Fashion Reverie takes a look back at Donyale Luna, the first African American cover girl. Born Peggy Ann Freeman, Donyale Luna moved to New York City after being discovered by photographer David McCabe. At the beginning of her career, Luna was under exclusive contract with famed photographer Richard Avedon. A sketch photo of Donyale Luna appeared on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar in 1965. And in 1966 she was the first African American model to appear on the cover of British Vogue.
At 6`2 with blue contact lenses, Donyale Luna represented the expanding fashion palette for new, interesting faces that reflected the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 70s. Donyale Luna had a burgeoning acting career appearing in several Warhol’s films including Screen Test: Donyale Luna (1964), Camp (1965), and Donyale Luna (1967), as well as Frederico Fellini Satryicon (1970) and Otto Preminger’s comedy Skidoo.
Though Donyale Luna modeling and acting career was marked by erratic behavior and drug abuse, Luna played a significant role in opening the doors for such African American models as Naomi Sims, Pat Cleveland, Bethann Hardison, and many others.
Donyale Luna died in Rome in 1979 of an accidental drug overdose.