Model Melanin: Pioneering the Past & Present  

I was thrilled to see the amount of melanin that sashayed and served down Marc Jacobs FW17 show. So much black, brown, and butterscotch (as my friend Dani would say)giving me life during a time when the method is usually to hire two high-profile models of color (Jourdan Dunn or Joan Smalls if they’re lucky) for diversity points, while the rest of the show remains whiter than Taylor Swift’s dancing.

However, every detail of the show was brilliant. From its NYC backdrop to the designer’s use of models that actually look like the women who live in NYC. In a world where two brilliantly beautiful black women like Beyonce and Rihanna can’t even occupy the same sentence without being pit against each other; it was magical to see so much model melanin on display.


Seeing the show made me think about how beautiful it must have been for all those brown faces to arrive backstage and see those they’d usally be competing with, all booked and getting a check. It also made me think about the magnificent models of the 70s during the golden age of fashion, that reminded designers of the incredible joie de vivré that models of color bring to the runway; models that opened doors for such expressions to be possible.

Bethann Hardison
Pat Cleveland
Beverly Johnson
Grace Jones
Donyale Luna
Billie Blair
Norma Jean Darden
Ramona Saunders

and countless others black models who have been uncredited or forgotten; thank you. Thank you for opening doors for Naomi, Katoucha, Tyra, and others that have followed in your footsteps. For paving the way for models like Winnie Harlow and Halima Dean to continue to push black girl boundaries even further. Your contributions to Black History and fashion history are felt, respected, and most certainly still making an impact.

*Note: I do not own the any of these images. If you are the owner of these images and wish to be credited or removed please email me ron@thepurplelemonade com

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