Beverly Johnson returns to a changed podium

Beverly Johnson has a simple answer to why she decided to walk the catwalks of two hot designers during New York Fashion Week: they asked.

Johnson, 69 and a grandmother, is one of the original supermodels. As a black woman, she broke barriers and expanded the conventional beauty ideal of the time by appearing on the cover of American Vogue in 1974.

Her career skyrocketed and she became a sought-after face for decades, appearing on the covers of hundreds of magazines.


Johnson, also an author and businesswoman, returned to her modeling roots this week and walked the runway for designers Sergio Hudson and Bibhu Mohapatra. She was the last model to walk in the

Tuesday saw the Mohapatra show, and the crowd cheered and cheered when they recognized her.

Beverly Johnson and fashion designer Bibhu Mohapatra greet the audience during her runway show at New York Fashion Week. (ANGELA WEISS/GETTY IMAGES)

Wearing a flowing white dress – sleeveless on one side and accented with a black floral lace sleeve on the other – Johnson smiled as she slowly took her turn on the runway.

The look included a dramatic, long, billowing black cape that she flipped as she turned. She admitted she needed a little practice before the show.


“After taking that walking lesson, I was fine. It’s a wonderful, beautiful experience,” Johnson said. The Associated Press backstage after Mohapatra’s show, where onlookers crowded around her, taking pictures.

As a fashion pioneer, she is moved by today’s push for more diversity and appreciation of different cultures in the industry.

“All of the models (in the Mohapatra show) were models of color in honor of Black History Month, and – you guys are going to make me cry right now,” Johnson said tearfully.

“2024 will be my 50th anniversary of this historic cover of being the first black woman to grace the cover of American Vogue. So that means a lot to me, this show.

“And the show of Sergio Hudson – the black designer who is making giant strides in the fashion industry. It’s just wonderful to see that,” she said. “I didn’t have that when I was coming in the 70s, 80s and 90s.”

Johnson has attended many fashion weeks over the years and says she has enjoyed spending time with the young models backstage. She found them “beautiful, elegant and wonderful”.

But she noted a big difference between them and her contemporaries.

“The girls are much taller. My Sergio show, I mean, there was no one under 6 feet! Usually before it was like 5-10 and that’s enough!” She said with a smile.

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