Even over text message Ceval Omar, the Somali-Norwegian transmodel and activist, radiates a positive and infectious energy. Having brought some of that magic to Copenhagen, where she walked for Stine Goya and (di)vision, among other brands, Omar has now turned her focus to fashion week in her hometown of Oslo. She’s part of a jury that will decide the winner of the Fusion Fashion Prize, and she’ll also participate in a roundtable during the Oslo Fusion Festival.
It’s important to have open discussions, Omar said at a talk at CPHFW earlier this month. “You’re basically out there and trying to get other people to acknowledge your existence, and that concept in itself is so flawed because I’m already here and I’m telling you that I’m here,” she said. Now 26, Omar holds a master’s degree in media and communications and was working in the field when she was discovered on Instagram. She signed with three agencies in 2018. Since then she has broken new ground, becoming the first Black trans curve model to appear in British Vogue as part of the Hope issue. She has a fierce, arm-swinging walk and refers to Naomi Campbell as “mother.”
Though her dance card is full, Omar took time to share her thoughts on Norwegian fashion and what changes she’d like to see in the industry.
How would you characterize Norwegian fashion?
Minimal, but young and very eager to prove itself, and seeing ways to come up with fresh takes on sustainability and comfort.
How is it like/unlike the fashion in other Nordic countries?
It’s younger than its older siblings in regards to fashion. That’s both an advantage and a disadvantage; [Norwegian designers] have more freedom to experiment, try new new things, and find their way. [On] the other hand, because it’s so new compared to Stockholm and Copenhagen, it’s easier to not be noticed.
How does your activism intersect with fashion?
Well, fashion being a form of art, and art not only being a tool to reflect the times we’re in, but also to be a change agent, I’m very happy to take part in it and use my voice for it.
What, in your opinion, is the importance of diversity and representation in fashion?
Representation anywhere is important, it’s a mirroring image of our society. And when we are not represented in fashion, we are told that we are not part of society as a whole. We are here, we do exist, and we want to see ourselves represented.
How would you like to see the industry change?
I would love more accountability, more awareness, and more humility.
Who are your fashion icons?
Naomi Campbell has been my everything as long as I can remember. John Galliano for Dior, Alexander McQueen for Givenchy, and Stefano Pilati for YSL, Tom Ford for Gucci, Vivienne Westwood, Rick Owens—I could cry.
What are you most looking forward to at Oslo Fusion?
The energy of hopefulness as things are getting better in regards to corona and how that is reflected in [designers’] work.