Thursday, April 10, 2014

NAOMI SIMS: THE CELEBRATED FACE OF "BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL" MOVEMENT IN FASHION INDUSTRY

Naomi Ruth Sims (March 30, 1948 – August 1, 2009) was an American modeling and fashion legend as well as an astute businesswoman and author. Sims has an enviable record of being one of the first successful black models while still in her teens, and achieved worldwide recognition from the late 1960s into the early 1970s, appearing on the covers of prestigious fashion and popular magazines.She was the second black famous supermodel after the great Donyale Luna of Detroit before the term supermodel was coined.
Naomi Sims, the modeling and fashion legend who was the first African-American (black) model to appear on the cover of Ladies' Home Journal in November 1968.


Naomi Sims was the first African-American (black) model to appear on the cover of Ladies' Home Journal in November 1968. Her appearance on the cover page that year was a consummate moment of the Black is Beautiful movement. She went on to design successful collections of wigs and cosmetics for black women under her name and she has been sometimes widely credited as being the first African-American supermodel. “Naomi was the first,” the designer Halston told The New York Times in 1974. “She was the great ambassador for all black people. She broke down all the social barriers.”

Prior to Sims 1968 fame, the August 27, 1967 Gosta Peterson's photos of her pushed Sims into the history books as she became the first black woman to get the cover of the "Fashion of Times", a supplement to The New York Times. According to Essence magazine, “Never had a model so dark-skinned received so much exposure, praise, and professional prestige.”
Naomi Sims, pioneer black supermodel

In 1969 and 1970, Naomi received the Model of the Year award. In 1972 she received the Woman of Achievement Medal and then the Top Hat Award in 1974. In 1976, Naomi Sims created the Naomi Sims Company. She brought to black woman of various skin tones beauty products that were not so easily attainable at the time. The company produces a both body and skin care lines in addition to the Naomi Sims wigs collection. She was awarded the NYC Board of Education award for teaching underprivileged children in Bedford Stuyvesant. And in 2003, she was honoured in New York with a Lifetime Achievement Award from Fashion & Arts Xchange.
Naomi Sims

Naomi Sims authored several books including: All About Health and Beauty for the Black Woman, How to Be A Top Model and All About Hair Care for the Black Woman.
Portrait of Naomi Sims

On her personal life, in August 1973, she married art dealer Michael Findlay. Findlay and Sims caused a stir as Findlay was white and interracial marriage in 1973 was still considered taboo. Findlay and Sims were both, profiled separately in the February 1, 1970, issue of Vogue before they met and married. They had one son, Bob. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1991
Sims died on Saturday, August 1 of breast cancer,  in Newark, New Jersey. She was 61 and is survived by her son, Bob Findlay, a granddaughter, and her elder sister, Betty Sims. Her eldest sister, Doris, died in 2008. Her Times Fashion Magazine cover and images of her in Life Magazine are still on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Naomi Sims, Circa 1970

Sims was born in Oxford, Mississippi, the youngest of three daughters born to John and Elizabeth Sims. Her father (whom she never knew) reportedly worked as a porter, but Sims' mother later described him "an absolute bum" and her parents divorced shortly after she was born.
 Naomi Sims with sport sky-colored eye makeup. Sims, who is known as "The First Black Supermodel" paired black mascara and smokey eyeshadow with a bright blue liner (draw on the lower rim of her eyes)

At 13, Naomi already measured 5'10. She left Mississippi for better schooling opportunities in Pennsylvania. Often teased because of her height and southern accent, she felt alone. Mrs Sims later moved with her three daughters to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where Naomi's mother was forced to put her child into foster care. She attended Westinghouse High School. There due to her height, she was ostracized by many of her classmates. She accredits her catholic faith for teaching her to walk with pride and dignity from an early age.
Sims began college after winning a scholarship to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, while also taking night classes in psychology at New York University. Needing more money to finance her studies, she launched her modelling career in 1967 on her own. After running low on money she atarted posing for illustrators and through established agencies but was also frustrated by racial prejudice, with some agencies telling her that her skin was too dark.
Naomi Sims

