Fashion Forum: First Black Cover?


Who’s on first, Beverly or Donyale?

Above are 2 covers for Vogue. The question was asked in yesterday’s contest, “Who was the first African-American model to grace the cover of AMERICAN VOGUE? Truly the answer is Beverly Johnson, who graced American Vogue in 1974. But, some of my savvy fashion readers brought up Donyale Luna. That answer was technically incorrect, but is a great discussion for the Fashion Forum this week.

Donyale Luna (born Peggy Freeman, Detroit) was the first black model to cover any edition of VOGUE. The picture above is from British Vogue, 1966. As was the opinion in those day, black models were not privy to gaining front covers of international magazines. But, Ms. Luna broke many barriers. She posed for Harper’s Bizarre, Paris Match, and the Italian, French, and British editions of Vogue Magazine while walking the runway for several fashion houses. Time Magazine published a breakthrough article about the, then 20 year old, beauty entitled The Luna Year. Luna was said to be brilliantly beautiful, 6′ 2″ and strikingly thin. She never wore shoes, and admonished a love for the drug LSD. Ms. Luna never accepted her AfricanAmerican heritage and would often wear blue contact lenses and don a blond wig, claiming that her mother was Mexican and deceased father was of another origin, never black. Ms. Luna died at the age of 34, of a drug overdose, in Rome. She is survived by one daughter, Dream, fathered by an Italian photographer.

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