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Beverly Johnson Looks Back at Her Iconic Vogue Cover & Diversity in Fashion Today

Beverly Johnson on Vogue's August 1974 cover. She was the first black model to cover the magazine.

Beverly Johnson on Vogue’s August 1974 cover. She was the first black model to cover the magazine.

The first black model to grace the cover of American Vogue talked to WWD about her history-making cover and the state of diversity in fashion today. August will mark the 40 year anniversary of the cover and Johnson recounts the day she made history.

Johnson spoke about being told by Eileen Ford that she’d never be on the cover of Vogue. This conversation ultimately served as the catalyst for Johnson to make the move from Ford to Wilhelmina Models. Then one day after doing a Vogue beauty shoot she received a call from Wilhelmina Cooper telling her that she was in fact the cover girl for the August 1974 Vogue. That cover cemented her place in fashion history and has inspired countless other inspiring models of color to pursue their dreams.

Johnson also didn’t hesitate to mention the lack of models of color in fashion today from the models to the makeup artists. “Sometimes we live in this very elitist bubble called the fashion industry,” Johnson said. “We have become really oblivious to what’s going on in the world.” Johnson also points out that she along with Naomi Campbell, Iman and BethAnn Hardison will keep a sharp eye out on the number of models of color that appear on the runways during fashion weeks.

One of today’s top black models, Jourdan Dunn, also talked to Vogue UK about the problem with diversity in fashion earlier this year. “I don’t know why people applaud designers for having just one ethnic model. It’s not like only one type of woman loves fashion,” she stated.

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