Spreading Knowledge

Spreading knowledge amongst the women of the world.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Black History Fashion: Donyale Luna

First African American Model featured on British Vogue

Our next fashion icon was a famous model and actress to be the first African American model featured on the cover of Vogue. However, like many victims during the 60's, fame and success involved drug use.

Donyale Luna was born on August 31, 1945 in Detroit, Michigan. Her real name was Peggy Ann Freeman, though she had insisted that her biological father's surname was Luna. Donyale's mother was of Indigenous Mexican and Afro-Egyptian lineage, and whether or not it's true, Donyale claimed that her grandmother was an Irish actress who married a black interior decorator.

Growing up, she was a kooky child with a wild personality. While attending Cass Technical High School during her teen years, she studied journalism and was part of the school choir. She began to refer herself as Donyale during this time as well.
Photo Credit
Donyale was discovered by David McCabe, a British Fashion Photographer, who convinced her to pursue a modeling career in New York. She started off big, appearing on the cover of Harper's Bazaar in 1965. She then moved to London around the same time and appeared on the cover of British Vogue in March of 1966. Her career was taking off, especially considering the Civil Rights Act in 1964 was passed, giving more and more black models an opportunity.

Photo Credit|| The sketch used for the 1965 Harper's Bazaar cover

Photo Credit|| Donyale's Vogue shot
Donyale worked as an actress for a few of Andy Warhol's underground films, and was also seen as a benefactor of African American actrors. She had relationships with a few actors and photographers, including German actor, Klaus Kinski, and her widowed husband, Italian photographer Luigi Cazzaniga.

Featured in a New York Times profile, Donyale confessed for using drugs, such as LSD, stating that she enjoyed it. Her overuse of narcostics soon lead to her her downfall. In May 17, 1979, Donyale, age 32, died from an overdose of heroin while at a friend's house in Rome. Her early death left her husband with their 18 month old daughter, Dream, who for many years did not know anything about her mother.
Photo Credit|| Donyale with her husband, Luigi Cazzaniga

Sunny Days

Though Donyale may have passed away early in her life, she was still considered one kooky girl! She had an eccentric personality that could either brighten someone's day or wonder what the heck was wrong with her! In the 60's, fashion was all about prints and short dresses. Get this wild look when you pair a sleeveless mosaic shift dress with sandals. Complete the look with geometric drop earrings, "groovy" textured sunglasses, and a plain tote to match.

Beauty Inspired

Donyale claimed she had Afro-Egyptian linage, and like Egyptian makeup, the eyes are always dramatic. Use liquid liner to outline your lids, and use the pencil to color in any missed spots. For the nails, stick with something natural, yet bold, like white or pale.

Until next time loves!
~~ReneA P.

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