Beverly Johnson knows the simple reason she walked on the runways of two trendy designers at New York Fashion Week: They asked.

Johnson, now 69, is a grandmother and one of the first supermodels. She was a Black woman who broke the barriers and redefined the beauty standards of the day by being on the cover for American Vogue in 1974. Her career took off and she was a sought-after figure for decades, appearing on the covers of hundreds upon thousands of magazines.

Johnson, a businesswoman and author, was back to her modeling roots this week and walked the runways for Sergio Hudson, Bibhu Mohapatra. On Tuesday, she was the last model to walk in Mohapatra’s show. The crowd cheered and clapped when they saw her.

Johnson smiled as she took her turn down runway wearing a flowing white gown with sleeves that were sleeveless and topped off by a black flowered, lace sleeve. Johnson wore a long, dramatic black cape, which she flipped while she turned. She acknowledged that she needed to practice before the show.

“After that walking lesson, everything was fine. Johnson said it was a beautiful, wonderful experience after she had taken the walking lesson at Mohapatra’s show. Several people were gathered around Johnson to take photos. Johnson is a fashion pioneer and has been moved by the current push to increase diversity in the industry.

Johnson cried, saying, “All the models in the Mohapatra Show were models of color in honour of Black History Month and — you’re going make me cry right now.” It will be my 50th year of being the first Black woman on American Vogue’s cover in 2024. This show means a lot.

Sergio Hudson’s show — a Black designer who is making huge strides in the fashion industry. She said that it was amazing to see such a thing. “It was something I didn’t have growing up in the 70s, 80s and ’90s.”

Johnson has been a participant in numerous fashion weeks over the years and enjoys spending time backstage with younger models. Johnson found them “beautiful and elegant” and “wonderful.”

She noticed a big difference between them, and her peers. The girls are taller than the boys. Sergio’s show was amazing. There was not one below 6 feet. She smiled and said, “Usually it was 5-10 people before that.”