Saturday, February 1, 2014

Donyale Luna - Fashion's First

Donyale Luna was the first black model to grace a Vogue cover. French Vogue on March 1966.

Born Peggy Anne Freeman in Detroit M.I. on January 1, 1945 (to May 17, 1979), was discovered by photographer David McCabe. As the first black cover model, she also appeared on the cover of Harpers Bazaar in January 1965. In 1967, the mannequin manufacturer Adel Rootstein created a mannequin in Luna's image which was a follow-up to her famous Twiggy mannequin of 1966.

While doing my Fashion's First research on Donyale Luna, I found this quote rather interesting. An article in Time magazine published on April 1, 1966, "The Luna Year", described the dramatically thin and tall (6' 2") model with the hallmark bright blue contact lenses and occasional blonde wig as "a new heavenly body who, because of her striking singularity, promises to remain on high for many a season. Donyale Luna, as she calls herself, is unquestionably the hottest model in Europe at the moment. She is only 20, a Negro, hails from Detroit, and is not to be missed." By all account she was the new "it" girl before the term was coined.

Although Luna was quoted as saying, "I started at the top" when referring to her modeling career, she was reported as being "unprofessional". It is said that this was the decline of her career. In Luna's heyday, fellow model Beverly Johnson was quoted as saying she "doesn't wear shoes winter or summer. Ask her where she's from -- Mars? She went up and down the runways on her hands and knees. She didn't show up for bookings. She didn't have a hard time, she made it hard for herself."

Whatever motivated her, today we celebrate her and pay homage to her fashion legacy.


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