Fearless and seriously determined. This sexy Cameroonian-born model gives us an inside look into modelling in Europe, the fashion she loves, humanitarian work and the women who inspire her.

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Zen: Tell us where you are from?
Armande: I was born and raised in Cameroon though I am now living in the UK.

Zen: What inspired you to get into modelling?
Armande: At a very young age, I always read fashion magazines and I was so impressed by the beauty of the models in those magazines. While growing up, people always said to me that I had the look of a model and I could someday be a model so one day I just decided to give it a try and I am so glad I followed their wise words.

Zen: When and why did you get started?
Armande: I started modelling when I was in college. I did a job for an agency in my city and they signed me up immediately after the show. Ever since that day, I decided to pursue modelling as a career because I love everything about modelling, and I had started to learn so much about fashion and the whole industry. I also wanted to see if I could be as good as the models I saw in the magazines while growing up.

Zen: What are the most challenging areas of being an African model living in Europe?
Armande: The most challenging part for me is being considered a model suitable for selection at a casting. When I started my modelling career, I didn’t think that I would be a “black African model”, I just wanted to be a model. Being African and working in the industry here in the UK just means that you need to work harder than other models, especially if your skin is darker. I will also add that you need to have a versatile look because there are so many African models and only the ones with a strong look get selected.

Zen: Is there anything you don’t like about the industry presently? 
Armande: Yes, definitely! I don’t like people who make models work for free when they know deep down in their hearts that they can at least afford to cater for the models travel expenses or even give them a few products after the show. I also don’t like other African models who always say they want to see more African models in the industry but they don’t help other models to get jobs. They have the position to help and share these work but some of them opt not to do that. I believe we can learn so much from each other if we all help one another. 

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Zen: What can be done to prevent or improve that area?
Armande: As a model, you should know why you are doing this job. If you are always working for free, you reduce the chance for you and other models to get a paid job. Modelling is a job and brands should always find a way to pay models for the job they do. The African supermodels need to support the other models, introduce them to their industry network and let them work with all their heart. Getting the right connections in this industry is very important.

Zen: Who are some of your favourite models?
ArmandeNaomi Campbell is 1 of my favourite models of all time though at the moment, I really love, Joelle Kayembe, Ajak Deng and Oluchi Onweagba.

Zen: How would you describe your style?
Armande: My style is very versatile. I like to dress up and do different things with my wardrobe. I try to have different styles whenever I can.

Zen: If you had to make a list of your top 4 African designers. Who would be on that list? 
Armande: My top 4 African designers would be Martial Tapolo, Imane Ayissi, Nakuin Kouidou and Alphadi.

Zen: Who are the women that inspire you?
Armande: My Mum, Dr. Felicia Mabuza and Iman.

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Zen: What’s the first thing you think about when you think about your home country Cameroon?
Armande: I think about the food and I also think about the music. I miss them so much.

Zen: What advice do you have for other aspiring models?
ArmandeProtect yourself, be strong, stay focused and be professional at all times.

Zen: What does fashion mean to you?
Armande: Fashion is life. I really love fashion and fashion has a big place in my life. Whatever I’m doing, as a model, stylist or working in a clothing shop, I am always happy to be surrounded by all these clothes, the beauty and people who share the same passion for fashion.

Zen: Describe African fashion in 4 words
ArmandeUnique, colourful, elegant and sophisticated.

Zen: Are there any charity organizations that you have worked with you would love to share?
Armande: I have worked with many charities in Cameroon and here in the UK. Currently, I spend some time to volunteer at Oxfam in a shop where I help with my skill in fashion retail to improve sales.

Zen: What’s it like working with an NGO?
Armande: It is a very exciting experience and you can discover a lot about yourself. For me, working with an NGO is about sharing, showing love and helping people like a real life hero.

Zen: What is next for Armande?
Armande: I’m still modelling, but I’m also going to open a hair salon and a clothing shop. I plan to graduate in fashion merchandising and work as a buyer at the end of this year. Wish me luck!

Photography by Eric Schneider