After she closed her agency in 1996, people told her the modeling business was slipping without her. “I didn’t want that responsibility,”she says. “The New York Times interviewed me and they wanted to know what was going to happen to all the people I’d helped. And that, at the time, was people of color. And I was like, they’re fine, they’re gonna be fine. And honey, little by little, it has died.”–About Bethann Hardison, New York Magazine

So I received so many great, reflective comments from my last post, that I really didn’t think I could go back to my standard fair immediately. Yep, the Emmy’s were last night, but I decided that I’d give you a bit of something that you wouldn’t find anywhere else.
So Bethann Hardison organized and acted as moderator for the panel discussion I attended last Friday. To be honest, even I didn’t know who she was when I sat down….


But this is a woman that you must know if you have any interst in fashion or fashion history. Bethann was a huge model in the 60’s and 70’s, and did a lot to diversify the industry, later, as a model agent.
According to this article, Hardison grew up in Brooklyn in a family of devout Muslims. She was always known for rocking the boat: she was her high school’s first African American cheerleader, and was the first African American salesperson to work a New York City garment district showroom.
Designer Willi Smith met her in an elevator, and asked her to model for him. That opportunity led to more, and she eventually became one of a small group of black models in the early 1970’s who worked for huge European designers and had spreads in Vogue (yes, Vogue), and Harper’s Bazaar.

After modeling, she became an agent, first at an agency called Click and afterwards for her own company, Bethann Management. She focused on models of color, and apparently made the careers of Veronica Webb, Talisa Soto, and Tyson Beckford, and was “like a coach” to Naomi Campbell.
It seems Bethann is no stranger to holding conferences. She held something similar to the forum last Friday in the early 90’s, and skewered the top players in fashion for subtle racism. Apparently, a few months later Naomi Campbell became the first woman of African descent to grace the cover of Allure… Seeing that Bethann is ‘results oriented,’ I’m hoping that this conference effects a similar positive change on the industry. It’s about time!
Stay tuned for further developments…
PS Another little fun fact: Bethann is Kadeem Hardison’s mother. Remember ‘Dwayne Wayne’ from ‘A Different World.’????

So funny!
PSS Read more about Bethann here.

6 thoughts on “You Should Know: Bethann Hardison”

  1. WoW – the thoughts “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” keeps ringing as I read through this post.

    I watched Bethann dance and prance jovially across the room of the KLS dinner and after party and wondered who she was?…i thought oh “she’s sooo cute, I wonder whose mum or grandma she is”…{Disregarding her of any importance to fashion…LoL}.

    Obviously, I had no clue the hand she may have played in bringing PPL of colour to the forefront of fashion!!

    Thanks Claire, for your enlightening and somewhat educational post!! hehehe


  2. I have a few comments:
    1. I met her at the Tracy Reese show and had no idea who she was…I thought she was Judith Jamison initially!
    2. I met ALT at the same show…and he was really standoffish. I didn’t get a good feeling from him…
    3. The post about the panel was very informative. We don’t see enough of us in the front because there are not enough of us in the back (in charge, that is)

    Great job!

  3. The September issue of Ebony definitley is a good “cliff notes” for a lil history on Blacks in fashion and Ms. Hardison is among those named to the mag’s “Style Hall of Fame.”

  4. What happened to Ajuma Nasenyana? She was becoming the “It” girl with it being dark-skinned and close-cropped/bald head. I saw her walking in a few shows last year but nothing this year. Now I’m only see her in that Target commercial.

  5. WOW! I found it! This is the piece that first showed me the expertise the Claire so excellently renders here at the Fashion Bomb Daily.

    This is how I came to follow The Fashion Bomb. Great post, thank yo uso much!


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