The Vault

25.07.14 | Donyale Luna 1945-1979

Donyale Luna is one of the most fascinating women to command the global fashion scene of the 1960s. She unfortunately died far too young, but in her short life she made left behind stunning visuals that still take your breath away. 8 facts you need to know about Donyale below:

1. In 1966, she became the first black woman to cover British Vogue shot by David Bailey.
2. She was always eccentric. Her sister described her as “a very weird child, even from birth, living in a wonderland, a dream”. She would routinely create fantasies about her background and herself. She invented the name Donyale for herself in high school and her classmates described her as “kind of a kook”.
3. Shortly after being discovered the press instantly claimed her as a phenomenon. Time magazine published on April 1, 1966, “The Luna Year”, described her as “a new heavenly body who, because of her striking singularity, promises to remain on high for many a season. Donyale Luna, as she calls herself, is unquestionably the hottest model in Europe at the moment. She is only 20, a Negro, hails from Detroit, and is not to be missed if one reads Harper’s Bazaar, Paris Match, Britain’s Queen, the British, French or American editions of Vogue.
4. She did a shoot for Playboy in 1975 photographed by Luigi Cazzaniga. Some of the images appear in the gallery above.
5. She crossed over into film appearing in Andy Warhol’s ‘Camp’, Fellini’s ‘Satyricon’ and the ‘Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus’.
6. Salvador Dali considered her one of his favorite models.
7. She was married briefly in the mid 1960s, to a man described as a gigolo. Later she was engaged to the Austrian actor Maximilian Schell, to an unnamed Danish photographer, and to George Willings, a German actor who appeared in European horror films and with the Living Theatre.
8. She loved LSD “I think it’s great. I learned that I like to live, I like to make love, I really do love somebody, I love flowers, I love the sky, I like bright colors, I like animals. [LSD] also showed me unhappy things — that I was stubborn, selfish, unreasonable, mean, that I hurt other people.” Unfortunately, continued drug use led to her untimely death.