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PAT CLEVELAND


By Marcellous L. Jones


Born Patricia Cleveland in New York in 1952, the American girl with the seemingly indomitable hair would one day grow up to become the internationally acclaimed and legendary supermodel more commonly known to the world as Pat Cleveland.

Pat Cleveland grew up in a family with versed in the arts. She too studied art at the High School of Art and Design from where she graduated in 1969. She also studied art at the LaGuardia School of Art. As a fifteen year old in 1967, she was discovered in the subway by Vogue editor Carrie Donovan while in route to classes. Donovan invited her into the offices of Vogue to do a trial shoot. These days such a thing would lead to a natural “…and the rest is history” sideline, but these were different times in America. And black models were not yet considered as mainstream assets or prized players in the fashion industry.

Pat’s first work as a model came for designer Jacques Tiffeau. As artists Pat’s parents were very open-minded and supportive of her efforts to become a model. She was booked by the legendary Eunice Johnson to travel as a model with the Ebony Fashion Fair. When she began working, her mother Lady Bird would travel with her as a chaperone. The two were very close, sat with each other on the Greyhound bus during trips and even shared the same bed. Her mom even made by hand half of Pat’s clothes. Pat considered her mother to be her protector and even her best friend. For this Cleveland always grew up with a true sense of what a good parent was. This instilled in her a desire to one day become a wife and mother. Years later and as a tribute to her mother, Pat would curate a collection of her mother’s art destined for exposition at the Smithsonian.

Pat Cleveland found successes in both print and on the runway, something very unusual at this time. Bac...

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