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ESSENCE Best In Black Fashion Awards: Our 2019 Icon Award Honoree Is Pat Cleveland

For decades she has captivated audiences with her distinctive facial features and vibrant runway walk.
By Ashley Rushford · September 3, 2019

A celebration of the best and brightest creators of color within the fashion space, ESSENCE’s inaugural Best in Black Fashion Awards shines a light on top designers, stylists, photographers, models and insiders who made an impact in 2019. The star-studded roster of honorees and nominees will gather at pre-NY Fashion Week dinner on September 4th.

Pat Cleveland is a trailblazing model that has sashayed, twirled and posed her way into legendary status. Cleveland first hit the scene in the 1960’s breaking barriers for women of color in an industry that had long ignored us. “I knew I would never have Grace Kelly’s little nose or Rita Hayworth’s figure. But I could have bright red lips, lots of hair, and a job with Halston,” Cleveland wrote in her memoir Walking With The Muses. Since taking her groundbreaking stance, the Harlem born supermodel has captivated audiences in the decades that followed with her lithe frame and larger-than-life personality.

Cleveland is one of the first African-American models to achieve prominence as both a runway and print model. She has modeled for designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior and Valentino. Following her work with the most enterprising creators, she has graced the covers of Vanity Fair, Essence, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, L’Officiel Vogue Paris, W and Elle. To this day, Cleveland continues to wow audiences as she triumphed at the all Black Zendaya x Tommy runway show alongside Grace Jones, Tyra Banks and several other legends.

Meet Our 2019 Icon Award Honoree, Pat Cleveland