They were called the Black Girls Coalition and they were awesome.
Founded during a high water mark for catwalk diversity, the group was made up of every legendary black model you could think of (Iman! Naomi Campbell! Tyra Banks!).
They used their high profile to draw attention to and raise money for causes such as homelessness and champion diversity in fashion.
“Everybody had a little job to do. Veronica would write the letters. Iman and I would lick the stamps. It was funny. You could imagine Iman sitting there stuffing envelopes. She would say, “How did we get ourselves into this?” said founder and model agent Bethann Hardison, recalling the teamwork that went into organising their benefit events.
And now, twenty years later, the Black Girls Coalition is back!
On the eve of New York Fashion Week on Thursday, our IG feed was suddenly flooded with images from some of our favourite fashion insider islandistas (Shala Monroque! Melodie Monrose! Cora Emmanuel! Jeneil Williams) all in the same place at the same time.
The images kept popping up over and over – a group of some of the most stunning young black models in the game right now, curved around a dinner table with Bethann Hardison in the middle of it all.
Naturally our curiosity was piqued. What was going on? Was this just a coincidence? Could one restaurant handle all this fabulousness on its own?
Because honestly, the fabulous off the charts. It was a stunning rebuke to the dinosaurs in fashion who argue that black models don’t have the ‘look’ for whatever kind of aesthetic they are pursuing at the moment.
Because the full gamut of beauty was right there – strong and athletic a la Jeneil Williams, pale and ethereal like Cora Emmanuel, delicate beauties like Melodie Monrose, androgynous and tomboyish like Binx Walton and glamorous and doe-eyed like Grace Mahary.
It was like “Hey fashion world! What kind of look do you want? We got it all right here!”
It was amazing.
From all accounts, the dinner conversation was amazing too. All the models involved raved about the event, with Melodie shouting out her fellow Martiniquan Cora, who seems to be one of the driving forces behind the model meet-up.
In an interview with Elle two days ago, Hardison shared some of her motivation for restarting the coalition.
“With the girls now, there’s history they aren’t familiar with, because nobody mentors, nobody sits and talks; now, the Black Girls Coalition will give them an awareness and a sense of support…I haven’t deciphered it completely—yet—but I’ve reached out to girls and I’m going to take them to dinner and let them know there’s a lot to learn.”
The revival of the Black Girls Coalition definitely seems to be a logical next step from the great and very necessary work that Hardison’s Diversity Coalition has been doing over the past few fashion seasons. Plus, Hardison definitely has the gravitas to bring some legendary supermodels together with the new wave and help the younger models get more mentoring.
We’re excited to see what happens!