Every February, we remember Black women and men who’ve helped change history. Whether making changes in politics, business, education or being a voice for justice, African Americans have paved the way.
There are also leaders in style who have set trends, graced magazine covers and displayed exquisite taste that still prevails in fashion today. In honor of the end of an exciting fashion week, we’d like to pay homage to 10 glamorous Black models in history.
Grace Jones took the modeling world by storm as a fabulously androgynous 1970’s supermodel and with her unforgettable voice, Jones became a dance music diva, releasing albums like “Nightclubbing” and “Slave to the Rhythm.”
Her to-the-max personal style made her a muse to the most exciting artists of the era.
Photo Credit: Flickr
The gorgeous Beverly Johnson made worldwide headlines when she became the first black model to land the cover of American Vogue in 1974. Her cover had such a powerful affect on the fashion industry that by 1975, most major mainstream magazines had a woman of color on their covers.
Photo Credit: Huffington Post
Dorothea Towles was the first top black model to work in Paris. As a teen, she modeled exclusively for black magazines stateside—but during a two-month vacation to Paris in 1949, she was discovered by Christian Dior, and embarked on a wildly successful career as one of the most celebrated models in Europe.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Sara Lou Harris
In the late 1940s and ’50s, Sara Lou Harris was one of the top Black models in the country. Beyond being the most recognized runway star on the Ebony Fashion Fair circuit, Harris holds the distinction of being the first model of color to appear in a national advertisement.
Photo Credit: Flickr
In the ’70s no one worked a runway like supermodel Pat Cleveland. She was discovered by a Vogue editor in 1967 while walking to Manhattan’s LaGuardia Performing Arts School. By 1970 she lived in Paris and set the fashion world ablaze.
Photo Credit: becauseiamfabulous.com
Supermodel Donayale Luna was one of the world’s most beautiful women in the 1960s. Luna began modeling in 1965 and within months, an article in Time magazine declared 1966 to be “The Luna Year.” She was the first black model to appear on the cover of British Vogue, and was a muse to legendary photographers.
Photo Credit: W Magazine
Waris Dirie was born into a nomadic tribe in Somalia where she ran away at age thirteen to avoid marriage a much older man. After working odd jobs in London, she was discovered by photographer Terence Donovan, who shot her for her the cover of the 1987 Pirelli calendar. From there she became a star, landing ads for Chanel, Levi’s, L’Oréal and Revlon.
Photo Credit: fashionmodeldirectory.com
Surinamese/Dutch beauty Louise Vyent‘s delicate, sultry look made her a favorite for beauty companies during her heyday in the ’80s. Not only did she appear on the cover of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, she graced the 1990 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and was a favorite of Revlon.
Photo Credit: Harper’s Bazaar