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Pat Cleveland

Pat Cleveland, was the first African-American model to gain 'supermodel' status. She was  muse to many fashion designers, including Halston and Yves Saint Lauren.

Cleveland started out her career in fashion as a designer. Spotted on the New York subway, she was invited by Vogue Editor, Carrie Donovan to visit the magazine's offices. Donovan then published a feature on her work as an up-and-coming young designer. She was subsequently invited by Ebony magazine to model for them during their Fashion Fair national runway tour, after which she decided to put her efforts into modelling. She very quickly caught the eye of Dianna Vreeland and was photographed by Irving Penn, Steven Meisel and Richard Avedon and many more.

Her initial rise to stardom was tainted by attitudes to black women at the time. Leaving the USA for Paris in the 1970s, she vowed never to return "...until a black women featured on the cover of Vogue magazine". She didn't have to wait too long; in 1974 Beverly Johnson became the first black model to appear on the cover of American Vogue in August that year.

During the 1970s Cleveland appeared on the covers of Vanity Fair, Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Harper's. Later in the 1970s she was often seen amongst New York's fashion and art set; Andy Warhol, Jerry Hall and Grace Jones amongst others. It was during this time that Rootstein created the "Pat & Pretty" Collection, featuring Cleveland alongside British actress Linda Hooks. Her poses capture a sense of attitude and confidence; something that she has always maintained throughout her long career.

Janice Dickinson, another model of the era described Pat Cleveland's catwalk style as "painting the air around her with clothes.” Diane von Furstenberg described her as "Dancing, twirling, strutting on a runway moving like no one else". Her energy added spirit and pizzaz to shows that were otherwise formulaic and old fashioned.

Pat Cleveland appeared in a second Rootstein collection in 2006 alongside her son and daughter, Anna and Noel van Ravenstein. Entitled "Second Generation" it bears all the hallmarks of Pat's life-long enduring energy.

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Pat Cleveland


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