Bethann Hardison, a trailblazing figure in the fashion industry, is stepping into the spotlight with the release of her documentary, “Invisible Beauty.” The former model, who defied conventions as one of the few Black runway and print models in the late ’60s and ’70s, transitioned to a behind-the-scenes role in the early ’80s. Her pioneering work in promoting multiethnic modeling talent, including iconic figures like Tyson Beckford, reshaped the industry’s landscape.
Co-directed by Hardison and acclaimed French director Frédéric Tcheng, “Invisible Beauty” delves into her life, from her Brooklyn upbringing to her enduring impact on fashion and culture. Despite her private nature, Hardison agreed to the documentary to shed light on her journey, driven by colleagues who recognized her significant contributions.
The film illustrates how her diverse upbringing instilled a sense of pride in her Black identity while fostering cross-cultural alliances. It also addresses the fashion industry’s historic lack of inclusivity, which Hardison tirelessly fought against starting in the 1980s. Through strategic actions, including creating the Black Girls Coalition and exposing exclusion through data, she has championed change but emphasizes the ongoing need for vigilance.
“Invisible Beauty” also delves into the personal side of Hardison’s life, revealing intimate details of her travels, relationships, and challenges as a single working mother. Despite her initial reluctance, Hardison believes the documentary paints a more authentic portrait of herself, stating, “Nobody really knows me until they see the film. Then they learn so much more.”
“Invisible Beauty” premiered in New York on September 15, followed by Los Angeles on September 22, and additional theaters on September 29. Bethann Hardison’s remarkable journey from a groundbreaking model to a transformative force in the fashion industry comes to life in this revealing documentary.
Re-reported from the article originally published in The Shondaland