Showroom Celebrates: Beverly Johnson & Iman

Posted by Erin Carter on

This year's theme for Black History Month is African Americans and the Arts and what better way to celebrate than to honor the models that ruled the runway in the 60s and 70s along with other legends that transformed the world of fashion. Follow along all month as we walk the runway of nostalgia and celebrate the Black icons that made history.
Ambitious and successful even as a child, she was a competitive swimmer who nearly qualified for the 1968 Olympics in the 100-meter freestyle.  She grew up wanting to be an attorney.  She attended Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts on a full scholarship where she studied criminal justice in preparation for law school.
While on summer break in 1971, at the age of 19, Johnson and her mother visited Madison Avenue in New York to interview at various modeling agencies.  After she was turned down by a number of prestigious agencies, she was hired on the spot to model for Glamour Magazine
In 1974, Vogue approached Johnson to be on its cover. Her cover was so popular that Vogue placed her there again in its special June 1975 “American Woman” edition.  Johnson’s popularity became global as she became the first African American woman on the cover of Elle.
Johnson used her modeling success to branch out into film, television, and music. She also started a successful business, the Beverly Johnson Hair Collection, which makes wigs and hair products.
In 1973, Iman was 18 and a student of political science at the University of Nairobi. She also worked as a translator to help pay her tuition costs. Photographer Peter Beard, a well-known figure in the fashion world, saw her one day on a street in Nairobi and was captivated by her grace.
After moving to New York, she signed to the modeling agency Wilhelmina and Iman began a career on haute-couture runways and in the pages of fashion magazines such as Vogue and Harper's Bazaar.
She was instantly a favorite with designers and editors alike and was one of first models in her day to be successful in both print and on the runway.
eamed with Byron Barnes, a onetime makeup artist who had helped create a previous line of cosmetics for women of color. Iman came up with an innovative product line, and packaged it with her own name and very recognizable visage.
After her experience with Somali relief efforts, Iman continued to serve as an activist on several fronts. She became a successful fundraiser for Marion Wright Edelman's Children's Defense Fund.

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