Beverly Johnson Speaks On Iconic Vogue Cover & Diversity In The Fashion Industry Today

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Beverly Johnson Speaks On Iconic Vogue Cover

Beverly Johnson on Vogue’s August 1974 cover

Former American model turned actress and businesswoman Beverly Johnson was the first Black model to cover Vogue magazine. 40 years later (Next month marks the 40th anniversary of her Vogue cover), the legendary model talked to Women’s Wear Daily about her iconic and history-making cover and the state of diversity in fashion today.

Anything is possible! Keep dreaming until your dreams turn into reality because that is exactly what Johnson did. She left the agency on goods terms to give Wilhelmina Models a try after Eileen Ford told her she would never get a Vogue cover. One day Johnson received a call from Wilhelmina Cooper telling her she was actually the August 1974 cover girl.

Johnson remembering her Vogue cover like it was yesterday: 

I was in my first New York apartment on the East Side — mattress on the floor, candles. I threw on my jeans and ran to the newsstand. All these people were rushing to work trying to buy their papers so I had to wait. Of course, I didn’t have any money on me. I told the guy that it was me on the cover and he kind of rolled his eyes like, ‘Oh lady please, if you were on the cover you would have enough money to buy the magazine,’” she laughed. “I had to go to the phone booth — a phone booth? The girls [in my office] are looking at me like, ‘What’s that?’ — to call my mother collect in Buffalo. We were both screaming [with excitement], but I’m not sure my mother knew what I was talking about.”

Johnson on the lack of Black models in the fashion industry today:

Sometimes we live in this very elitist bubble called the fashion industry.”  “we have become really oblivious to what’s going on in the world,” Johnson said. “I like to think that is the reason.”

According to WWD, “She [Beverly Johnson], along with Bethann Hardison, Iman and Naomi Campbell, will be paying close attention to the number of models of color on the runways in New York this fall. In the meantime, she is working on a biography for Simon & Schuster, shopping around a docu-series, “Beverly Inc.,” selling her signature hair extensions online, branching out into handbags and mineral-based makeup and planning for her wedding next year to investment banker Brian Maillian.”

A couple of other top Black models including Jourdan Dunn and  talked about the problem diversity in the fashion industry.

See Jourdan Dunn talks diversity in the fashion industry.

See Chanel Iman speaks on racism in the fashion industry.

See Naomi Campbell and Bethann Hardison calling out designers for racism.

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Photos Credit: Courtesy Photo | Thomas Iannacone

Source: Women’s Wear Daily 

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Donovan is the CEO and Editor-In-Chief of For all general inquiries please email Donovan has a BA in Journalism & Media Studies from the prestigious Rutgers University. He's currently studying entertainment and fashion law.