Naomi's perspicacity and drive started a revolution in the fashion world and in the beauty industry. One day, she by chance came across a photographer's agent. He wrote down three names and urged her to go see the photographers. With no agent, she contacted the renowned photographer Gosta Peterson, who was also known for his innovation. It also just happened that Peterson' was married to Pat Peterson, the fashion editor of The New York Times and of its "Fashion of the Times" bi-yearly supplement. Peterson's photos of her pushed Sims into the history books. On August 27, 1967 Sims became the first black woman to get the cover of the "Fashion of Times", a supplement to The New York Times.
The Legendary Naomi Sims | 1975 Photo: The Legendary Anthony Barboz

With her recent groundbreaking accomplishments, Sims soon learned that being a pioneer in the US market was not easy. She approached all the top modelling agencies in New York City including Ford. Eileen Ford refused to meet with her directly. Former model Sunny Harnett, who now worked at Ford as an assistant, delivered the news to her. After being informed that Ford already had too many models of "her kind", Sims went on over to the newly organized Wilhelmina Models. Wilhelmina refused to take her onto her books.

Sims’ elegant looks, with her signature ballerina bun, in the late sixties won her covers on Life and Ladies' Home Journal and threw away the notion that all Black models had to be typecast as wild and exotic.
(Photo: Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)

 However, Naomi managed to convince Wilhelmina to allow her to use the agency's contact information on the card that she attached to the Times cover that she sent to every ad agency in the city. Days later, Sims returned home to discover a message under her door. It read, "CANNOT REACH YOU BY TELEPHONE. URGENT YOU CALL US." It was a telegram and had been sent by Wilhelmina. Fearing that she had done something wrong, Naomi did not respond. Another telegram came for Sims and she again did not respond. Then, Wilhelmina sent a third telegram to Naomi explaining that she needed to come into the agency because they had lots work for her.
Naomi Sims and Tamara Dobson in Giorgio di Sant' Angelo (via Afrolistas and the City)

Naomi's ingenuity and initiative paid off. By helping herself, she simultaneously cracked a hole in the modelling industry through which other models like Beverly Johnson, Pat Cleveland, Grace Jones and Bethann Hardison would soon follow. She posed for fashion pages in Vogue and was a spokesperson for national Virginia Slims billboard campaigns. "The editors would call for more fantasy. I gave them elegance and regality. We were reaching for the stars…", Sims went on to say.

Naomi Sims at the “Harlem Homecoming” benefit show for the Dance Theater of Harlem in 1972. Image via Bettmann/Corbis

Naomi's face became the muse for the "Black is Beautiful" movement in 1967, which taught black and ebony skinned women to cherish their individual beauty. Before her, no model of such dark skin had ever been so widely exposed. In 1968, she broke through to Middle America in capturing the cover of the Ladies Home Journal. She followed that up with her simple and stunning cover of Life Magazine. By this time, she was a tender 19 years old and had been recognized both domestically and internationally as a celebrity. Others would follow for McCall's, Essence and Cosmopolitan. The latter topped off her retirement as a fashion model. In 1968 Sims told Ladies' Home Journal:
"It helped me more than anything else because it showed my face. After it was aired, people wanted to find out about me and use me."

In 1967, she had been offered the role of Cleopatra Jones, but soundly turned it down. Naomi was shocked and disappointed at the way Hollywood chose to represent black women. However, Hollywood would go on to emulate Sims' beauty in the 1975 movie, Mahogany. It goes without saying that Dianna Ross' makeup and allure bore striking resemblances to famous photos previously done of Sims.
Naomi Sims-Italian Vogue 1969

Naomi admits that others found her haughty and even "too grand". However, she was reclusive and wasn't able to canalise all the pressures that accompanied the inherent racism that came along with the territory of being one of America's first black supermodel. Giving back, she used her prestigious image to help other in the African-American community. She gave of her time to work with drug addicts, Vietnam veterans, black civic groups and various charitable organisations. Naomi is an active member of the NAACP and the Northside Center for Child Development.

