Tyra Banks pays tribute to Black supermodel trailblazer Naomi Sims
"She was one of the world’s first Black supermodels, setting the groundwork (and werk!) for so many of us," wrote Banks.
Modeling legend Tyra Banks paid homage to a pioneer who blazed a trail for her this week, sharing an image of one of her favorite magazine covers featuring Naomi Sims.
Banks posted the photo on Instagram, where she wrote, “I love this cover of LIFE Magazine from 1969. It is one of my all-time faves. It hangs in my home. For those of you that don’t know, this beauty was a model, businesswoman, and author — a triple threat.”
“She was the first Black model to appear on the cover of Ladies’ Home Journal in November 1968,” Banks added. “She was one of the world’s first Black supermodels, setting the groundwork (and werk!) for so many of us, a true inspiration. My hero.”
It is unclear what prompted Banks’ tribute to Sims, who passed away of cancer at age 61 in 2009. But fans of them both celebrated the post, with one commenting, “Icon tributes an icon!”
One wrote, “Never knew about her, saw this post and immediately went to look her up!!!!” The individual thanked Banks for sharing “this piece of history.”
An iconic supermodel who walked for Halston, Teal Traina and others, Sims noticed that so many of the industry’s makeup artists and hairstylists didn’t know how to work with her hair and skin tone. She ultimately developed a wig line, fragrances and even her own beauty salon franchise.
Banks, one of the top Black supermodels of the 1990s, learned a lot from her predecessor. She was the first Black model to appear in Victoria’s Secret catalog, and she appeared in films like John Singleton’s Higher Learning and Life-Size, a movie in which a doll comes to life.
Banks also created the hit show America’s Next Top Model, which created opportunities for dozens of models including many women of color. She was also the host of an eponymous talk show for several years.
Earlier this year, fashion icon Andre Leon Talley told Women’s Wear Daily Sims was “most importantly, an elegant woman. She always exuded contemporary, modern, minimalist elegance in her entire career.”