New York in the 60's : the place to be in order to succeed. Girls leave their hometowns to follow their dreams and reach fame. Giving up family and friends for the 'Big Apple'. Donyale Luna and Edie Sedgwick were one of them and their lives were a perfect representation of the era. Fashion icons, underground it-girls, these two women knew how to impose their own personalities to the New York scene, and leave their mark throughout history.
At the dawn of the 60's, the whole world discovers the hypnotising Donyale Luna. This enigmatic young girl had marked the fashion industry by becoming the first black super model and the highest paid at the time. However she still remained a mysterious woman, indeed nobody knew with certainty her birthdate or her origins. Donyale grew up in Detroit, people knew her as Paggy Ann Freeman. As a child, she lived in a fantastic world and used to come up with fake stories about her life. So it wasn't a surprise, when she changed her name to Donyale Luna during her teenage years, claiming that it was her father real family name. With a passion for drama, Donyale wanted to be an actress. She was featured in many plays during her college years.
Donyale lived a regular life until she met the english photographer David McCabe in 1963. The man immediately proposed her to pursue a modeling career and leave Detroit for New York. He introduced her to the Harper's Baazar staff, which offered a 2 years contract with their photographer Richard Avedon. The collaboration led to Donyale's first cover in March 1965. It's also at the same time that occurred her father's funerals, after he's been shot by her mother who tried to protect herself. Unfortunately, the Harpers stopped their collaboration after the loss of many of their readers, who didn't want to see the drawing of a black girl on the cover. In order to run away from racism, Donyale left the US to purue her career in Europe. Which gave her many opportunities including a cover for the Vogue UK in 1966.
There, she became huge very fast. Her moves seduced designers, her beauty mesmerized photographers and her grace inspired artists. Salvador Dalì said about her, that she was the reincarnation of Nefertiti. In London, she used to hang out with singers and painters, like Bryan Jones or the film-maker Fellini. As one of her friends, we could find Andy Warhol, who put her on the cover of his magazine Interview, created in 1969 with Gerald Malanga. Despite her success, she sank into drug addiction and alcoholism. Always late and high, she lost many contracts and compromised her career. Donyale Luna died in 1979 in Rome due to an overdose of heroin. A true myth, who left behind her the memories of an icon and an extraordinary model.