Meet Hanan Ibrahim, the model walking Melbourne Fashion Week after only one year in the business

Words by Maeve Kerr-Crowley
Images by Sonja Maria Sujecki

Everything’s coming up Hanan.

When Hanan Ibrahim told me she’d only been modelling for a year, I was genuinely shocked.

We met in the middle of the Melbourne Fashion Week casting day, surrounded by hectic, bustling activity. Not only did she looked completely at ease, weaving through crowds and towering over even the other models, but the only way to describe her reception was adoring.

Between interviews and photo ops – she very casually mentioned being pulled aside by the Herald Sun and Channel 7 – Hanan was stopped every few steps by other models saying hi, wishing her luck or telling her how good she looked. As we stood taking photos, a group of passing models called out, “She’s so beautiful. Mashallah, girl!”

But as she admits, Hanan is relatively new to the game. Out in the non-fashion world, she works as a radiation therapist and tutor for disadvantaged children. She was scouted in February last year while attending a runway, approached by a designer looking to cast for Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival.

Close to a year and a half later, and she’s ridiculously happy to be where she is. She’s walked multiple big runways, donning labels like Carla Zampatti, Gorman and Scanlan Theodore, and done editorial work for brands like Mimco and Remuse Designs. She gushes, “Ever since I’ve been on that runway, I’ve just loved it so much.”

This is largely due to the warm welcome she says she never expected from the fashion world. As a woman who wears a hijab, Hanan was pleasantly surprised to even find space for her in the modelling industry.

It’s no secret that fashion hasn’t always been accepting of people’s differences. But the turnout at the MFW casting is a pretty solid example of how far the industry has come. Models of all sizes, races, genders, ages and physical abilities were there to give it a go, making for a powerful and refreshing sight.

As an avid, lifelong reader of magazines like Girlfriend, Dolly and Cosmopolitan, Hanan divulges a longstanding hope of one day being featured in the glossy pages of one her favourite publications.

She believes the Australian industry, and Melbourne in particular, is making especially great strides in its attitude towards diversity. The city is pushing for representation of its multicultural population, making plenty of room for models like Hanan to shine.

“Every photographer, designer and stylist that I’ve been fortunate enough to work with this past year has just been incredibly open and receptive to me and who I choose to stand in this world as,” she says. “It’s been such an amazing journey.”

You can catch Hanan on the runway at this year’s Melbourne Fashion Week.


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