Black History Month has met its mid-point, but that doesn’t mean the celebration of black excellence should halt.
Our commemoration of Black History Month continues with the second installment of Black History Month Does Fashion, the highlighting of black supermodels of the future.
In this first part of the series, we highlighted the original path builders who brought color to the mute runway: two of the timeless beauties of Versailles, Bethann Hardison and Pat Cleveland, and the first black model to be featured on the cover of Vogue, Beverly Johnson.
In our second installment, we enlightened readers on the back-stories of the Supermodels of the present, Naomi Campbell, Iman and Tyra Banks. While these women may no longer be running the runways, they were some of the first black women to be considered supermodels and have since continued to grow their brands exponentially as business women off of the runway inspiring the younger generations and breaking model stereotypes.
In the final installment to Black History Does Fashion, we will highlight the supermodels of the future, young women who are engrossed in budding modeling careers that are following in the footsteps of the Super models of both past and present. This week, the model spotlight is on the greatness of Jourdan Dunn, Chanel Iman, and Liya Kedebe.
Through both their careers and their personal lives, and with the help of the models who came before them, these young women have transcended barriers and we believe they have the potential to leave an impressionable stamp on the fashion game in the future.
Not many women who make a living as models have spoken out on their quarrels with the modeling industry; bur Jourdan Dunn is an exceptional case.
Born in London in 1990 Jourdan was discovered while browsing a store in her hometown in 2006, and before the Londonite could adjust to teetering heels, she was featured in a multitude of runway shows, including Prada’s where she was the first black model to grace the Prada runway in over 10 years. The next year, Jourdan was featured on the cover of Italian Vogue and in the same month was featured in an editorial for American Vogue.
During the height of her modeling career, Jourdan gave birth to her first child, Riley (who suffers from Sickle-cell), in December of 2009, but not before she walked the spring Jean Paul Gaultier show in Paris, while notably pregnant.
Jourdan is famous for speaking her mind when it comes to the omission of black models on the runway, during a cover story for I-D Magazine saying “There are loads of black models working and the idea that there's only a few of us, or four of us, to let in as top models at any one time is just bullshit.”
She also took to her Twitter page backstage at a fashion show and tweeted “I swear some people need to learn how to do black hair/skin.”
Based on her name solely, it is clear that Chanel Iman was born to be famous. The Atlanta Native was discovered by Ford Models and her career skyrocketed from there as her distinct features and leggy body sparked the interest in many fashion heavy hitters including Vogue Editor in Chief, Anna Wintour. Which led to Chanel being presented on the May 2007 cover of American Vogue as one of the “World’s Next Top Models.”
Throughout her career, the 21 year old has covered a total of 16 magazine covers and counting. She has been featured in 5 ad campaigns, and is also a Victoria’s Secret Angel.
As for her runway career, in spring of 2009, Chanel was featured as the first Black model in 8 years to walk for Gucci, but her fists did not stop there. At just 16, Chanel was the youngest model to ever grace the cover of American Vogue and just the third black Vogue model to ever grace the cover of the fashion magazine.
At 21, Chanel is already making strides in to business avenues by opening a boutique in California called The Red Bag with the help of her mother.
Ethiopian born Liya Kedebe may be a bit older than the other ladies featured on our supermodels of the future feature, but at 34 the model has proved her staying power. Liya went from providing her own shoes for Ethiopian runway shows, to covering over half a dozen magazine covers including Italian, Japanese, American, French and Spanish Vogue. In addition to her print work, Liya is frequents runways and was the first Ethiopian to serve as the face of Estee Lauder cosmetics.
Aside from her stunning features and model life, Liya is also committed to making serious change off the runway. The model founded The Liya Kebede Foundation that is committed to ensuring that every woman, no matter where she lives, has access to life-saving care as it relates to child bearing.
The Black History Does Fashion Supermodels of Past, Present and Future, has come to an end, but that doesn’t mean that learning about the tastemakers and trail blazers in the industry has to end. Stay enlightened, and aspire to live up to the oldest cliché of making the world a better place.