Her mother wanted her to become a nurse, but Donyale Luna, stage name of Peggy Anne Freeman, chose a completely different path. Born in a suburb of Detroit in 1945 and died in Rome in 1979, the woman went down in history for being one of the first African American models to walk the catwalk. She or she, however, she is the first to appear on the cover of a fashion magazine.
She was discovered by the English photographer David McCabe in New York, where the young woman moved to pursue her dream of working in fashion. This is the same one that between 1964 and 1965 documented the life of Andy Warhol for a year. Success was immediate and conquered everyone in no time. Thanks to her very long legs, flowing dark hair, big eyes, full lips. A charm so far removed from the very blonde models of the time.
In 1965 a portrait of him was published on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar. The following year she, photographed by David Bailey, she too appeared on that of the British edition of Vogue. The first black cover girl, Donyale Luna was not just a model. She loved playing with her body by wearing wigs and colored contact lenses, and she called herself an artist. With her, every fashion show and every photo shoot turned into a performance. She posed naked several times.
Thanks to her singular beauty and eccentric character, she also became Andy Warhol’s muses. In several films, she appeared in several films, including Satyricon (1970) by Federico Fellini and Salomè (1972) by Carmelo Bene, where she acted completely naked and bald. Not only. “Reserved, mysterious, contradictory, evasive, fickle, and fixated on her multiracial lineage,” as reporter Judy Stone put it in the 1968 New York Times, Donyale Luna was also something deeper: she was, perhaps unwittingly, the symbol of an epochal change for fashion. In the words of an English magazine, she and she had the credit for having given a “radical new image of the black woman”.