Naomi Campbell, Kimora Lee Simmons, Tyra Banks, Tyson Beckford were dazzling, barrier-breaking supermodels of color in the ’90s. But two decades earlier, Bethann Hardison burst onto French and American runways with a defiant strut and sui generis personality. In this intimate and insightful documentary, INVISIBLE BEAUTY, fashion revolutionary and co-director Bethann Hardison looks back on her journey as a pioneering Black model, modeling agent, and activist, shining a light on an untold chapter in the fight for racial diversity. Catalyzing change requires continuous championing, and as the next generation takes the reins, Hardison reflects on her personal journey and the cost of being a pioneer, as well as the satisfaction of being the first Black woman to own a racially diverse modeling agency, Hardison called out fashion houses around the world (including Prada and Calvin Klein) for the lack of models of color in their shows and the exclusionary casting calls that had become rampant in the industry (“No Blacks, no ethnics”), while profiting from Black consumers. In tandem with Frédéric Tcheng (Halston, Dior and I), Bethann Hardison and her co-director trace her impact on fashion from runway shows in New York and Paris in the ’70s to roundtables about lack of racial diversity in the early 2000s. Interviews with industry players speak to the state of fashion, while friends and family attest to Hardison’s rebellious and ambitious spirit. INVISIBLE BEAUTY is an absorbing record of Hardison’s accomplishments and a rare contemplation on the life of a radical thinker. The co-directors Bethann Hardison and Frederic Tcheng join us for a conversation on the cinematic and personal journey that the film has taken them on.
About the filmmaker – Bethann Hardison – former model, advocate, and founder of the modeling and management agency that bears her name – has long been a groundbreaker in the world of fashion. She has helped guide the careers of some of the most prominent models in recent times and through her decades of advocacy work has challenged and helped change common notions of beauty by consistently championing diversity in the fashion industry. For more go to: bethannhardison.com
About the filmmaker – Frédéric Tcheng is a French-born filmmaker. Dior and I, his award-winning directorial debut, premiered at the Tribeca film festival in 2014. Tcheng directed the 2019 documentary Halston, a CNN Films and Amazon Original production. His most recent film Invisible Beauty premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Tcheng had previously co-produced and co-edited the 2009 hit documentary Valentino: The Last Emperor, and co-directed the 2011 documentary Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel.
“Riveting. Hardison’s remarkable and fabulous life serves an inspiring lesson in effecting radical change from within the system.” – Jude Dry, IndieWire
“An appreciative self-portrait of the fashion world maverick, a reflective story of how one woman worked to move her industry’s stubborn needle of progress. (Bethann Hardison’s) charisma… made her a natural leader and problem solver. Warm anecdotes, glittering testimonies and fond memories. An illuminating and sturdy paean to an influential industry leader.” – Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter
“It was Hardison’s activism in the industry that cemented her position as a true advocate and icon in fashion. [She] has always been at the forefront of change and representation. [She] is direct and authentic about who she is.” – Kovie Biakolo, Essence Magazine