fashion model JoAni Johnson

Model of the month: how fashion model JoAni Johnson breaks patterns

Every month we put an authentic and inspiring fashion model in the spotlights. This month it’s fashion model JoAni Johnson, who isn’t a new name in the modeling scene anymore. She adorned several magazine covers, big campaigns many models can only dream of and is – at an age of 67 – the coolest model of the first Fenty Campaign. Let’s take a closer look at this authentic and successful beauty.
Cover photo: © Camilla Plener on Unsplash

Fashion model JoAni Johnson

With her newest label – Fenty – Rihanna celebrates beauty in all its forms. She succeeded in questioning the standard view on beauty and has successfully set the new standard (or even better: the lack of a standard). Who better to cast than fashion model JoAni Johnson to execute this task?

But who is this successful fashion model? Let’s discover her interesting story.

JoAni Johnson’s extensive career

Fashion model JoAni Johnson has come from far. When she was young, she wanted to study maths. After a teacher told her she couldn’t, this dream fell apart. She moved from New York City (she was born and raised in Harlem) to France, to attend nursery school. Johnson soon discovered that learning French didn’t suit her.

Johnson moved back to New York to work at a department store, since she always had a love for fashion. You might expect that this choice marked the early start of her fashion career. Well, you’re wrong.

After working at the store, she worked as an accountant for a T-shirt brand, to combine her two loves: fashion and mathematics. Johnson learned more than the digits at this company. They involved her in pattern making and other relevant fashion skills. Her next job was at a denim company at Texas, where they thought she was “weird” and therefore didn’t last long.

Because fashion model JoAni Johnson has always been full of life and positive energy, she moved on to the next job. Johnson became the right hand of Warren Hirsch, responsible for reselling brands such as Calvin Klein and Fiorucci to department stores.

Without doubt, we can say JoAni Johnson has seen the fashion industry change. During the eighties her job got irrelevant when the fashion landscape drastically changed.

From fashion prominent to stay-at-home mom to fashion model

Johnson decided to sta at home for a while, to take her of her daughter. However, this new life didn’t last long. During a Sunday walk at the streets of New York city, she got spotted by a street style photographer. She took a photo of Johnson (against her will). Within a few weeks, a casting agent called her to become part of a video. They needed someone with grey hair.

The Allure video that changed her life

The video, which was the famous Allure video, marked the beginning of a new career. Just like Rihanna’s campaign for Fenty, Allure questioned the standards of the beauty industry. The video soon went viral and led to many new modeling jobs for Johnson. She walked the runway for Tome, Eileen Fisher and many others.

Why representation matters

Fashion model JoAni Johnson makes statements such as “representation matters”. She loves to see the current shift in the fashion and beauty industry, which she is part of. Her nonchalance together with her fierce look make her suitable for many brands and love by the big audience. The fact that she doesn’t have to do this work (she actually retired) makes it more fun to her. It’s like a new life she fully embraced, while making the change she loves to see in the world.


Source: Refinery29 and Hypebae.

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