We Celebrate Iconic Black Women In Fashion And Beauty.

We Celebrate Iconic Black Women In Fashion And Beauty.

We are spotlighting the beautiful women who paved the way for black designer and models and broke down racial barriers in both the fashion and beauty industries which unfortunately even today are still severely lacking when it comes to ethnic diversity.


Some of these beautiful women you will immediately recognize as they broke racial barriers and gave women of color a face and place on the runways, magazine covers and ad campaigns of renowned brands worldwide.

Others you may have never heard of but their history making achievements will leave you wanting to know more. Read on to see our complete of list of Black Women Who Paved The Way In The Fashion And Beauty Industries...

Zelda Wynn Valdes
Zelda Wynn Valdes is infamius for being the first African American designer to open up her own store Chez Zelda on Broadway in 1948. She designed beautiful, curvacious gowns for famous actresses and performers of her time that included Dorothy Dandridge, Josephine Baker, and Ella Fitzgerald. Among her many achievements Zelda served as the  National Association of Fashion and Accessory Designers chapter president. She was also the head costume designer of the Dance Theater of Harlem.

Fun Fact: Zelda Wynn Valdes was commisstioned by Hugh Hefner to design and create the first playboy bunny costume. The daring, curve hugging and very sexy designs earned Zelda a spot in the Hollywood fashion history.

Donyale Luna
Model Donyale Luna broke racial barriers not just in the U.S but in the international fashion and beauty industry when she became the  first black model to grace the cover of any Vogue magazine. She appeared on the cover of British Vogue in 1966, two years after the Civil Rights was enacted. One year later she became the first black woman to cover French Elle magazine.

Beverly Johnson
Model Beverly Johnson made history and took a giant smashing ball to barriers in the fashion publishing industry when she became the first black model to cover the iconic fashion magazine Vogue US in their August 1974 issue.  New York Times selected her for their '20th Century’s 100 Most Influential People in the Fashion Industry List.'

The infamous Somalian model Iman is one of the most recognized black models in the world. She landed her first Vogue campaign in 1976 just 2 years after Beverly Johnson's history making Vogue cover. Not content to just be known as a Supermodel Iman went on to create her own beauty label for women of color in 1994, which is sold at major retailers worldwide. Her namesake makeup line is one of the leading brands for black women and she went on to receive the CFDA's icon award in 2010.

Veronica Webb
While Iman was working the fashion runways model Veronica Webb was about to  make history by becoming the first African American model to receive a cosmetics contract. She became the spokes-model for Revlon in the mid-80s.

Naomi Campbell
The supermodel era in the late 80s into the 90's brought us infamous fashion models like Cindy Crawford ans Linda Evangelista but none was as exotic and fiery as Naomi Campbell. This black British model of Jamaican descent was discovered at the age of 15 while shopping in London. She took the world by storm and went on to dominate fashion runway shows and continues to be featured on fashion magazine covers today, while the other supermodels of her time have stepped out of the limelight.

Tyra Banks
African American supermodel Tyra Banks is as famously known for her modelling career and for her post-modeling entrepreneurial success. Tyra began her modeling in 1991 at the age of 15 when she walked the runways at Paris Fashion week. She went on to become the first black model to cover GQ Magazine and Sports Illustrated. She was also a fixture in the Victoria's Secrets catalogs and annual Victoria's Secret Angel televised fashion show.

After leaving the runway modeling industry Tyra went on to host her own namesake TV talk show and she also created the successful model search show "America's Next Top Model."

Liya Kebede
Ethiopian model Liya Kebede was discovered while at school and cemented her modeling career walking in the Tom Ford for Gucci runway show in 2000. She has covered U.S Vogue three times and in 2002, french Vogue dedicated an entire cover to her. 

Liya went on to create her own clothing line which aims at preserving Ethiopian textile and is sold at high end retailers. She also created a namesake foundation helps to reduce mother and infant mortality rates in Ethiopia.

Joan Smalls
Joan Smalls is currently one of the most famous black  models working the fashion runways and publishing circuit. She was signed by Elite models in 2007 immediately finishing college. In 2012 she was named the highest-ranking model in the world by models.com because she has covered almost all high-fashion magazines and according to Elle magazine Joan Smalls achievements marks "The Return Of The Supermodel".

This Black History month we say congratulations and thank you to these remarkable women who did not allow racial barriers to prevent them from leaving their mark on history.

Which featured black designer/model's story inspired you? Share with us by leaving a comment below. And don't forget to share this post using the hashtag  #28daysofblackhistory.

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  1. Joan smalls look is on point such a rich lavender...2 thumbs up!

  2. Beautiful look and beautiful women.!!

  3. Amazing makeup look +Lush Fab Glam

  4. Love Joans colors♥♥♥

  5. Love Naomi lip color

  6. Thank you very much for writing such an interesting article on this topic. This has really made me think and I hope to read more.


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