On the eve of New York Fashion Week 2015, supermodel Beverly Johnson was celebrated for her groundbreaking career at the Museum of the City of New York. Against a backdrop of violinists and cocktails, the star-studded event featured luminaries such as celebrity attorney Gloria Allred and music mogul Clive Davis, who were on hand to honor Johnson, who became the first Black woman on the cover of Vogue in August 1974 and who broke ground for women of color in the world of fashion modeling, setting a standard for supermodels to follow for generations.
“She’s been a great personal friend of mine for about 20 or 25 years,” said Davis. “I know that she’s been pioneering and I want to read the details! And I’m here to support the book as a friend and I want to read the book as a fan. Anybody who’s been there fighting the battle and doing it as graciously and with such dignity as Beverly has done is special.”
Johnson was clearly touched by the affection and the reverence of the evening, which she shared with friends and family.
“It’s very important and it was time,” said Johnson. “I wanted to release it while I could still remember! And I’m so excited to share it with all of these wonderful friends who have come out to support and show their love and it means the world to me. Sometimes we need to stop and celebrate moments in life. This is one of those moments.”
Johnson’s daughter, Anansa Sims, praised her mom for inspiring her own successful career as a plus-size fashion model.
“I’m so proud of my mom,” said Sims. “I’m just beaming.”
“My mom was one of the first major black models, she broke through barriers,” she added. “Being a plus-sized woman and a curvy woman, I’m breaking barriers in my own kind of way. She really inspired me to step out and be the person that you are and do things that you don’t normally see. Back then, you didn’t see women of color on magazine covers.”