Bethann Hardison has played a pivotal role in diversifying the fashion industry. She is an advocate for minority models and can be considered the civil rights leader for the industry. Bethann is quite the heroine, yet surprisingly enough many people have never heard her name. Her name is one that every fashionista should remember, especially ones of color.
Bethann started her career in New York’s garment district as the first African American salesperson to work in a showroom. She was later discovered by African American designer Willi Smith in the late 1960′s. She became Smith’s fit model which led to other modeling work and from there Bethann, the model was born. African American models on the runway at the time, similar to now were few and far between.
In the 1980′s, Bethann became a booker at a friends modeling agency, Click. She was soon promoted to the head of the agencies women division. At that time Bethann began to defy the industries beauty standards and became known for booking non conventional models with exotic features. With the courage and financial backing of a friend Bethann started her own scouting agency Bethann Management. Bethann did not want her agency to be solely an agency for models of color. She wanted to use her agency to make a larger impact and add diversity to the industry. Bethann’s agency launched the careers of several models including Veronica Webb and Tyson Beckford. She has also been instrumental in the continued longevity as well as the launch of Naomi Campbell’s career. Bethann said to American photo about her agency “I want to do more than just run an agency, I’m here to give other young women an opportunity. I want them to know there’s someone who will take time to communicate with them.”
During the late 1980′s, Bethann and close friend Iman teamed up to start Black Girls Coalition, a group of “industry insiders whose goal is to change the status quo.” Bethann retired to further dedicate herself to change she held several town hall meetings, conferences and participated in documentaries about the industries lack of diversity. It is believed that Bethann’s call for change during what has been referred to as the the fashion industries “white out” is what led to Vogue Italia’s “the Black Issue”. The magazines flew off newsstands and for the first time in history the magazine sold out. In 2010, Bethann became the editor-at-large for Vogue Italia “Black” a section of Vogue Italia’s website that is dedicated to black models.
Another little known fact is that Bethann is the mother of actor Kadeem Hardison aka Dwayne Wayne from the television sitcom A Different World.
Here is a short video of Bethann talking about her life.
Info Credit: answers.com/topic/bethann-hardison
Sorry this was supposed to be yesterdays post but it appears that one of the pictures I downloaded for this post had a little of malware attached, so I was having computer issues. Don’t worry I deleted the picture and it was not included in this post. I hope that you enjoyed today’s highlight. Enjoy your weekend and I will resume highlights next week. Thanks for reading.
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