Yale Joel/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images; Naomi Sims crosses the street in Halston, 1972. (CNP Archives)

i admits that others found her haughty and even "too grand". However, she was reclusive and wasn't able to canalise all the pressures that accompanied the inherent racism that came along with the territory of being one of America's first black supermodel. Giving back, she used her prestigious image to help other in the African-American community. She gave of her time to work with drug addicts, Vietnam veterans, black civic groups and various charitable organisations. Naomi is an active member of the NAACP and the Northside Center for Child Development.
Naomi Sims, 1969

Backstage gossip, drugs in the industry, gossips and racial quotas disenchanted her with the industry. Naomi was intelligent and admitted that she sculpted her career in such a way that she worked less, but always for prestigious clients, who paid her well. In 1973, she officially retired. She went into retirement in grand style making the cover of Cosmopolitan!

In 1969 and 1970, Naomi received the Model of the Year award. In 1972 she received the Woman of Achievement Medal and then the Top Hat Award in 1974. In 1976, Naomi Sims created the Naomi Sims Company. She brought to black woman of various skin tones beauty products that were not so easily attainable at the time. The company produces a both body and skin care lines in addition to the Naomi Sims wigs collection. She was awarded the NYC Board of Education award for teaching underprivileged children in Bedford Stuyvesant. And in 2003, she was honoured in New York with a Lifetime Achievement Award from Fashion & Arts Xchange.

In addition to being an occasional contributor to Redbook, Essence, Encore and other periodicals, Naomi Sims has authored several books: All About Health and Beauty for the Black Woman, How to Be A Top Model and All About Hair Care for the Black Woman.
Model Naomi Sims, getting off of a bus wearing suede jacket and pants, and carrying a fur coat. (June 1972, www.wmagazine.com)

Sims died on Saturday, August 1 of cancer. She was 61. Her Times Fashion Magazine cover and images...
Source:http://www.thefashioninsider.com/supermodels/29.html?lang=EN&meta=Biography-EN-Naomi-Sims-Supermodel-Second-Black-Supermodel


Naomi Sims, 61, Pioneering Cover Girl, Is Dead
By ERIC WILSON
Published: August 3, 2009
Naomi Sims, whose appearance as the first black model on the cover of Ladies’ Home Journal in November 1968 was a consummate moment of the Black is Beautiful movement, and She went on to design successful collections of wigs and cosmetics for black women under her name, died Saturday in Newark. She was 61 and lived in Newark.
She died of cancer, said her son, Bob Findlay.
Ms. Sims is sometimes referred to as the first black supermodel.

“Naomi was the first,” the designer Halston told The New York Times in 1974. “She was the great ambassador for all black people. She broke down all the social barriers.”

Ms. Sims often said childhood insecurities and a painful upbringing — living in foster homes, towering over her classmates and living in a largely poor white neighborhood in Pittsburgh — had inspired her to strive to become “somebody really important” at a time when cultural perceptions of black Americans were being challenged by the civil rights movement and a renewed stress on racial pride.

When Ms. Sims arrived in New York on a scholarship to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in 1966, there was very little interest in fashion for black models and only a handful who had been successful, like Dorothea Towles Church, who starred in the couture shows in 1950s Paris, and Donyale Luna, who was named Vogue’s model of the year in 1966.

                                                                1969
In need of money, Ms. Sims, with her heart-shaped face and long limbs, was encouraged by classmates and counselors to give it a try. But every agency she approached turned her down, some telling her that her skin was too dark.

Undeterred, Ms. Sims decided to approach photographers herself. Gosta Peterson, a photographer for The Times, agreed to photograph her for the cover of its August 1967 fashion supplement, then called Fashions of The Times.

The agencies were still not interested, so Ms. Sims, showing a dash of enterprise that would later define her career, told Wilhelmina Cooper, a former model who was starting her own agency, that she would send out copies of the magazine to advertising agencies with Ms. Cooper’s number attached. Ms. Cooper could have a commission if anyone called back.

Within a year, Ms. Sims was earning $1,000 a week and had been hired for a national television campaign for AT&T, which showed her and two other models — one white and one Asian — wearing fashions by Bill Blass.
Naomi Sims

“It helped me more than anything else because it showed my face,” Ms. Sims told Ladies’ Home Journal the following year, when she appeared on its cover, the first time a black model was featured so prominently in a mainstream women’s publication. “After it was aired, people wanted to find out about me and use me.”

