When you think of African-American super models, you might think of Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell, or Iman Chanel, but there’s was one (among many others) who paved the way, and her name was Pat Cleveland. As one of the first black super models, Pat Cleveland, was a tall and slender beauty with black wavy hair and fair skin.
She was born in New York City in 1952 to parents who were versed in the arts. Her mother was a painter and her father a saxophonist. Her modeling career happened by chance when she was only 15. She was on her way to classes at the LaGuardia Performing Arts school and was spotted on a New York Subway by Carrie Donovan, an assistant editor at Vogue magazine. The assistant editor was so impressed by her style that she invited her to Vogue to do a trail shoot. She was even published in a feature as an up-and-coming young designer in the world famous magazine.
She was soon modeling for Ebony magazine, which gave her a platform and she began to attract the attention of major fashion designers. But success was bittersweet. She grew tired of racism in the US and the modeling industry and moved to Paris in 1970 where she vowed never to return to the US until Vogue printed its first black cover (Beverly Johnson was the first African American model to grace the cover in 1974).
Paris was a fresh start for her. She began modeling for big names designers such as, Christian Dior, Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent, and Oscar de la Renta. The runway became a new success for her because she brought an artsy flair. Janice Dickinson once said, “when she moved, she painted the air around her with the clothes.”
Cleveland continue to model into the 80s. She slowed down her modeling career when she married and had two children. Today she is still a force to be reckon with as an ageless beauty. In her latest gig, she teamed up with her daughter Anna Von Ravenstein (they look like twins!) to model for Zac Posen’s 2014 resort collection.
Q: Gorgeous right?! Who are some of your favorite fashion models? Share in the comments!