Women's History Month 2024: 10 Iconic Models Who Re-Invented the Cat Walk

Since these models broke into the fashion world, runways have never looked better, and that's on period!

We're smack dab in the middle of Women's History Month, and the celebration continues as we highlight Black models who have broken barriers in the fashion and beauty industry. These women have contributed to glass-shattering feats that have also paved the way for a new generation of fashion stars who are charting their own course.

Related: Women’s History Month 2024: 10 Phenomenal Black Women Who Are Worth A Follow On TikTok

From the most distinguished fashion publications to luxury fashion houses, these beauties have defied the odds, one pose at a time.

Here are 10 models whose influence continues to impact the fashion and beauty industry.

  • Naomi Campbell

    This is the original baddie. When Campbell first stepped onto the scene in the 80s, she put one foot in front of her while shouldering the essence of her Blackness.

    Throughout her career, Campbell has remained one of the most in-demand models of all time.

    This year, she modeled in Dolce & Gabbana's Womenswear Fall/Winter 2024-2025 fashion show during Milan Fashion Week.

    A tribute to her career has been erected in an exhibit in London, England that features her most buzzed-about garments worn throughout her 40-year career. 

  • Beverly Johnson

    When this queen got into the business, heads turned, and heads are still turning.

    Johnson made history in 1974 when she became the first Black woman to appear on the cover of Vogue (USA).

    She has also starred in film and TV roles including the comedy sitcom "Martin" and Tyler Perry's "Good Deeds."

  • Iman

    This Somalian-born model shook up the fashion world in 1976 when she landed her first modeling gig with Vogue, and she's been a force ever since.

    Not only has Iman raised the bar in the fashion and beauty world, but she has her stakes in it, literally.

    In 1994, she launched Iman Cosmetics which caters to a variety of skin types and deeper complexions. The brand –which includes products for the entire face– continues to be a staple in beauty routines today.

  • Tyra Banks

    From smizing to coaching, this top model continues to re-invent herself. Banks' career began as a young model raised by a single mom in Inglewood, CA who would go on to grace the runways of some of fashion's most elite designers including Valentino, Giorgio Armani, and Fendi, among others.

    In 1996, she made history as the first Banks woman to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated and the cover of GQ.

    During this decade, she also gained her wings as a Victoria's Secret model and later became a panelist and mentor on America's Next Top Model in 2003.

    Then in 2020, she founded her own ice cream company, Smize Cream, but the company re-relaunched in January 2023 as Smize & Dream. The dessert features a variety of flavors from Caramel Cookie Queen to Strawberry BirthYAH! Cake.

  • Precious Lee

    Our Sis, Lee is "it." She's a curvy babe who knows how to strike a pose and handle the runway like a boss.

    This 5'10 beauty began her modeling career at 18 while living in the ATL, and in 2021, she made history with two other curvy models who walked the Versace Spring/Summer 2022 show.

    Last year, she landed the cover of Vogue's April 2023 cover with Paloma Elsesser and Jill Kortleve.

    Lee's milestones keep getting bigger and we know her star meter will continue to rise.

  • Alek Wek

    The modeling would be in a scramble without this beauty. Wek has always been that gworl!

    This South Sudanese-British model took the industry by storm in the 90s and has been showing us how it's done since.

    In 1997, she made history as the first African woman to grace the cover of Elle in the United States, as cited by Forbes.

    Wek has traveled across the globe for gigs with Vogue to Ebony, and luxury labels including Christian Dior and Marc Jacobs, among others.

    During her career, she has also been an advocate in the fight against HIV/Aids.

  • Grace Jones

    It's likely that this queen came out of the womb voguing.

    At 18, her edgy style garnered the attention of Wilhelmina who eventually signed her. After that, she modeled for Vogue, Elle, and Yves Saint Laurent.

    Today, her influence remains.

    Earlier this month, she was spotted at the Lacoste Womenswear Fall/Winter 2024-2025 show during Paris Fashion Week.

  • Adut Akech

    Before this model entered the fashion world, she had already lived an experience that would impact the rest of her life. As a young girl, Akech spent eight years of her upbringing in a Kenyan refugee camp.

    Then at 13, she was scouted by an agency in Australia.

    After that, Akech has been unstoppable.

    She has worked on campaigns for Prada, Valentino, Givenchy, and Off-White to name a few. She's also appeared in Vogue in the United States, Italy, and Paris.

    In 2019, she was awarded British Fashion's "Model of the Year."

  • Maria Borges

    Borges's life before fame is filled with humble beginnings. When she was 11, her mom died and her older sister stepped up to take care of them. She also found employment at a grocery store to make ends meet.

    Still, more was on the horizon for her.

    After working as a model in Europe, she gained the attention of an agency in New York, but a hurdle stood in the way. They required she prove herself first before offering Borges a contract. After attending 30 castings in a week, and booking 17 jobs, she told Forbes the agency finally welcomed her in.

    Since then, this Angolan model has reached major highs in her career.

    She's been on the cover of ELLE, Vogue, and Harper's Bazaar, and has walked runways for Oscar de la Renta, Versace, and Ralph Lauren.

  • Diandra Forrest

    This model's superpower is in the power DNA. As a beauty with albinism, she had reinforced why representation is necessary.

    Forrest began modeling at 18, but it would take many years for her to embrace her natural. Now, is a force who recognizes the strength within her beauty.

    "My albinism is a part of me—and it’s beautiful—but it’s not all of me. It makes me who I am, but it doesn't make me as a whole," she told Glamour in 2017. That same year, she made history as the first Albino woman to star in a beauty campaign for Wet n Wild cosmetics, as reported by Ebony.

    In 2013, she starred in Beyoncé's "Pretty Hurts" music video. Forrest has also been seen in Vanity Fair Italia and Ebony.

    Her footprint has also been seen outside of the fashion industry. She is an activist with the United Nations of Human Rights to gain awareness and combat stigmas against the Albino community.

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