There are women who paved the way in fashion, and there are trailblazers—and then, if you’re lucky enough, you’ll encounter fashion’s “Oracle,” Bethann Hardison. A model, advocate, agent and activist, Hardison is a force of nature who has worked tirelessly to change the way the industry engages with race and ensure that Black talent can thrive, and has done it with the grace and poise of the icon that she is—and it’s safe to say that her moment is ongoing. As writer Joan Morgan recently sat down with the 2021 TGU 50 honoree in her Gramercy Park home, she began to unpack the legend that is Bethann for British Vogue.
Hardison has paved the way for so many Black women in the fashion industry, most notably, Naomi Campbell. Hardison explains how she headed straight into Campbell’s London home looking to represent the then 14-year-old Naomi. Her eponymous model and talent agency, Bethann Management, “was the first of its kind helmed by a black woman and unique in an industry that frequently turned a deaf ear to demands for diversity,” writes Morgan.
“I just saw such sincerity,” remembers Campbell. “This woman’s more than just a model agent. This is someone I want in my life forever. If I’m honest, Bethann has been a mother to everyone that she embraces. And as you know, she’s not a pushy mother. But she is going to tell it to you like it is. She doesn’t mince words.”