Ms. Sims was suddenly in high demand, modeling for top designers like Halston, Teal Traina, Fernando Sánchez and Giorgio di Sant’Angelo, and standing at the vanguard of a fashion movement for black models that would give rise to runway stars of the 1970s, including Pat Cleveland, Alva Chinn and Beverly Johnson.

Two images of Ms. Sims — one from the 1967 Times fashion magazine cover and the other from a 1969 issue of Life — are in the current Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition “The Model as Muse.” In a catalog, the curators Harold Koda and Kohle Yohannan wrote, “The beautifully contoured symmetry of Sims’s face and the lithe suppleness of her body presented on the once-exclusionary pages of high-fashion journals were evidence of the wider societal movement of Black Pride and the full expression of ‘Black is Beautiful.’ ”

But Ms. Sims, in interviews, often said she held the industry in low regard because of the way male executives treated her and, more generally, she said, “because people have the idea that models are stupid.”

After five years, she gave up modeling and started a wig-making business with styles designed for black women. It eventually expanded into a multimillion-dollar beauty empire and at least five books on modeling and beauty.
Naomi Sims(March 30, 1948 – August 1, 2009) "She personified the slogan 'Black Is Beautiful' with equal emphasis on deep color and high value.

“There is nothing sadder than an old, broke model, and there are many models who have nothing at the end of their career,” Ms. Sims told The Times in 1969.

Naomi Ruth Sims was born on March 30, 1948, in Oxford, Miss., the third of three daughters of John and Elizabeth Sims. Her father was a porter. Her parents divorced shortly after she was born, and all she knew of her father, she told Ladies’ Home Journal, was “that my mother told me he was an absolute bum.”

The family moved to Pittsburgh, where her mother became ill and Ms. Sims was placed in foster care. She remained close with her sisters, and followed the next oldest, Betty, to New York after graduating from Westinghouse High School.

Her 1973 marriage to Michael Findlay, the Manhattan art dealer, ended in divorce in 1991. Besides their son, Bob, who lives in Seattle, she is survived by Betty Sims, who lives in Manhattan, and a granddaughter. Doris Sims, her oldest sister, died in 2008.

In addition to pursuing studies at F.I.T., Ms. Sims took night courses in psychology at New York University but gave them up when her modeling career took off and she became a celebrity, running in a glamorous crowd that included Salvador Dalí and Andy Warhol.
Naomi Sims

She retained, however, the sense of propriety that her foster parents had instilled in her. In 1972, the producers of the movie “Cleopatra Jones” sought to cast Ms. Sims in the title role, but she turned it down because, she said, she was offended by its racist portrayal of black people. (The role went to the model Tamara Dobson.)
Naomi Sims in her classic 1970 Houbigant advertisement

In 1973, Ms. Sims decided to start her own business. As a model, she often did her own hair and makeup, since many studio assistants were unfamiliar with working with darker skin. And she noticed that most commercially available wigs were designed for Caucasian hair, so she began experimenting with her own designs, baking synthetic hairs in her oven at home to create the right texture to look like straightened black hair. Within five years, her designs, produced by the Metropa Company, had annual sales of $5 million.

She also began writing books, including “All About Health and Beauty for the Black Woman,” “How to Be a Top Model” and “All About Success for the Black Woman,” as well as an advice column for teenage girls in Right On! magazine.

In the 1980s, she expanded the Naomi Sims Collection to include a prestige fragrance, beauty salons and cosmetics, but by the end of the decade she had become less involved with its daily operations. Many images of Ms. Sims from that period are still used to promote the products that bear her name.

Ms. Sims often attributed her success to using her race as an advantage.
Naomi Sims

“It’s ‘in’ to use me,” she said early on, “and maybe some people do it when they don’t really like me. But even if they are prejudiced, they have to be tactful if they want a good picture.”
Source:http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/04/fashion/04sims.html?_r=0




Beautiful Naomi Sims wearing Halston



Photo Henry Clarke for Vogue, July 1961


THIS PHOTO of Sims was taken at the AJC studio.


Dec. 1972: Interview cover with Andy Warhol

circa 1969

Vintage Bazaar Dec 1968, Naomi Sims


1971, Naomi Sims



"From LIFE magazine (17 October 1969), this is of course Naomi Sims (1948-2009)". 4 1 ·


News Photo: American model Naomi Sims and her husband art





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