Veronica Webb is someone who doesn’t let anyone or anything stand in her way. Since the beginning, Webb has been breaking barriers, and she is known as one of the first African American supermodels in the beauty and fashion industries.
One of the first African-American supermodels, Veronica Webb, discloses her beauty within the pages of “Supreme Models: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Fashion” by Marcellas Reynolds; here we feature an excerpt of the book showcasing its iconic imagery. Webb beautifully wears many hats: an activist, actress, and writer, with a portfolio of covers on American Vogue, Vogue Italia, Elle, and Marie Claire France. In 1992, she became the first Black model to sign a major cosmetics contract, and has worked with designers like Versace, Azzedine Alaïa, Chanel, Kanye West, Isaac Mizrahi, and more.
Currently, she runs “Webb On The Fly,” a blog dedicated to beauty, fitness, and wellness. These focal points all stem from Webb’s own journey as an evolving model, mother, and wife, adding a personal touch to her blog. Webb even jumps off the screen and hops on the road to speak at lectures and collaborate with various brands.
Today, the mother of four is a marathoner who continues to model. Her motto is, ”Own your age, your beauty, your power.”
Marcellas Reynolds: Your discovery as a model is legendary. You were selling housewares in a department store while attending Parsons.
Veronica Webb: No, it was a really chic Soho boutique! I always knew to go where your audience is. Whatever you’re doing, go somewhere that puts you in the path of what you want to do. I was working behind the cash register one day when this French hairdresser came in, and said, “I’m a hair-dresser. Oh, my God! Your features. You definitely should be a model.” It was like something out of a movie. I thought it was a joke, or a pickup line — or, he was just a New York character. Twenty minutes later, this English makeup artist came in and said, “Oh, darling. Vincent did say you were here. My goodness, he’s one-hundred-percent correct. You are going to do well, darling. You should become a model.” Thirty minutes later, like out of a sixties musical, Eileen Ford’s son, Billy Ford, came by. “Hi, I’m Billy. I think you might have a chance of being a model.”
Marcellas Reynolds: Azzedine always used women of color in his shows and ads—Ilonka, Karen Alexander, Lana Ogilvie, you and Naomi Campbell.
Veronica Webb: Azzedine was a world citizen, and he loved beauty. Just like Yves Saint Laurent. Did you know that Azzedine, Karl Lagerfeld, and Yves Saint Laurent all worked together as assistants at Dior at the same time?
Marcellas Reynolds: No!
Veronica Webb: Yes. Azzedine had a very Mediterranean African aesthetic because he’s Tunisian. The same as Yves Saint Laurent, who’s Algerian. They saw beauty in a much more global way because Africa has such rich, diverse
Veronica Webb: And it’s in the same way that, with Iman, with Pat Cleveland, if they hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t be here.
Marcellas Reynolds: That’s why I wrote “Supreme Models.” I wanted to document the history and the triumphs of Black models in fashion.
Veronica Webb: I can’t thank you enough for writing “Supreme Models.” It’s a love letter to me and every other Black model like me who dreamed of being in this industry or who’s in this industry, and has hopes and dreams for every girl coming down the runway after us.
Marcellas Reynolds: It means so much to so many people. We all need to see ourselves beautifully represented.
Marcellas Reynolds: Tell me about your Revlon contract.
Veronica Webb: Revlon is something that I’m proud of because I was considered a different kind of beauty. Especially for the commercial market. Once Revlon signed me in 1992, I felt like it changed everything; and so, my daughters have grown up in a world where they see women of different sizes, races, preferences, and orientations presented as aspirational symbols of beauty in cosmetics ads. That’s a beautiful change to be part of in the world.
Marcellas Reynolds: One thing happens that’s monumental and forces the hand of everyone else. So now you’re a contract model with Revlon. It opens the door for Tomiko with Maybelline. It opens the door for Lana with Covergirl. It opens the door, and it just expands the definition of beauty.
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