Stylish Throwback ESSENCE Model Covers

A homage to the beautiful Black models that graced our magazine covers.

Celia L. Smith Feb, 21, 2014

1 of 18 ESSENCE, May 1970

Barbara Cheeseborough

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The September 1970 issue of ESSENCE Magazine featured Hatian model Jany Tomba who immigrated to New York in the sixties.

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The Mississippi-native graced the cover of ESSENCE in October 1971, afterwards the model went on to start a multi-million dollar wig business.

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The July 1973 cover of ESSENCE snagged the Kansas brains and beauty (UCLA business and sociology major) months after she was crowned Playmate of the Month.

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Before Bethann Hardison was a professional Image Activist, she was a garment industry sales girl and an assistant to a few very noteworthy designers but best of all a striking model, gracing the cover of October's 1974 issue.

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Joyce Walker's fresh face was a ray of sunshine on the July 1975 cover of ESSENCE.

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The Michigan native went from former nursing student to taking New York by storm barely in her twenties. Here, the model strikes a pose, no catwallk required, just our September 1975 cover.

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Yvette Flowers keeps it menswear-chic in a sharp scarlet suit and striped tie on the cover of the March issue in 1981

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Wanakee Pugh was a bonafied beauty girl as shown in this October 1981 close-up. Known for her extremely long and lustrous mane, the model gained popularity with ad campaigns for Revlon and Clairol before going on to create her namesake product line.

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The Martinican model and Yves Saint Laurent muse strongly suited ESSENCE's "In Praise of Black Style" issue in October of 1982.

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Discovered on the streets of Nairobi at the tender age of 18 by famed fashion photographer Peter Beard, this Poli-Sci student was destined for stardom –– and the cover of ESSENCE's vibrant December 1984 issue.

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Never one to be outdone, Jamaican model/singer Grace Jones personifies 80s glam on the June 1985 cover with her uniquely chiseled androgynous features as she "Dares To Be Her."

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This fitness cover was befitting for the young junior Olympics swimme-turned-model at the age of 19. After being discovered on the sales floor of then popular retailer JAX, and signed to FORD, Johnson ultimately graced more than one ESSENCE cover, including this one in June 1986.

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Before becoming known as Vanessa Williams the actress, Williams made history as the first African American Miss Universe. Outfitted in a popping shade of red on our cover, this blue-eyed beauty was a sight to behold.

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This 1987 covergirl was a baby face breaking into the industry at the age of 15, but quickly recognized as one of the great original five supermodels to dominate the 90s and later shoot over 500 covers, including ours.

16 of 18 ESSENCE Magazine

May 1989 ESSENCE's nineteenth anniversary issue went out in style, featuring a dynamic duo: designer Patrick Kelly and model Kimi Kane.

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When Sudanese stunner Alek Wek graced the cover of the ESSENCE September 2000 fashion issue in a strikingly bold black and white cover, it was one to rival any fashion mag.

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A trifecta of greatness graced the September 2010 cover: Naomi Campbelll, Iman, and Liya Kebede. All three models had their cover moments individually, including Ethiopian beauty Kebede in the 90s.

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