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Shortly after Aaliyah’s tragic death in 2001, her final video, “Rock the Boat” was released. The Bahamian location was postcard-perfect and the song was a sultry stunner—but no one could take their eyes off of Aaliyah. With her glowing, sun-kissed skin and soulful eyes, the 22-year-old singer/actress had never looked more beautiful.
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We’d always loved Halle Berry, but when she won the 2002 Oscar for Best Actress—the first black woman ever to do so—we fell for her all over again. And, really, had there ever been a woman more gorgeous? With her matte, muted eye makeup, mauve lipstick and skin radiant from the rush of victory, Berry became the ultimate black movie goddess.
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Beyonce’s solo debut, “Dangerously in Love,” spawned a zillion hits, including the iconic “Crazy in Love.” But for the beauty-obsessed, nothing was hotter than Beyonce, herself, serving up a platter of Sasha Fierce on the album cover. Her shimmering skin, metallic shadow and impossibly glossy lips set a new standard for fierceness in the 2000’s.
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In 2003, Ethiopian supermodel Liya Kebede became this first woman of color in Estee Lauder’s 57-year history to sign a contract with the cosmetics giant. At the time, we were equal parts bummed (really, 57 years?) and ecstatic—but today, we applaud the flawless Ms. Kebede for representing the Lauder brand with grace and unsurpassed gorgeousness. Go ’head, girl.
6 of 12 tyra, america's next top model
And now, let’s take a moment to salute the various over-the-top hairstyles Tyra has worn during “America’s Next Top Model’s” run. From a complicated, Chinoiserie-inspired updo to a teased, berry-hued bob, the supermodel-turned-mogul has been delighting us with her hair do’s and dont’s for six years and counting. And for what it’s worth, we think Tyra’s ANTM hair deserves its own show.
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We were thrilled when Jennifer Hudson won a 2007 Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her work in “Dreamgirls,” but we were also struck dumb by her flawless makeup at the ceremony! The next morning, brown women all over the world were scrambling to find a bronze eyeshadow similar to J-Huds.’ And just like that, a beauty star was born.
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In 2007, supermodel Alex Wek released her best-selling book, “Alek: From Sudanese Refugee to International Supermodel.” Touching and uplifting, the autobiography made the fashion darling a household name. And anyone unfamiliar with her modeling work instantly became a fan after seeing her beyond-striking cover.
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In 2008, Naomi Campbell thumbed her nose at rumors about her ungraciousness when she asked budding supermodel, Chanel Iman, to walk in her charity fashion show, “Fashion for Relief.” And when the two stormed down the runway together, it was a beauty moment to end all beauty moments.
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If you cared anything about beauty and fashion in the summer of 2008, you were definitely lining up to snag your copy of Vogue Italia’s “The Black Issue.” The encyclopedia-sized July 2008 issue featured all black models, and a pull-out cover showcasing four stunning head shots of Liya Kebede, Sessilee Lopez, Naomi Campbell, and Jourdan Dunn. The much-hyped issue definitely had it’s weak points, but in an era where one could count the number of top black models on one hand, we were thrilled to get some industry love.
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In 2009, Michelle Obama’s official First Lady portrait was released to much fanfare (that chic Michael Kors shift! Those ARMS!)—and we were instantly taken by her flawless makeup. With her divinely arched brows, warm blush, and glamorous lashes, Mrs. Obama was instantly understood to be one of the most beautiful, trend-setting women in the world. Still gives us goosebumps.
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