Invisible Beauty

Invisible Beauty
Invisible Beauty
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The top documentary in town this fall is Invisible Beauty, not only because it is excellent, touching, appealing and thought provoking. It as well gives you a chance to meet a unique type of human being with an outlook on life and vibrant determination to combat racism in the modeling industry that’s worth watching. It has been directed by Bethann Hardison herself alongside Frédéric Tcheng; French genius filmmaker behind Dior and I and Halston with Naomi Campbell as one of the many executive producers.

The fashion documentary provides similar emotional responses as Iris does while it depicts Hardison who is one of the most celebrated pioneers in the fashion industry. The unapologetic Black model, modeling agent, and entrepreneur boldly pushed boundaries of fashion culture. Since they go together perfectly, Hardison and Tcheng track her impact during 1970s up to illuminating roundtable discussions about lack of racial diversity in early 2000s. You might be too bold to say so but you require something more at the end. There can be no other person like Bethann Hardison.

Creatively, the filmmakers do a fantastic job capturing who Bethann Hardison is during her time in modelling and how she changed fashion forever. In addition to Iman Beckford Tyson Ross Zendaya Lebowitz Fran Cleveland Pat Campbell Naomi Goldberg Whoopi (who played Sofia Johnson in Color Purple) View Stephen Burrows among others were interviewed for this documentary film. Adding some reflections by Hardision on her own life makes this documentary a great piece that captures the essence of an amazing pioneer and history of racial changes in fashion.

The opening scene shows Hardison thinking about her upcoming memoir which helps tell her story throughout decades. Soon enough we learn from other accounts that she was actually “Black” looking black model who was allowed into modelling business over four decades ago when she was growing up in New York City area.. She pays tribute to Willie Smith for launching her modeling career.

“Nothing in the white advertising pages or the white television or the beautiful blonde girl walking down the street ever made me want to look like her or be like her because where we came from, we had so much going on,” Hardison notes in the documentary. Here she talks about growing up amidst neighborhood and community of South Philadelphia and later Brooklyn

“We are fashion girls,” Hardison notes here. “Not because we’re involved with the fashion business, we just are because our great-grandmothers are, and grandmothers… If you did nothing else, you wore clothes and looked good.” This explains why unlike any other form of media that has addressed this woman’s life before it proceeds into conversations about inclusion, diversity and lack thereof even within the fashion industry, is also helpful in understanding what she stands for as a person. It highlights who Hardison is –in essence until it progresses into discussions about lack of diversity or inclusion even within fashion world.

Whoopi Goldberg at one point says this of Bethann: “Much of what’s happened in the past 20 years would probably be another 25 years in coming without her.” There are many other accolades given to Hardison throughout. The film makers do well not to overstate themselves here given everything surrounding Hardison being co-director for her own doc.

The sizzle begins after the middle of the documentary. We have gone through a lot of fashion images and history as well as Hardison’s life journey up to this point but a major turning point occurs with a group discussion on diversity in the fashion industry and calls for more inclusion.

“There are 10 of my pet peeves in my industry? Number one: many times, image creators who do not have the eye for black beauty,” says Hardison at some point. “Number two: “We can only have one top model or working girl of color at a time. Number three: This statement that black girls or black covers don’t sell.”

It’s an arresting sequence filled with tantalizing verbal exchanges. Watch Hardison here if you’ve ever wanted to learn how to run a room. Flawless. Unhesitant. Self-possessed. Periods. The documentaries’ final seconds make it seem like we just had something very rare, maybe even perception-changing. And yet Documentaries in themselves are designed to do this, at least to some extent; however there is something worthwhile about how Invisible Beauty seizes the day and gives viewers not just sets of principles they should be aiming towards but reasons why we should truly care about equality with everything around us

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