In today’s modern day and age, many women of color are still not being represented equally. Thankfully, with black supermodels making a name for themselves in the otherwise extremely difficult world of fashion and modeling, this is something that women hope to overcome. These black supermodels are recognized worldwide, endorsing established brands while serving as inspiration to the rest of the world.
Here’s a list of the top ten black supermodels of all time.
10. Alek Wek
Sudan-born Alek Wek was discovered at a London outdoor market. She was able to catch the attention of the industry when she appeared in the music video of “Golden Eye” by Tina Turner. Since then, she has graced major ads for a lot of companies, including Clinique, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, and Victoria’s Secret among many others.
9. Roshumba Williams
Chicago-native Roshumba Williams was discovered by none other than Yves Saint Lauren, when she was still a teenager on the streets of Paris. Yves Saint Lauren is known for being extremely supportive of models of color, including Iman and Roshumba. In the 1980′s, when a lot of the black models sported long hair, Roshumba Williams stood out with her short cropped hair – something that she is still seen sporting these days. Being featured in Cover Girl, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issues, and Maybelline campaigns are just a few of her most notable achievements.
8. Beverly Peele
Beverly Peele, in all of her eight years in the fashion industry, managed to appear as the cover of more than 250 different magazines. If you look back, you will remember that in the 80′s and the 90′s, models were considered to be a lot more glamorous than even the most popular Hollywood actresses. So when Beverly came into the picture with her girl-next-door quality combined with her being high fashion and edgy, she quickly gained prominence. She appeared in ads for Versace, Ralph Lauren, and Donna Karan as well as in music videos, including that of the song entitled ‘Too Funky’.
7. Kimora Lee (Kimora Lee-Simmons)
A lot of people know Kimora Lee as the ex-wife of Russell Simmons. However, prior to marrying and divorcing Simmons, Kimora was already in a contract with Chanel and was a muse of Karl Lagerfeld. She was only thirteen years old when she was discovered, which makes this achievement of hers extremely impressive. She was able to get the limelight by closing the 1994 haute couture show of Karl Lagerfeld, where she was presented as a child bride.
6. Liya Kebede
Liya Kebede, who was born in Ethiopia, got her break in the fashion industry when Tom Ford chose her in the 2000 Gucci Fall/Winter show. After this, she proceeded in establishing a name for herself as a permanent runway figure on the Milan, Paris, London, and New York circuit. She garnered extreme popularity that she was chosen as the cover of the May 2002 edition of Paris Vogue. She is also the first black model for Estee Lauder.
5. Veronica Webb
Before Veronica Webb became a supermodel, she was actually a design student. After being discovered by a makeup artist, she was recruited to work the catwalk for Issac Mizrahi, Todd Oldham, Karl Lagerfeld, and Azzedine Alaia. In addition to being extremely popular as a runway model, she also became a highly sought-after editorial model. She landed covers for both Elle and Vogue magazines. Veronica Webb’s most notable achievement in the world of modeling is when she became the first black model to sign a contract with major cosmetic company Revlon.
4. Tyra Banks
While Tyra Banks is known for her personality, there is no denying the fact that she has achieved a lot as a black supermodel. If you watched the series America’s Next Top Model, then you know the history of her career. Before she entered the world of commercial modeling, she was a high fashion model first. Since then, she was featured on numerous magazine covers. Tyra Banks is also the first black model to be featured as a cover on the Victoria’s Secret catalog, on Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, and on GQ.
3. Beverly Johnson
Before being featured as the cover of more than 500 different magazines, Beverly Johnson was actually a professional and champion swimmer. She also was the first black model to be the featured cover of a number of magazines, including the German Cosmopolitan Magazine and the French Elle Magazine. Of all the achievements that she obtained as a black model, being featured as the cover of the 1974 issue of the American Vogue cemented her place in the fashion scene. She also successfully launched a wig line.
2. Iman Abdulmajid
Iman Abdulmajid was born in Somali and entered the world of modeling in the year 1975 after she was discovered by Peter Beard. During Iman’s career, she became the first ever African-born model to be featured as German Vogue’s cover. She then proceeded to becoming the muse to Yves Saint Laurent. Her career as a top black model lasted for over a decade. Nowadays, she is known as an author, a cosmetic entrepreneur, and as the wife of David Bowie. She also launched a make-up product line specifically for women of color, which she called IMAN cosmetics. Add this to her becoming a high-profile and extremely well-known humanitarian, and there is no need to wonder why she gets second place on this list.
1. Naomi Campbell
Even if Naomi Campbell is now more well-known for her cellphone throwing antics at her assistants, she still garners the number one spot on this list of the top ten black supermodels of all time. During her career, which was also the peak of the supermodel craze, she was seen to rule the catwalk. It was also during this time where she became part of the group called ‘The Trinity’, which comprised of her, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington. These three supermodels were leaders in the fashion industry, so they were paid with salaries that were unheard of in the world of modeling. Naomi Campbell is also the first ever black model to be featured on a French Vogue cover. There are a lot of things about Campbell that makes her the top black model on this list, and these include being the highest paid supermodel of all time.