February 14th, 2011
Black History Month, Ethnic Models, Fashion News
Black History Month with Fashion Bomb Daily: Renauld White sponsored by African Pride
By Claire


While Sterling St. Jacques made a splash at Studio 54, male model Renauld White revolutionized the industry by demanding equal representation in mainstream publications. In November 1979, White was the first African-American model to appear on the cover of GQ magazine (a fact oft overlooked as the first black man to cover GQ was Swiss born Urs Althaus in 1977).

I actually had a chance to meet and chat with White, who attended the Byron Lars presentation I wrote about on Essence.com. According to White, he got his start when he came to New York from nearby New Jersey one day to demand that agents at Wilhemina models allow more people of color the chance to compete in the industry.

He said, “I wanted to bring about change. I really confronted the establishment about why there were not more black male images. At first I thought I was going to get thrown in jail and beaten up because of my approach. But then they realized that they were wrong and that they were behind society and behind the times, and that they had to listen to me.”

“They offered me a contract because they thought that I would fail. Eventually I proved myself.” White went on to not only cover GQ, but also score major campaigns with Black Tie cologne, Vitalis, and Arrows Shirts. He was the first black man to work the runways for Bill Blass, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, and Ralph Lauren. He also enjoyed success in Europe, where he walked for Yves Saint Laurent, Jean Charles de Castelbajac, Cerutti, Valentino, Armani, and Versace.

White later transitioned into the world of theater. He appeared on the soap opera “The Guiding Light,” for many years and now participates in several plays. His advice for aspiring models is, “We know we have to work…there’s work to be done. I try to talk to as many young people as I can, and encourage them to follow their dreams and to aspire to greater things outside of modeling. Modeling is only a bridge. What are you going to do after modeling is over? I had a 30+ year career, they don’t make those anymore. I encourage them to do amazing things. Take the money, go to school, open up a business, be an entrepreneur, and be self reliant.”

I took a picture with Renauld after speaking with him:

He’s still got it!


This post is sponsored by African Pride


Three times weekly for the next five weeks, African Pride will be giving away a year’s supply of their Olive Miracle line to lucky winners on the brand’s Facebook page.
On March 16th, African Pride will kick off the “My Pride. My Way.” campaign in style with a star-studded soiree at Atlanta’s historic King Plow Event Gallery. Stay tuned for an opportunity to win free event tickets on The Fashion Bomb!

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20 Responses to “Black History Month with Fashion Bomb Daily: Renauld White sponsored by African Pride”

  1. Annie L. says:

    Wow! Talk about selling a lifestyle, that man could model! Those looks just epitomized luxury and art. Love his advice as well, so glad to read that so many Black models understood their careers and had a plan afterward.

  2. Bronze says:

    If this is not the definition of Prince Charming!!!! He should have went st8 from modeling to acting. I would have loved to see him as Magnum P.I….oh the great tv shows there were not all because of racism.

    Does anyone remember the all black clothing catalog from the 70s? I believe he was in that too.

  3. BOOBOO says:

    he reminds me of my dad wit those brown shades on…very dapper:)

  4. Myssdee says:

    I first heard of him through one of my FB friends who is an legendary NJ Designer.
    Great post Claire!

  5. Brooklyn Lady says:

    Wow! Handsome and DAPPER he was (is he still alive?). I love that he has that masculine manly look about him. Not pretty, but handsome! NICE!

  6. sun.kissed says:

    He still looks great! @ Brooklyn Lady, yes he’s alive, Claire interviewed him for this piece!

  7. Cleveland Cutie says:

    great post!

  8. Bonifant says:

    yep GCI

    Sometimes you have to demand your just due. Respect to him challenging them in order to pursue his dreams.

  9. JenG says:

    I remember seeing him in ads.

  10. Daisy says:

    I like how he demanded his right to model. He saw that the industry needed to change, and he was assertive about being a part of that change. I also liked how he had a plan after modeling. I hope the models of this generation will take heed.

  11. bkln.girl82 says:

    wow @Brooklyn Lady “is he alive”
    I know you read this blog regularly b/c you comment often…how did you not recognize this pic from THIS VERY FASHION WEEK!? smh

  12. bkln.girl82 says:

    wow @Brooklyn Lady “is he still alive”
    I know you read this blog regularly b/c you comment often…how did you not recognize this pic from THIS VERY FASHION WEEK!? Plus, Claire said he interviewed him lol smh

    Anyway, great post :)

  13. Starla says:

    I thought it was Billy Dee Williams at first. He oozes raw masculinity.

  14. esme says:

    wow, he was so corageous to demand equal representation for black models. i never heard of him before, but now i’m glad i know his story.

  15. esme says:

    *courageous

  16. zy says:

    He looks like one smooth brother in these pics! I’m awed by his courage, sometimes you really have to just stand up and demand better in order to get it. I applaud him! It’s great to see that he’s still out here doing his thing!

  17. EDUARDO says:

    RENAULD “RJ” WHITE WAS MY ROLE MODEL WHEN I LIVED AND WORKED IN NYC. I DRESSED AND LOOKED LIKE HIM BACK THEN, ACTUALLY GOT A FEW MODEL GIGS. EVENTUALLY I WENT BACK TO COLLEGE AND INTO MEDICINE. I’M RETIRED NOW IN FLORIDA,,,THANKS MAN, I OWE IT ALL TO YOU. MY CONFIDENCE AND SELF ESTEEM WAS THROUGH THE ROOF.

  18. ave says:

    i am so glad you did a story on mr renauld. i remember him as a teen back in the day because he looked like my dad with that gorgeous mustache. i did not know he went on to be on the soaps and broadway. it is so good to know this man’s name and what he has been doing and he is still so handsome.. great job. thanks

  19. Martinique_Fr says:

    Nice!

  20. [...] of most contentious moments in America’s racial history, black models have broken through. Iman, Renauld White, Beverly Peele, Louise Vyent, Jourdan Dunn, and Chanel Iman are just a few of the models that have [...]

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