Beverly Johnson, her history-making turn in 1974 as the first African-American Vogue cover model aside, may just be the person who most defined our modern understanding of what makes a model a supermodel. She went on from her modeling career to become a best-selling author, occasional actress, and successful businesswoman, setting the roadmap for the many who would come after her and follow that same path. What set her on such a trailblazing path was her own talent in front of the camera, because in the 1970s, she was one of only a handful of models who could go from haute couture looks to All-American Beauty looks to executive looks; she could do “moneyed” as well as she could do “mom” in her modeling; street style to catalogue shoots. That ability to be anything the camera or the campaign needed her to be is what set her so far apart and above so many of her peers. Her career as a model spanned four decades; from the ’70s to the early 2000s, she would appear on over 500 magazine covers, ranging from Vogue and Cosmopolitan to Glamour, Elle, Essence, and Ebony. Looking over this gallery, you can see why she reached such heights. She had that one hard-to-define quality that separates the models from the supers; an ability to come off approachable and unknowable at the same time. A smiling, beautiful mystery of a person.
[Photo Credit: Pinterest, Worthpoint.com, eBay]