05 October 2012

Black Fashion Models | Part 1

Before supermodel Naomi Campbell, only Naomi Sims (widely acknowledged as the first black supermodel) and Beverly Johnson had managed to break through the white ideal and carve out names for themselves within the industry.

Naomi Sims

Beverly Johnson

Supermodels Naomi Campbell and in recent years, Jourdan Dunn are two of the UK’s biggest dark skinned black female fashion models. 
Campbell made history in 1998 by becoming the first black woman to feature on the covers of French and British Vogue after her friend and mentor, designer Yves St. Laurent, threatened to withdraw his advertising from the magazine if it continued to refuse to place black models on its cover. Being one of so few black models in the business, particularly in the 1990s, when she was arguably the only black model of serious note, her meteoric rise was fraught with tension, coupled with even more scrutiny and rejection simply because of the color of her skin. In the midst of the 1990s supermodel group, Naomi said that “there was an unwritten rule that only one of them could be black."

Naomi Campbell

90s Supermodel group

Jourdan Dunn

When African American model Tyra Banks came onto the scene, she was hailed as the ‘new’ Naomi and a Naomi ‘lookalike,’ despite looking totally different. Such race-based comparisons are nothing new for black models. 

Recently, the news media has been discussing the lack of black fashion models in the fashion industry, with fewer and fewer making the headlines or becoming super models, of ethnic origin. Both Campbell and Dunn have commented several times about the lack of representation of black models and the racism that still exists in the beauty and fashion industry. In Campbell’s earlier years, she often spoke out about being paid less than her white counterparts, despite being considered one of the best-known models of the time. Talking about this matter she said, “As a black woman, I am still an exception in this business. I always have to work harder to be treated equally." On Forbes magazine's 2011 list of the 10 top-earning models, not one is black. The top three are Gisele Bundchen, Heidi Klum and Kate Moss, all being white skinned.

Gisele Bundchen

Heidi Klum

Kate Moss

No comments:

Post a Comment