It’s Black History Month, and we’re celebrating the women that have put their fierce stamp on the fashion world. It’s names like Dorothea Towles, Donyale Luna, Sara Lou Harris, and Naomi Sims (just to name a few) that have paved the way for women of color in fashion. These women, among others have demonstrated what it looks like to be fierce against all odds. So, we are highlighting a few women that have pushed through runways, and graced covers that most women dream of.
With a modeling career that stemmed from pure curiosity during her summer break from Northeastern University, Beverly Johnson is the definition of inspiring. She landed her first assignment with Glamour rather quickly, where she then went on to appear on over 500 magazine covers. Her most well-known claim-to-fame is the 1974 American Vogue cover, which made her the first African-American woman to do so. That cover completely changes the beauty ideal in U.S. fashion. By 1975, every major American fashion designer was featuring black models. She has also been named one of the top 100 most influential people in fashion by The New York Times. Big thanks to Beverly Johnson for helping to jumpstart such an exciting time in fashion!
Iman was discovered during her time in college as a political science major. An American fashion photographer immediately took note of her exotic features: tall stature, long neck, bold eyes, and copper-toned skin, and convinced her to move to the U.S. to pursue a modeling career. She moved thereafter, and started a career that would continue even today. With her first assignment being Vogue, Iman was surely a fashion-force to be reckoned with. With designers like Calvin Klein, YSL, Gianni Versace deeming her as their “muse”, she was able to maintain a career of over 14 years as a model. She was also noted as one of the first supermodels to have a successful career in print and runway modeling. You better werk, Iman!
Known for her boldly androgynous style, Grace Jones took the fashion world by storm. Born in Jamaica to a religious family, Grace always stood out amongst her siblings for being different. During her time in New York, Jones was discovered, and signed by Wilhelmina models. She immediately moved to Paris, and was well-received for her bold style, and dark-skinned appearance. She has strutted across runway’s of YSL and posed for magazines like Vogue and Elle. Grace Jones’ bold style has inspired such artist’s like Madonna, Rihanna, Lady Gaga today.
If you don’t know her from her long-running television show America’s Next Top Model, then you might be living under a rock (no offense). Of course, that isn’t where she got her start. Tyra’s supermodel career began in 1990 while she was still in high school. That same year, she made it into her first print piece for Seventeen magazine. She soon found out her perfectly curvaceous figure was not cut out for the high-fashion runways in Paris, so she directed all of her attention toward swimwear and lingerie modeling. From there, her career skyrocketed! Tyra Banks became the first African-American woman to appear on the cover of GQ and Sports Illustrated. She was also the first black woman to be featured in the Victoria’s Secret lingerie catalog. For a long time, she was the face of Cover Girl and Victoria’s Secret, and she will forever be associated with those well-known brands. So here’s to you, Tyra Banks, for being one badass model representing for not only the black community but women of all shapes and colors!
Blog Contributors: Danae Y., Shayla W.