Supreme Models is an amazing series that pays tribute to the trailblazing Black models who changed the fashion industry forever. Through heartfelt interviews that reintroduce iconic models like Donyale Luna and Pat Cleveland, viewers get a glimpse into what it took for them to break through the oppressive culture of racism and colorism in the 1960s.
Based on the book by Marsellas Reynolds, Supreme Models is a YouTube Originals docuseries from Vogue and The Machine that spills the tea on the fashion industry, from the Battle of Versailles to the unspoken “Blackout” that attempted to erase black models from the runway. Through a unique combination of archival footage and contemporary interviews, Supreme Models takes viewers on a journey through history as we explore how African American women revolutionized these industries.
RespectAbility Lab Alumna Nasreen Alkhateeb was the Director of Photography for the series, and she shared what it was like on set in real-time with these iconic women in history. “It felt so empowering to learn about my black history in a way that I had not before, and for it to be told by the people who actually experienced it.” Hearing the models talk firsthand about the embedded racism in the industry, Alkhateeb says the series sets up the foundation on which history was built and sheds light on how white supremacy worked in the fashion and entertainment industry. “You can’t build a future without knowing your history.”
When asked about the cinematography techniques used in the series, Alkhateeb says these gorgeous models made it easy. “I wanted the melanated skin to shine on screen,” said Alkhateeb. “They were already walking pieces of artwork, so all I had to do was light what was there.” Alkhateeb’s focus was to build an intimate set so that conversations could be had in a safe space. That meant having a crew that was reflective of the history that was being recorded, with black women and women of color behind the camera.
Supreme Models is a celebration of Black models pioneering a successful path in fashion history’s most challenging terrain. It’s an amazing testament to the power of tenacity and resilience!