Although the fashion industry continues to be dominated by Anglo-Saxon ideals of beauty, these seven black fashionistas turned the industry on its head. Displaying the splendor of diversity in color and size, they broke racial barriers and used their modeling and fashion platforms to pursue other business opportunities, support their favorite causes and open the world’s eyes to the beauty of black women.
Donyale Luna was the first black cover girl. Born Peggy Ann Freeman in 1945, this Detroit native enjoyed success in front of both still and motion cameras. In 1965, her sketch was featured on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar. The following year, Luna became the first black model to be featured on the cover of Vogue; it was the British version of the magazine.
The New York Times proclaimed 1966 “The Luna Year” and stated that at the age of 20, she was the hottest model in Europe. She appeared in several Andy Warhol movies, starred in an Otto Preminger movie alongside Groucho Marx, and was the title character in Salome, an Italian movie made in 1972. The Sunday Times Magazine of London, described Luna as “the completely new image of the Negro woman. Fashion finds itself in an instrumental position for changing history, however slightly, for it is about to bring out into the open the veneration, the adoration, the idolization of the Negro.”