1971, Naomi Sims
In the late ’60s and early ‘70s, Mississippi-born Naomi Sims’ dazzling smile graced hundreds of runways and magazines covers all over the world.
Sims broke barriers when she made the cover of Ladies Home Journal in 1968 — becoming the first black model to do so on a mainstream women’s magazine.
Raised in Pittsburgh, she came to New York at age 18 to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology and hit the pavement to jump-start her own modeling career. She became a successful runway walker for big-time designers like Halston and landed a TV campaign for AT&T alongside two other models, one white and one Asian, says the Times.
Upon retiring from catwalking, she started her own business making wigs for African American women after noticing a lack of products available on the market. She later expanded her business to include cosmetics and fragrances, and wrote advice novels, including “How to be a Top Model” and “All About Health and Beauty for the Black Woman,” published in 1986.
Today, two photographs of Sims hang in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Model as Muse” exhibition.
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