“Fashion revolutionist” has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

That’s how The Root describes Bethann Hardison, the former model who has been leading the charge to bring more diversity to fashion week runways. It was Hardison, along with Iman and Naomi Campbell, who sent a (no longer) anonymous letter to the Council of Fashion Designers of America. The letter, posted on a website titled Balance Diversity, name checked 50 big-name designer houses (Chanel, Prada, Versace, Marc Jacobs) that used no models of color (or nearly none) in their Fall ’13 shows back in February. Much to my dismay, the list includes several of California’s best-known brands.

They signed the letter “The Coalition.”

Of course, Hardison has long been on the forefront of raising African American visibility in modeling. She was one of the 12 African American models who participated in Le Grand Divertissement à Versailles, the 1973 fund-raiser and showdown between French and American designers. (The story is the subject of the 2012 documentary “Versailles 73” by Deborah Riley Draper.)


Bethann Hardison and Ramona Sauders in Versailles in 1973

The Root’s interview with Hardison is a great read—thanks to Hardison’s clear-eyed assessment of the current state of the runways.

I also recommend the Paper magazine interview between Hardison and Paper’s co-editor-in-chief Kim Hastreiter. (The interview is also where I found the gorgeous Bridgette Lacombe photo of Hardison at the top of the page.)

If you want more straight-talk from Hardison, check out this video that aired on BET earlier this year. She tells it like it was—and still is.