Friday, August 21, 2009

A Salute To Super Model Billie Blair

Note: With the tremendous response to the blog post I decided to add more photos especially the most recent one taken by Rose Hartman recently published in The New York Times at Le 1973 Grand Divertissement à Versailles.  

                                                         Former Super Model Billie Blair

This month we lost one of the most revered beauty and fashion icons, Naomi Sims and I realized that once many of our "greats" past the age of 30 we have no use for them anymore. In a country who seems to be so obsessed with stopping the time clock on aging it scares me how they just toss aside those that have contributed so much to this nations cultural history in favor of what they think is so fresh, new and young.

Any way I've decided that as long as I'm living I'd pay homage to the many men and women who came before us and who have paved the way for me and the rest of you. I believe in giving flowers to the living and showing them that I love them while they're alive. Today, I salute former fashion model, Billie Blair. I'm giving her a bouquet of flowers to show my appreciation for all that's she's done in my life.

Billie was a former nursing student from Flint, Michigan, who moved to New York in search for a career in modeling. Instead of her finding "it", it found her and the rest is fashion history. She did not fit Americas standard of female beauty, but she had a style all her own that commanded the big dollars in her day. Billie was also like Naomi Sims, a "Halston Muse," who the designer greatly admired and so did Oscar, Scott Barrie, Bob Mackie and others.

I remember Billie as the model with her hair, often slicked back or with an attached hair bun. The most thing striking about her were those beautiful eyes and the way she always held her head as she walked down the runway. The lady could walk, none of that marching mess they have today. Pure elegance at it's best. When you saw her in print, again pure elegance.

Thank God I still have all of my old Essence Magazines from the 70's and 80's because the internet has no photos of her. I'll be putting out the first even though certain newspapers and magazines have their archives and pull them out only when needed.

The models of her day, Pat, Mounia, Almalia, Rebekka, Katoucha, Alva, Kirat, Anna Bayle, Dalma and even Iman had this allure and regality about themselves that made the women at the shows buy those designer clothes by the dozens. These women were the "Super Models Of Color" in my day, sure there were others but these were the ones who stood out the most and you would clap along with the patrons because this is how good they were.

These women were more than just "Super Models" to me, they were an inspiration, that let me know that I also could be whatever I wanted and that I too was beautiful. I miss those days when diversity once ruled the catwalks. If fashion is green(dollars), then why is there no diversity?

A lot of former "Super Models" have married quite well, and have gone off into the fashion sunset and are doing other things in the arts and fashion industry. I don't know where you are in the world today? I do wish you well and I thank you for showing me what fabulous style really means.


Anonymous said...

I agree that Billie Blair was one the most magnificent models to grace the "CATWALK". I knew Billie many years ago, and we have since lost touch with each other. I wish her well. Thank you for reminding me of this true Fashion Icon!

Anonymous said...

Billie is currently going to my college! =) She's a lovely person and so full of energy. I get to go on a spring break trip with her this coming week.

Dee Truth said...

As a teen, Billie Blair was one of many black ROCK STAR models of my youth. Pat Cleveland was another.

Black elegance and ferocity personified!

AS you said, she and others paved the way for the Naomis and Tyras of the world.


Anonymous said...

I rent Billie movies and she is still just as beautiful! She seems to be a good Christian woman and always has a bright smile to show when she comes in!!

Divalocity said...

Wow! I'm so glad that I'm not the only one who truly admires and remembers our greats. Thank you all for commenting on my blog.

Anonymous said...

Hello Divalocity:

Terrific blog. I discovered it after Googling Ms. Blair's name, so impressed was I to read Guy Trebay's absolutely wonderful tribute to the cultural importance of her and her sisters in the industry, as published in today's New York Times. See "Looking Back at American Fashion’s Coming-Out Party," on the 1973 Grand Divertissement show in France, in which she participated. A great quote from her appears in Mr. Trebay's piece.

Also, bravo and thanks to you for preserving some of the history still only to be found off-line, in print publications from the 70s and 80s. One person's trash is indeed another person's treasure.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for such a lovely dedication. Oprah should do a story on them because I doubt if Essence ever will since they are now the black version of People magazine. They don't feature our history any more. Such a shame for a once great magazine.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting these lovely photos of Billie. I've known her for years and she truly is a living legend. As a 60 year old grandmother my kids told me to Google her name and that's when I saw her photos. You have the first photos of her on the web alone with another website so if anyone else has photos, it is because they took yours. Hopefully they'll have the decency to acknowledge you as my grandkids say," pay it forward." Two of my grandchildren have blogs and they tell me all the time how their content is stolen by other blogs who never link to them.

Shirley A. said...

Thank for youe kind comments about Billiue Blair. I am a Flint, Michigam resident, and I remember Billie very well. She had such beauty and style. During the ninetys, Billie was a member of my church. She was always gracious and humble. She left Flint and I lost track of her. I still remember how beautiful she was walking down the runway.

Anonymous said...

Billie lives in the same apartment complex at my great aunt and I just saw her today in Goodwill!

Unknown said...

I had the pleasure of meeting this lovely lady just two days ago. Beautiful inside and out, humble, and funny as heck. Listening to her talk, I wish I would have been alive to see her in all her glory (I'm only 36, lol)