They Invented the Supermodel

These ten Black women should all be household names.

By Jason Campbell Aug. 21, 2021

Tyra Banks
Tyra Banks

The only way to start this story — any story, really, about the American Supermodel — is with the Battle of Versailles. The one in 1973. On one side were the French, of course: designers Hubert de Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro, and Marc Bohan for Christian Dior. The other, American: Stephen Burrows, Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Halston, Anne Klein. Each country’s fashion royalty at the time. In theory, it was all for charity, to raise funds to restore the crumbling Versailles Palace. In reality, it was all ego.

We’re here because of ten American models — specifically, the ten Black models, out of 36 Americans total — including Bethann Hardison, Alva Chinn, and Pat Cleveland, who, spinning in layers of chiffon for Halston, owned the night. Those ten women delivered attitude, something no one had been delivering in traditionally stuffy and snoozy fashion presentations. 

Read the article and see the portfolio HERE. Read other articles HERE.

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