Vanity Fair - 08/23 - How Gösta Peterson, the Photographer’s Photographer, Kept a Low Profile While Making Fashion History

When the photographer Gösta Peterson shot a relatively unknown model named Naomi Sims for the cover of the Fashions of the Times (a special section of The New York Times Magazine) in the summer of 1967, it heralded a seminal moment in fashion history. That arresting portrait of Sims, elegantly clad in a black cape and wide-brimmed hat, is considered the first cover by a major American fashion magazine with a mixed-race audience to feature a Black model.

“She just felt like the right model at the right time for that. We weren’t trying to prove anything,” recalls Patricia Peterson, the magazine’s editor at that time (and Gösta Peterson’s wife, with whom he frequently collaborated). Indeed, Gösta, who was known for his quick, often improvisational style of photography, was more incentivized by the allure of a fresh face than making history or notions of celebrity. Earlier that year, he was also the first of his industry peers to photograph Twiggy in the United States. Again, it was a matter of capturing images of the waifish Brit before becoming disinterested by her inevitable ubiquity.

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