In this week’s edition of SUPERMODEL FLASHBACK, we take a look back at the internationally acclaimed and legendary supermodel, Pat Cleveland. Discovered in 1967, Cleveland had no desire to be a model, her passion was fashion design. Although, her designs got her featured in Vogue, it was her look that had Ebony magazine wanting her for their national runway tour, Fashion Fair.
Cleveland was definitely a sight to see on the 60’s and 70’s modeling scene. Entering an industry that showcased mostly white models, Pat stood out like a sore thumb. Born with an African American, Native American, Swedish and Irish ancestry, there were very few women who looked like her at that time. She was light-skinned, tall and slender, with black wavy hair that she often referred to as her “magic carpet”.
Despite success in America, Cleveland became tired of being singled out due to racism. So she left for Paris vowing never to return until US VOGUE printed a black model on the cover. While in Paris she modeled for the world’s top designers such as Valentino, Oscar de la Renta, Yves Saint Laurent, Thierry Mugler and Christian Dior. On the runways is where she really shined, her appearances were like theatrical performances, her walk and presentation of the clothing was something that could never be duplicated. “When she moved, she painted the air around her with the clothes,”- Janice Dickinson.
Pat Cleveland delivered something the fashion industry had never seen at that time. She was different and because of her perseverance she introduced the world to a look that is now celebrated. She changed the game for models past and present. Pat Cleveland, a supermodel for the ages!