Black models who changed the fashion system

Different from whom?

By Claudia Matrisciano

For too long now, debates have been taking place on the subject of inclusiveness and the world of fashion is not exempt from being criticized over and over again for not being inclusive enough.

These days, more than ever, there have been many attacks on the fashion system, accused of not being inclusive enough and sometimes even racist towards the models and color models (see the latest stories and posts by Diet Prada).

The road is still long, perhaps, unfortunately indeed. There are, however, the voices outside the chorus that have changed history, and here are some names that have made the fashion system a better world.

Beverly Johnson

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R.I.P. .... S.I. Newhouse, Jr., the Chairman Emeritus of Condé Nast, #vogue #glamour #icon #fashion

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We can't start our rankings without mentioning Beverly Johnson, the first African American woman who got the cover of “Vogue America” in 1974.

Since then, fashion has changed forever; after decades it opened its doors to black models.

The portrait of Johnson, taken by Francesco Scavullo, was not gloomy and did not highlight what until then, and unfortunately apparently still today, was considered different, something else. Everything in that picture was regal, haughty, perfect.

Beverly Johnson was where she was supposed to be, that was her place, and from then on it would have been the place, and not just on the cover, of other girls, of other women.

Tyra Banks

«This is for all those who have heard that they are not beautiful enough because of their shapes, their age, their whole. #BanX is here to tell you that you're damn tenacious, and it doesn't matter what others say!».

So Tyra Banks has announced that she is the new cover girl for “Sports Illustrated”. A return after 22 years from her first cover for the magazine, where she was the first black model to be portrayed. This already makes us understand many things about the attitude and tenacity of this great woman.

Known for being the one who tried to dethrone the most famous Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks quickly became an icon and model for many girls.

In fact, right from the start, despite working in the world of fashion, she expressed a very clear concept, that is, the body is mine and I do what I want and I don't care what people think, I am beautiful like this.

In fact, she was one of the first models to bring the concept of body positivity to the fashion system.

After leaving the fashion world, Tyra became a producer, stylist and TV presenter.

For many years, she was bullied by the media who called her fat after portraying her in costume on a Californian beach.

Tyra's response was not long in coming and on live TV she presented herself with the hardcover of the photo of the newspaper, denouncing that the shot had been retouched on purpose, but that even if she had a few extra pounds, what did it matter? Tyra nothing quiet to us.

For some years she has created an alter ego called BanX, a sort of heroine who fights to break down the rigid canons of beauty imposed by society.

We adore you BanX!

Winnie Harlow

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That’s how you feel? 🌸👙💕🌞

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Canadian model and activist born in 1994, she was discovered on Instagram by Tyra Banks who strongly wanted her in the twenty-first edition of “America's Next Top Model”.

Since then her career has only been on the rise. There have been numerous covers, editorials (“Vogue Italia”, “Glamour”, “I-D” and “Dazed” to name a few) and the catwalks that have seen her protagonist.

Her strength? Not only beauty but also having made her vitiligo, diagnosed at the age of four, her business card. This is not today a weakness but a strength and recognition.

Life, however, has not always been fair with the model; as a child, in fact, Winnie was bullied by other children who called her “a zebra”.

Verbal and psychological harassment led her several times to change schools and drop out of high school, even to the point that she even thought of committing suicide.

This violence has not stopped her, on the contrary, has led her to be a point of reference for thousands of girls and, to date, one of the most recognized and sought after models by brands.

Naomi Campbell

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#SelfieSunday 🤍 Text me on my Community number (917) 905-7005 📲 and I’ll try to respond to as many of you as I can for the next few hours 😘

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Sorry I have to add more?

Naomi Campbell, better known as the “Black Venus”. No seriously do I have to add more?

Born in London and included in the ranking of “People” magazine among the 50 most beautiful women in the world, since her beginnings Naomi Campbell has managed to establish herself in the world of fashion, becoming the muse of designers such as Gianni Versace and Dolce&Gabbana, who consecrated her as top model to all effects.

Naomi has always made her physicality and, above all, her personality, strengths. She was the example that did not simply matter the beauty or color of the skin but the attitude of a person.

She is not the classic model that just shows off, it was, in fact, one of the first models who engaged in social work.

In 1994 she met Nelson Mandela at the African National Congress, who supported in his battle against racism and poverty in South Africa, so much so that Mandela himself defined his “granddaughter ad honorem”.

Most of all she fought and still fights against the fashion houses that penalize the black models, becoming the spokesperson of the Diversity Coalition, dragging behind her the consensus of many of her colleagues and representatives of the sector.

In short, Naomi Campbell was and still is the pioneer, the activist and the icon we look at.

We don’t have to say more than: “More inclusiveness!” of every shape, genre and color.