A Tribute to Naomi Sims: The First Black Supermodel

Photo via www.naomisims.comPhoto via www.naomisims.comThe month: November, 1968. The milestone: Naomi Sims became the first African-American model to appear on the cover of a mainstream women's publication, Ladies' Home Journal. The cover began what was to become Sims's legacy-that of a ground-breaking model turned cosmetics businesswoman. Sadly, Sims died of cancer Saturday in Newark, New Jersey at age 61.

Although she struggled at first trying to break into modeling as a teenager, Sims rose to fame quickly, working for Halston, Teal Traina, Fernando Sanchez and Giorgio di Sant'Angelo. (Halston called her the first black supermodel.) Harold Koda and Kohle Yohannan, curators of the current Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition "The Model as Muse" credited her with helping express the "Black is Beautiful" movement; two images of Sims are featured in that exhibition. Sims gave up modeling in 1973 to start the Naomi Sims Collection, a business that made wigs designed for black women. Her company grew to feature cosmetics, beauty salons, and a fragrance. She is also the author of multiple books on modeling and beauty, including All About Health and Beauty for the Black Woman.

Naomi Sims paved the way for many black supermodels to come, such as Iman. Read about the controversial tale of Iman being discovered in a "jungle".


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