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The world of fashion hasn’t exactly been known for it’s diversity over the years.The first half of the twentieth century elevated a mere handful of black style icons—like the eternally-glamorous flapper Josephine Baker and the 1940’s jazz songstress Billie Holiday—and the march of progress within the fashion industry itself was even slower.She was a participant in the legendary "Battle of Versailles" fashion show in 1973, which pitted old-world designers like Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior against American newbies like Bill Blass and Halston.Here, Hardison is pictured attending the Hearts of Gold Gala in New York City, November 2013.After that I had more than 15 covers." Beverly Johnson started modeling while she was a student at Northeastern University.She was championed by Alexander Liberman, then editorial director of Conde Nast, and ended up booking her first jobs.In 2010, she received a "Fashion Icon" award from the CFDA, and Iman has been married to musician David Bowie since 1992.
Since then, her company has become one of the leading makeup brands for women of color.It seemed that modeling agencies, designers, and editors all tended to look for one type of body, one type of face, and one skin color.Baker and Holiday were major outliers in the racially-segregated, largely conservative milieu of the early to mid-twentieth century, as black women were afforded very little recognition in any field by mainstream media during this time period.Together, they provided a much-needed outlet for black women systematically excluded from the pages of white-targeted fashion publications like and other publications targeted at a black demographic are still very much part of the picture today, the racial exclusion practiced throughout the industry finally began to dwindle with the rise of the Civil Rights Movement.In 1966, two years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, Donyale Luna became the first black model on the cover of any MORE: From Cindy Crawford to Karlie Kloss: The 18 Hottest All-American Models Slowly but surely, black models began to break through the racial divide in fashion.
Blair is pictured here, second from the right, at a reunion of the models from the infamous Models of Versailles event in 2011 at the Metropolitan Museum.