the breakthroughs of 2016

2016 was tough. But as the late, great Leonard Cohen once sang, “There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in." As the new year approaches and we bid out with the old, here are some of our favorite breakthrough faces from the magazine...

by i-D Staff
Dec 15 2016, 3:15pm

Photography Letty Schmiterlow

Name: Adwoa Aboah
Age: 24
Occupation: The model using her experience with and understanding of depression and addiction to open up a frank discussion about mental health, body image, and sexuality with girls around the world.
What we said: "With her shaved head, feline eyes, and freckles, Adwoa has an unforgettable face; she's beautiful. Team this with her warmth and amazing sense of style and you'd be forgiven for thinking she's got life sorted: self-assured and confident. But looks can be deceiving, and the past two years have seen the model face the hardest and darkest days of her life. Struggling with depression and addiction, she's been in and out of rehab, culminating in a suicide attempt at the end of 2014. Thankfully, out of tragedy comes triumph, and now sober, Adwoa is determined to use her experiences to provide other girls with a safe space to talk about the issues we all face growing up — a space where they can share their worries, and use female creativity as a tool for change." - Holly Shackleton

Photography Mario Sorrenti, Fashion Director Alastair McKimm

Name: Dilone
Age: 21
Occupation: The model so cool they named her once.
What we said: "Dilone is the 21-year-old beauty from Long Island who's so cool she's only known by one name. Fresh as a daisy, she took the fashion world by storm when she walked in Bottega Veneta's fall/winter 16 menswear show. Growing up in a very hectic Dominican household, Dilone would often put on plays with her nine 'crazy' siblings, which is how she first fell in love with acting. But after being scouted by her mother agency, DNA, she put her Hollywood dreams on hold and put her best feet forward onto the nearest catwalk." - Tish Weinstock

Photography Alasdair McLellan, Styling Benjamin Bruno

Name: Selena Forrest
Age: 17
Occupation: The quad-riding, Aaliyah-loving model who's taking the industry by storm.
What we said: "Born and bred in Louisiana, Selena Forrest spent her formative years doing things that most kids do, like hanging out with all the other tomboys and rolling around in mud. After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Selena and her family fled to California, where the 17-year-old beauty currently lives today. It was on a beach in Cali that she was first discovered and the rest, as they say, is history. (Well, it was after she finally got her braces off, after taking a pair of pliers to her teeth.) Since then, Selena has walked catwalks from Loewe to Louis Vuitton, bagged campaigns for DKNY and Proenza Schouler, and even found time to grace the cover of i-D's The Futurewise Issue — all in the space of a year. She's the model of the moment." - Tish Weinstock

Photography Quentin Jones

Name: Molly Goddard
Age: 27
Occupation: The Rei Kawakubo-approved London designer who just wants to have fun.
What we said: "Molly Goddard is like a ray of sunshine. Go to one of her shows and you're left with a giant smile across your face, feeling like you want to dance, and get to know her too" - Tish Weinstock

Photography Matt Jones, Styling Annina Mislin 

Name: Charlie Heaton
Age: 22
Occupation: The British actor at the center of this year's biggest, weirdest Netflix sensation, Stranger Things.
What we said: "Charlie Heaton is still pinching himself. Two years ago, he was just a normal kid, doing things that normal kids do, like going to gigs and hanging out with friends. Now he's being sent scripts from all over the world. In fact, he's currently on a set somewhere in Spain, shooting Marrowbone, a psychological thriller, with Mia Goth and Anya Taylor-Joy. For the 22-year-old, things are pretty strange indeed." - Tish Weinstock

