, 2022-11-14 21:11:26,
Model and fashion designer Fola Francis scrolls through her phone, smiling hard. When I ask her what’s happening, she grins wider. “The messages keep coming in,” Francis says, referring to her Instagram and people congratulating her on debuting at Lagos Fashion Week the day before. “It is so exciting!”
Lagos Fashion Week, which Vogue describes as Africa’s leading fashion week, ran for four days at the end of October and showcased designers from across Africa. Francis was the first trans person ever to walk the runway, modelling for two labels: Cute-Saint and Fruché. Trans rights are non-existent in Nigeria and trans people face numerous challenges from both the government and citizens alike. Against this backdrop, Francis’s appearance on the runway is a huge deal.
Making history isn’t easy; her debut was nerve-wracking. She says that, backstage, before walking the runway, she danced and told herself, “You’re the Fola Francis. A bad bitch. This is your dream, and you’re making it come true.” She had worked so hard to get here and wasn’t going to mess it up.
“I was anxious when I walked out for the first show and saw so many people,” she says. “I was like, ‘Shit! Shit!’ But then, everyone started screaming with excitement, and I wanted to laugh,” Francis says. “I told myself, ‘You know what? You have to take this seriously. You have to let them know that you’re here and you mean business.’”
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