'Supreme Models' book honors trailblazing black models: 'I don't know why this is the first'

'Supreme Models' book honors trailblazing black models: 'I don't know why this is the first' (ABC News)

'Supreme Models' book honors trailblazing black models: 'I don't know why this is the first' originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com

Being a change-maker is always in fashion, and that's what Marcellas Reynolds is.

The first-time author is behind "Supreme Models: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Fashion," the first photography book devoted to black models.

"I don't know why this is the first and I don't know why I'm the guy that did this," Reynolds told "Good Morning America." "There's tons of books out there about models, and they think that including two or three black models is enough, and it is not."

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"Supreme Models" features photos, essays and magazine covers of fierce black females such as Naomi Campbell, Iman and Veronica Webb. Reynolds describes his work as a much overdue appreciation of black models.

"'I've always been obsessed with models. I am the ultimate fan," Reynolds said. "This book is a love letter to some incredible women who inspired me when I was a child and in my teenage years. Those girls and their pictures inspire you to dream."

Reynolds -- who is a stylist, host and former model himself -- relates to these women on a completely different scale.

As a child, Reynolds dreamed of runways, fashion and the editorial lifestyle he is now living but never thought he'd be able to achieve.

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"This book is for 10-year-old Marcellas, who was bullied and didn't have any friends because he was a gay kid," Reynolds said. "He would read Ebony and Jet from cover to cover because he just wanted something more."

Reynolds' latest work may have been eight years in the making, but the stories featured in the book span more than 70.

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"When I set out to write "Supreme Models," it wasn't supposed to be what it turned into," Reynolds explained to "GMA." "It was supposed to be a beautiful book about beautiful women, and it really is the history of black models in advertising, in fashion, in America, in the world."

"Supreme Models" is as historical as it is visual. From the first black supermodel to the first black model on the covers of Glamour and Life magazines, the women featured exhibit true model behavior. Here are a few highlights.

Grace Bol

PHOTO: Grace Bol, photographed by Kuba Ryniewicz, VoguePoland, April 2018.<p>(Kuba Ryniewicz for VoguePolska via Abrams)
PHOTO: Grace Bol, photographed by Kuba Ryniewicz, VoguePoland, April 2018.

(Kuba Ryniewicz for VoguePolska via Abrams)

Bol comes alive both on camera and off. She went from refugee to runway after fleeing South Sudan's civil war. She's best known for walking the 2017 and 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.

"Each photo has a story," explained Reynolds. "What's amazing about this one for me is that when I reached out to the photographer, he was so honored to be in the book."

Rose Cordero

PHOTO: Rose Cordero, photographed by John-Paul Pietrus, Arise, Spring 2011.<p>(John-Paul Pietrus via Abrams)
PHOTO: Rose Cordero, photographed by John-Paul Pietrus, Arise, Spring 2011.

(John-Paul Pietrus via Abrams)

Reynolds writes: "There must be something in the water in the Dominican Republic that produces so many stunning models."

Cordero made her debut walking for Burberry in 2009 and the cover above is from the African magazine Arise.

"That was something that was very important to me, to include black magazines," Reynolds said. "You're going to see magazines like Vogue, you're going to see Harper's Bazaar, but you're also going to see magazines that are sort of for the culture."

Daphne Maxwell Reid

PHOTO: Daphne Maxwell Reid, photographed by Jack Ward, Glamour, October 1969. (Jack Ward /Glamour Cond�Nast via Abrams)
PHOTO: Daphne Maxwell Reid, photographed by Jack Ward, Glamour, October 1969. (Jack Ward /Glamour Cond�Nast via Abrams)

From being the first black woman on the cover of Glamour to being the first black homecoming queen of Northwestern University, Reid has her share of groundbreaking moments.

"Many people know her because she was the second Aunt Viv on 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,'" Reynolds said. "But Daphne has lived this amazing life full of firsts."

Naiomi Sims

PHOTO: Naomi Sims, photographed by Yale Joel, LIFE magazine, October 1969. (Yale Joel/The LIFE Premium Collection/Getty Images via Abrams)
PHOTO: Naomi Sims, photographed by Yale Joel, LIFE magazine, October 1969. (Yale Joel/The LIFE Premium Collection/Getty Images via Abrams)

"Fight me -- Naiomi Sims is the first black super model," Reynolds said.

While Iman and Beverly Johnson might give Sims a run for that title, she was the first black model on the cover of both Life and Ladies' Home Journal.

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"This arrived in 14 million homes across the U.S.," Reynolds said about Sims' Journal magazine cover. "This black face with natural hair broke boundaries."

Veronica Webb

PHOTO: Veronica Webb, photographed by Albert Watson, Vogue Italia, May 1989. (Albert Watson/Courtesy of Vogue Italia via Abrams<p>)
PHOTO: Veronica Webb, photographed by Albert Watson, Vogue Italia, May 1989. (Albert Watson/Courtesy of Vogue Italia via Abrams

)

For Webb, there is no such thing as a model being off-duty. She has gone from actress to activist, supermodel to super-humanitarian, and has used her platform to create change in the world.

"She showed the world that being a model meant that you can use your platform to help others," Reynolds explained. "She is the perfect example of model, humanitarian, just all-around good person."

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