Currently a graphic design student in Tel Aviv, Andebet Ayalla has been interested in fashion since a young age, and cites longtime Vogue editor André Leon Talley as an inspiration.

By Liana Satenstein (Vogue) |

Andebet Ayalla stands out in the Israeli modeling world. The lanky 25-year-old with a flair for wearing Dior, Gosha Rubchinskiy, and a variation of fanny packs is one of the few Ethiopian Jews, also referred to as “Beta Israel,” in the country’s fashion industry—or otherwise. (There are only about 150,000 of the group in the world; the majority now reside in Israel.) The small community has a fractured past: In the early ’90s, the Israeli Army led several clandestine initiatives to rescue the threatened community out of Ethiopia, which included operations to airlift them into Israel.

Andebet Ayalla immigrated to Israel at the age of 7 in 2001. For him and his family, the result was culture shock. “My parents thought that [black Jews] were the only Jews in the world,” he says. “And that there aren’t white Jews.” Ayalla also grew up speaking the Ethiopian language of Amharic. (Ayalla’s first name, Andebet, means destiny in Amharic; he notes that his parents refused to give him a Hebrew name.) He boasts a proud attitude towards his culture, continuing to speak in his native tongue when possible. “When I was younger, they [people] used to laugh at me because I spoke in Amharic,” he says over Skype. “A couple years ago, I chose to speak more. I have my parents to speak to me in Amharic so I don’t forget that.”

Currently a graphic design student in Tel Aviv, Ayalla has been interested in fashion since a young age, and cites longtime Vogue editor André Leon Talley as an inspiration.

Continue reading this story at Vogue
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