Legends aren’t made, they’re born and Bethann Hardison is the ultimate fashion ‘Godmother,’ who has paved the way for women of color in the fashion industry over the last decades.
As one of the very first black models on 7th ave. to walk down the runways (which were exclusively reserved for caucasians only during the 70’s), Hardison would soon become the catalyst for change that the industry undeniably needed.
In her latest documentary, “Invisible Beauty,” the film captures Bethann in all her glory, including a glimpse inside her modeling days, her relationship with her son Kadeem Hardison, her modeling agency, and the importance of the Black Girls Coalition, which is an advocacy/support group for models of color that was founded by Hardison.
Originally from the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, Hardison indubitable impact extends far back to when she was first discovered by African American designer, Willie Smith in the late 60’s.
From there, she would go on to to travel and model across the globe including France where she stole the show during the Battle of Versailles, by placing an obscure object on top of her head during designer Stephen Burrows debut.
While reminiscing and reflecting back on that moment in “Invisible Beauty,” Hardison states,
“When I hit that stage, I put something in my head that was defying the audience. And so as I go down the center, the more I walked, the harder and stronger, and more intense I became with the audience. I looked at them with such disdain and such strength. That moment I stood and never moved. I let them know, “We are here!”
That was a pivotal moment for Bethann Hardison as she discovered the power she had to change the trajectory of what it meant to be a black women in fashion, where diversity was scarce and opportunities were limited.
After she retired from modeling alongside the legendary Iman Abdulmajid, she created her own modeling agency in 1984, called the ‘Bethann Management Agency,’ where she represented models like Naomi Campbell, Tyson Beckford and Kimora Lee Simmons.
Her goal was to bring diversity to the runway and properly integrate model of colors despite institutionalized racism. Hardison statement was loud and clear that “Black is Beautiful,” and she went to bat to raise consciousness and ensure models of color never felt invisible.
Fashion Bomb CEO, Claire Sulmers had the opportunity to personally meet Hardison during Sergio Hudson Fashion Show in Los Angeles, and was even able to celebrate the ‘Invisible Beauty’ film with Hardison’s son Kadeem and friends.
Sulmers, like many others is inspired by all of Hardison’s efforts and endeavors to highlight and challenge the inequalities of the fashion industry. Hardison may have laid the foundation, but our job is to remain active in the fight and activism against discrimination in the fashion industry.
To celebrate the film, “Invisible Beauty,” Fashion Bomb daily has partnered with @Magnoliapics and @Invisiblebeauty to celebrate Bethann Hardison’s new film with an exclusive limited release hoodie by The BK Circus.
The double fleece lined hood and body that features a “B” on the front, and ‘Invisible Beauty’ on the back, has sewn eyelets and seams that are finished with a reverse cover stick for a premium look.
You have until Monday, Nov. 6th to enter for a chance to win this exclusive hoodie, and all you need to do is “Like the Post” below, “Tag a Friend” that should watch the documentary, and “Share to your story” and tag, @Magnoliapics, @InvisibleBeautyFilm, and @fashionbombdaily.
We can assure you that this is one documentary that you don’t want to miss especially if you are or aspire to be in the fashion industry. It’s trailblazers like Bethann Hardison who has given us a platform to shine bright in an industry where people often don’t think blacks belong.
Without Hardison, and her unyielding fight and radical heart, who’s to say where we would be in terms of designers taking new initiatives to integrate and become more inclusive. She is a true “hero”, and it’s essential that we honor her and keep her legacy going.