The tale of Gbolahan Yusuf, the Nigerian restaurant attendant turned international model, is inspirational.


Yusuf’s remarkable transition from serving tables at The Place restaurant in Surulere, Lagos to strutting the global runway as a model for Fendi went viral on Sunday.

Temitope Olaore, a model scout for Cias Models Management, chronicled his transformation via her Instagram page.

The company, owned by Femi Alabi, scouts, develops and manages models with partners in France, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Italy.


Olaore, a frequent customer of the restaurant where Yusuf worked, saw a “successful model rather than a mere attendant”.

Yusuf was an attendant at The Place restaurant in Surulere

After recognising Yusuf’s unique appearance and innate charm in 2023, she sent his video to her boss who got intrigued, requested more images, and gave his approval.

Following the approval, the necessary evaluation and preparation then started. The preparation included measuring Yusuf’s height, enhancing his appearance, and training him on how to strut like a professional model.


Then in 2024, Yusuf made his modelling debut for Fendi at the Milan Fashion Week.

“I was a very regular customer at the restaurant in Surulere last year. I had visited there countless times to get food and seen Gbolahan quite often,” she wrote.

“Until one day, it clicked! I looked at him as he printed my bill over the desk and thought. I said to myself, ‘How come I haven’t seen this? How did it take me so long to realise?’ Without hesitating, I took out my phone and made the first video on the slide. I sent it straight to my boss, Femi Swaris.

“Today, Gbolahan, from behind the desk as a restaurant server boy in Lagos, Nigeria, made his debut in Milan for Fendi. I’m short on words for his first-ever runway appearance; all I can say is, glory be to God.


“Congratulations to the entire Cias team and Gbolahan for his incredible journey from behind the desk in Lagos to the runways of Milan!”.

Aside from walking for the Italian luxury fashion brand Fendi, Yusuf recently modelled for JW Anderson, the UK fashion label.

Yusuf made his modelling debut for Fendi at the Milan Fashion Week.
Yusuf made his modelling debut for Fendi at the Milan Fashion Week

After his first modelling gig, Yusuf took to his Instagram page to appreciate the agency for believing in him.

He also shared photos from the show while describing himself as “blessed”.


“So blessed. I walked my first show with so much gratitude in my heart. Thank you to the entire team of Fendi for having me,” he wrote.

“A big thank you to my amazing agents for believing in me. Thank God. Thank you everyone for your kind wishes and messages.”

Elated by the support from Nigerians, Yusuf added: “I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support”.

“You all don’t know me but have shown me so much love. I don’t take it for granted. God bless you all.”


Yusuf’s amazing transition has continued to fetch him commendation on social media platforms.

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