Long before Naomi, Tyra, or Iman first set foot on a runway, there was Donyale Luna, the first black woman to cover Vogue and arguably the first African-American supermodel.
Born Peggy Anne Freeman in 1945, the 6’2” stunner arrived in New York City in 1964 to much success, and was soon traveling the world, appearing in Paris Match, walking for Paco Rabanne, and appearing in several films.
Of her success, she said, “Back in Detroit I wasn’t considered beautiful or anything, but here I’m different… They were looking for a new kind of model, a girl who is beautiful like you’ve never seen before.”
With long limbs, wide eyes (played up by blue or green contact lenses), and a regal stance, she attracted lots of attention. Luna’s career continued on an upward trajectory for most of the late 60’s and early 70’s. In January 1965, a sketch of Luna appeared on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar. That same year she signed an exclusive contract with photographer Richard Avedon.
In 1966, she appeared on the cover of British Vogue (she allegedly covered her nose as not to offend readers). In 1967, Adel Rootstein fashioned a mannequin in Luna’s image.
My her legacy live on.