Naomi Sims dead at 61

Naomi Sims, regarded as the first African American supermodel, has died aged 61 after a long battle with cancer.

Sims became one of the first really successful African American models, becoming the first African American to grace the cover of Ladies Home Journal in 1967. She went on to gain worldwide recognition in the late 1960s into the early 1970s, modeling for Fernando Sánchez, Teal Traina, and Giorgio di Sant’Angelo, and appearing on the covers of prestigious fashion and popular magazines including the cover of Life magazine in 1969.

Discovering that wigs were designed primarily for white people, Sims launched her own beauty and wig company in 1973. Her designs, produced by the Metropa Company, had annual sales of $5 million by 1978. The company is still trading today, and includes designer clothes sold in department stores.

In later years, Sims became a successful author, writing books on modeling, health, and beauty, including “All About Health and Beauty for the Black Woman,” “How to Be a Top Model” and “All About Success for the Black Woman.”