Photography Matt Jones

Name: Sasha Lane
Age: 22
Occupation: The streetcast star of American Honey, one of the most prescient and important movies of 2016.
What we said: "There's no doubting Sasha's luminescence. The star of this year's standout indie made an instant impression in American Honey, her film debut. As soon as she steps onscreen — cigarette tipped in her lips, chipped nails, scavenging for scraps, hitching a lift with her two similarly raggedy siblings, dreads tumbled roughly on top of her head — she is utterly believable as Star, scraping through life, navigating hunger, abuse, and neglect. She's instantly captivating, and more than holds her own against Shia LaBeouf and Riley Keough, despite having zero experience." - Hattie Collins

Photography Harley Weir, Styling Julia Sarr-Jamois

Name: Lineisy Montero
Age: 19
Occupation: The fashion world's hottest commodity with a heart of gold.
What we said: "Discovered at an amusement park in her hometown of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the 19-year-old beauty is signed to NEXT Models, lives in Paris, and walked her first ever runway show as an exclusive for Prada. Since her debut last year, Lineisy's star has been firmly in the ascendant, rising from unknown to model of the moment — new face to the face. At the fall/winter 16 shows in New York, London, Milan, and Paris Lineisy walked a staggering 61 shows, and her elegant, fresh-faced beauty shone in every one." - Tish Weinstock

Photography Harry Carr

Name: Charles Jeffrey
Age: 26
Occupation: The Scottish designer bringing fearlessness back into fashion.
What we said: "Skin, passion, and chaos: three words Charles Jeffrey used to describe his recent spring/summer 17 show, the LOVERBOY impresario's second season as part of Fashion East's MAN group. It sounds like — as it always does when talking about the Scottish designer's collection-cum-VF Dalston clubnight — a presentation we'd want to be inside. Somewhere beyond the rose strewn runway and Gareth Wrighton film playing on the wall and amongst the great Space Odyssey of backstage — a world where sweaters are shredded and heads are painted blue." - Matthew Whitehouse

Photography Todd Cole, Styling Turner

Name: Ashton Sanders
Age: 21
Occupation: The star of universally acclaimed, Barry Jenkins-directed breakout of festival season, Moonlight.
What we said: "His film Moonlight is, to put it simply, the kind of movie that you very rarely see. Not only a brilliant and intelligent portrayal of both the contemporary black and gay experience, but also the intersectionality of those two things; a topic that has, as Ashton puts it, 'been swept under the rug for too long.'" - Matthew Whitehouse

Photography Oliver Hadlee Pearch, Styling Max Clark

Name: Stormzy
Age: 23
Occupation: The MC from south London whose self-made rise to the top has been impressively innovative and unilaterally DIY.
What we said: "It was written, Michael Omari's success. It was written long before he became Stormzy. It was written long before he released 'Shut Up' or 'Know Me From.' It was written before the MOBO, AIM, and Rated awards. It was written before the 100 million plus YouTube hits, gigs around the globe, top 10 hits, talks at Oxford University, endorsement deals with adidas, launches with David Beckham, and birthday parties at Thorpe Park. Before Ibiza residencies and boxing matches with Anthony Joshua, acting roles in Brotherhood, and watching Soccer AM on a fan's sofa in south London, it was written. Maybe it was written when he shed the skin of Michael to become Stormzy. It was written maybe even before that, in the womb of his mother, Mrs. Abigail Owuo. It was written because, like grime, Stormzy was simply meant to be. It was written because he wrote it and because he believes it. It was written and it's still being written." - Hattie Collins

Photography Harley Weir, Styling Julia Sarr-Jamois

Name: Harley Weir
Age: 27
Occupation: The most in demand photographer in the industry.
What we said: "As the creator of beautiful and visually seductive images, Harley Weir has become one of the biggest fashion image-makers of recent years. Weir captures the industry's consciousness through her singular vision of the sensuality and tenderness of the human body. Her work frequently explores nudity without making sex the focus. Looking at Harley's images is like peering through a keyhole into a different world — one that's coloured sepia, umber, and ochre, full of romantic and regal subjects. It's simply not enough to look at Harley's images, you want to touch them, be in them." - Lynette Nylander