The Face That Changed It All: Beverly Johnson

Beverly Johnson, the first black woman to grace the cover of Vogue, has written her auto biography titled The Face That Changed It All.

To celebrate the release of the book, Beverly had a Q&A session at the Museum of the City of New York hosted by none other than contributing editor at Vogue Andre Leon Talley.

Thanks to the Huffington Post, here are some highlights from that discussion:

On landing the cover of Vogue:

“I was so happy that I ran to a phone booth — some of y’all don’t even know what a phone booth is — and made a collect phone call to my mother. I was screaming, ‘I got the cover of Vogue! I got the cover of Vogue!’ She didn’t really know that was a big deal. And I remember going to the newsstand and going, ‘Oh my god, I forgot my money. I don’t have my purse on me. But this is me!’ And the guy said, ‘If that was you you’d have the money.’ That’s New York.”

On the power of being Vogue’s first black cover model:

“This is the only time in my life where I can say: Oprah, the First Lady, and Beyoncé came after me.”

On black culture’s influence on fashion:

“I believe that every culture contributes to fashion. But, I do remember Polly Mellen telling me, ‘You know where we got hot pants from? We used to go up to Harlem and we would just look at what all the community people were wearing.’

On why there are so few black designers represented in retail:

“There is so much talent and I’m mentoring some of these designers. But it’s a business and it’s a tough business. Retail is really tough. So I think it’s just a matter of time where we are able to combine the two — a good business acumen as well as extraordinary design.”

On the industry’s resistance to plus-size models in high fashion:

“Well actually, they’ve come around because they have really starting to understand now that the size of the American woman is a size 12. My daughter was a plus-size model. … When I was a model and we were super thin — people would look at us in the magazines and in real life and go, ‘Oh she’s a model!’ But they didn’t say, ‘I want to go look like her.’ But now we have to be responsible because young kids and adults look at models and try to emulate that figure — and it’s unrealistic.”

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