Congolese model takes on Hong Kong’s prejudiced fashion industry

Harmony “Anne-Marie” Ilunga is challenging typical Asian beauty standards upheld in Hong Kong that glorify whiter skin. The 22-year-old Hong Kong model from Congo just started her own modeling agency – representing women of color.


“We are here to celebrate diversity,” Ilunga says. “Everyone knows that Hong Kong is a diverse city, but diversity is not represented, and more importantly, not celebrated.” The agency forms a part of Harmony HK, the social platform Ilunga set up in 2018. The platform targets ethnic minorities’ lack of visibility in the city’s media, particularly in modeling and fashion, promoting diversity and inclusion of ethnic minorities and refugees in Hong Kong through art and fashion.

The Harmony HK Team

Ilunga always knew she wanted to model. “You should see the way I used to pose when I was a kid,” she laughs. She was exposed to modeling by taking part in high school fashion shows and pursued freelance modeling throughout and after college, where she encountered unwarranted but common challenges. “We prefer white models,” she says she was often told when approaching agencies. In response, she thought: “You’re not giving me a seat at your table? That’s fine, I don’t want it, I’m going to make my own table.”


Ilunga is also starting an online store on the Harmony HK website for ethnic minority and refugee designers to sell their products. She hopes that she can use her career as an example to which other children with similar backgrounds can aspire. “I do want to be a role model, I want other African kids to be able to look at me as a positive example and believe that they can be a model or whatever else they want,” she says. “All we want is to be included and represented. I consider Hong Kong my home. I grew up here, and I’m not going anywhere.”

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