09/09/2014 03:35 EDT | Updated 11/09/2014 05:59 EST

AP PHOTOS: For New York Fashion Week models, life outside the spotlight isn't all glamour

NEW YORK, N.Y. - They're the often- anonymous stars of New York Fashion Week — the models who walk the runways in designer clothes, looking mostly impassive and inevitably beautiful as they pose before cameras.

Their lives off the runways, however, remain for the most part a mystery.

They are young women like Mari Agory, whose family fled the South Sudan for Egypt to escape civil war; Adesuwa Pariyapasat, who was discovered by a scout in Nigeria at 17; Abiah Hostvedt, whose life on the road sometimes makes him homesick for his native Jamaica.

Associated Press photographers spoke backstage with models during New York Fashion Week, which began Thursday.

Here are their stories.