Donyale Luna

I was reading the recent NY Times article on “IT” celeb-of-sorts Andre J, the bearded Vogue covergirl, and in the piece it said that (s)he spends time on Google looking up tragic lost model Donyale Luna. So of course, I am so drawn to the tragic lost variety of story, and had to go straight to Google myself to see what’s up. (There are a ton of links, but I decided the one I used was the most thorough.) Well, I didn’t know that Donyale Luna was in fact a Detroiter (my homegirl!), who rose to fame it the 60s as the first African American on the covers of major fashion press, and also was part of Warhol’s factory, among other film appearances. Having read tons about Warhol, going to the museum in Pittsburgh, and seeing every type of movie possible, I must have somehow missed her. Anyway, she was a tragic and mysterious character, with a sketchy background that she got away from through fantastical stories about a global history. There are some great shots of her in Paco Rabine clothes and much more, and Adel Rootstein even did a mannequin of her. However, she died of drugs in the late 70s, after fading into obscurity and has been mostly forgotten as people credit Beverly Johnson and Iman as the first women of color to make an impact on the fashion scene. Glad that the NY Times put that little side thought in, as I really enjoyed learning about a lost icon. All the sites seem to describe a biopic en route, but who knows when.

There are so many people like this, and it’s too bad we cannot make biopics and write books about all of them. But, the beauty of the Internet is that we can learn about them all in a click. In thinking about my subcultural studies of late, I can think of tons of people who would make for interesting biopics, books, articles, etc who made quick but lasting impacts on the world of fashion. That’s why I love those movies about Leigh Bowery, Peter Berlin, and more. I have a few tucked away for when I have the chance one day to showcase someone. Let me know if you ahve any suggestions of anyone else to Google to draw out of obscurity.

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