Maxim Meyer-Horn

Naaj and Tayasir, Two Somalian Refugees, About Culture and Wearing the Pants

Fashion is not just about clothes, it’s about shaping and creating an identity by expressing yourself through the art of design. Since clothes look the best on people, designers tend to look for faces that are in line with the brand’s identity and that can represent the brand. Being a model is a dream for many girls and especially for Naaj and Tayasir, two refugees from Somalia who now live in Belgium.

Our beloved photographer Ines Vansteenkiste-Muylle invited the two girls before her lens.


Naaj’s dream of becoming a model started when she was nine years old. Years later and even more fascinated by the integrity and equality in the fashion industry, but also the designers and the energy of the business, Naaj is determined to take her shot to become a model.

Having another cultural background isn’t always easy. It challenges you to push your boundaries, but that’s exactly what Naaj wanted to do in front of our photographer’s camera and she did. “The shoot with Ines was incredible because Ines is such a nice person and knows how to comfort you,” she told us after her first photo shoot. Since the young girl stays in Belgium without her parents, becoming a model would mean a lot to her, because she feels she could be bolder and more independent.

Louis Vuitton scarf. Monki jacket.

Vintage Yves Saint Luarent jacket. Hermès scarf.


Tayasir always dreamed of wearing beautiful garments. “The most interesting thing about clothes is that everyone can wear whatever they want and show who they are,” the young Somalian says. Fashion is not always about trends, but also about accepting yourself by wearing what you feel like and not only base yourself on the opinion of others.

Tayasir came to Belgium with her parents and sees a big cultural difference, especially in fashion. “In Somalia, as a woman, you have to be fully covered and can’t wear pants, for example,” she explains. Wearing trousers in the photo shoot was a special moment for Tayasir. “There are many women that showed that a headscarf can be fashionable too, so I feel like the industry is slightly opening up.” In the future, Tayasir would like to learn even more from Ines and expand her passion for photography and fashion.

Céline jacket. Dior scarf. JuliaJune trousers.

Dior scarf. Céline jacket.

Louis Vuitton scarf. Monki jacket. Kenzo trousers.

Left, - Vintage Yves Saint Luarent jacket. Kenzo sweater and scarf. Hermès scarf. Right - Guess cardigan. Monki trousers. Hermès scarf.

Photography by Ines Vansteenkiste-Muylle
Styling by Fiona Rombaut
Makeup by Catia Nulens

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