanel did not make as many appearances, and Joan has been in everything! She’s the first black model to be in a Chanel campaign in forever, she walked the VS runway show for the first time, etc etc. I know Chanel is like the default black model, but come on…

    Anyway, my second choice would have been Nyasha because she is a goddess angel from heaven who came to earth to woo us with her ethereal beauty, and Jasmine Tookes also had a big year. I have a feeling 2012 is going to be even better for her, and I think ’12 will be the year she rightfully gets her VS wings!

    But Ajak Deng will always be model of the year to me, because I love her.

    Clearly I have a lot to say about this. Okay i’m done. :)

  7. Caribbelle says:

    All of these women are beautiful but Joan Smalls was undoubtedly the model it girl this year with Chanel Iman in a close second and Nyasha coming in third because she’s blowing up right at this moment. Just my personal observations lol. Again I’m LOVING this list <3

    Excellent job Faith!!

  8. There’s no vote option for Jasmine Tookes. :(

  9. love says:

    Out if the ones here I vote Chanel

  10. Jama says:

    For me it was a tight race between Jourdan and Joan. I LOVE both of them. But, I had to give it to Jourdan because she had a baby in late 09 and was still killing the game less than two years later. WORK!

  11. Dee says:

    This one is hard….still deciding :o(

  12. Joan Smalls for sure than Nyasha and Jourdan.

  13. NikkiBellaRay says:

    These ladies are all gorgeous! Chanel then Jourdan for me!

  14. jasmine says:

    i love them all :(

  15. Marsha D says:

    I can’t even vote! They all look amazing!!!

  16. lolodoll says:

    This is a tough one. I think Chanel, Jordan and Joan are worthy. Think I’ma go with Chanel.

  17. Fatima says:

    Nyasha Matonhodze !!! But honestly I love them all.

  18. This is a tough one…I would have to go with Fatima Siad as my 1st choice though with Jourdan Dunn coming close behind.

  19. MzIndie says:

    I do love Chanel Iman very beautiful girl…but I must say that Nyasha Matonhodze gets my vote. Because she worked so hard this year as well as getting soooooo much notarity for her LV campaign. She is doing awesome things.

  20. ladyluo says:

    Joan definitely. I just don’t think Nyasha and Chanel have it from looking at their pics. Hope Fatima has an even bigger year in ’12.

  21. ilike2size says:

    1 – Joan
    2 – Jourdan
    3 – Nyasha
    4 – Chanel
    5 – Fatima

    That is all.

  22. ilike2smize says:

    Revised (how could I forget Jasmin?):

    1 – Joan
    2 – Jourdan
    3 – Nyasha
    4 – Jasmin
    5 – Fatima
    6 – Chanel (less high fashion impact this year than the other girls)

  23. Olie says:

    Jasmine T.

    A bit sad Arlenis isn’t on this though…

  24. Olie says:

    Actually, I take that back. Joan Smalls

  25. ShawnF. says:

    Fatima Siad Not by a land slide , but she does it for me. Very strong pictures! Skin is flawless, and her face frames are to die for.

  26. Claire says:

    My bad, y’all. I effed up the poll. Out of fairness to the Jasmine stans, I had to reset the poll to zero to include her. If it’s any consolation, we won’t be announcing final results until next week, and voting will continue until then!
    Sorry….! x

  27. Marie says:

    Nyasha!!!!! She is stunning.

  28. Tifani says:

    All thhes models are beautiful in their own right, but I choose Joan Smalls. She is this years “it” girl because she’s been all over the place!!!!!!!!!

  29. binks says:

    Such a hard choice I need to think about this one.

  30. Grace says:

    Fatima is TO DIE FOR. Jourdan and Joan, flawless as they are, are somewhat nondescript…

  31. FashionBum82 says:

    Fatima is making waves all these girls better watch out!

  32. TOUgh one!! I gave it to Jourdan though. Joan was a verrrrry close second.

  33. zimbabwechic says:

    Nyasha for the win

  34. jane smith says:


  35. Nunyabizniz says:

    Joan Smalls baybay!!!!
    Besides the fact that she’s had a major year, she is also the epitome of a top model to me: she looks like one on and off the runway, at all times. she is so effortlessly chic! luv her!

  36. autumnbreeze says:


  37. bobsmob says:

    missing from the nominees this year are Ajak Deng for model of the year and Amare Stoudemire for most fashionable man of the year for me personally.

  38. FashionOne says:


  39. Nicole says:

    I love me some FATIMAAAAAA!!!…Huge fan!!!
    Not to mention all the other young ladies are beautilful as well!!

  40. ladyluo says:

    @bobsmob – I couldn’t remember Ajak Deng’s first name but that was my first thought when I clicked this post. She should have replaced Chanel

  41. tt says:

    they’re all FAB!

  42. Anonymous says:

    In my opinion I think that Jourdan Dunn and Chanel Iman their faces are similar to each other. So I don’t think this makes them good models, but that is just my opinion.
    Jasmine Tookes really caught my attention with her face details.
    But they’re all really stunning. Though, Chanel Iman doesn’t do it for me with her being a model except for her length.

  43. says:

    Nyasha Matonhodze.
    this girl has a beauty hypnotic

  44. Josh says:

    Joan is the obvious winner here. Her body of work this year surpasses all the other nominees. She is on her way to becoming as big as Naomi Campbell. Joan FTW!!!!!!!

  45. ZaraChioma says:

    Joan Smalls kills it every time and she gives great face!

  46. Lady D says:

    Where is Arlenis tho??

  47. Tiara says:

    I was gonna vote for Fatima, untill I saw the Louis Vuitton advertorial with Nyasha which reminded me that i fell in love with her face when i first saw that picture

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