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JoAni Johnson: Suddenly a Supermodel at 67

Meet JoAni Johnson, one of the faces of singer Rihanna’s new fashion label.

You may know that in addition to her huge hits “Umbrella,” “Diamonds,” “Work,” and more, singer Rihanna launched a mega-successful beauty brand that celebrates diversity with 50 shades of foundation and concealer. But now, she’s starting a fashion collection for LVMH, the powerful French luxury goods company, and she personally selected a gorgeous 67-year-old model for her campaign.

Johnson is diverse in many ways and a terrific embodiment of aging boldly.

Meet JoAni Johnson, who is relatively new to being in front of the camera, but worked behind the scenes in the fashion industry in merchandising, pattern-making and selling years ago. She was discovered on the street a couple of years ago, appeared in a 2016 video about age and beauty for Allure, which went viral, and her modeling career took off from there, with ads and runway gigs being added to her résumé.

Read More: The Fabulous Gray-Haired Swimsuit Model On How She Got Her Start

An Unconventional Path

JoAni Johnson (far right) in the campaign for Rihanna’s new collection for LVMH. Image: JoAni Johnson/Instagram

The fact that she’s in her 60s, African American, gray-haired, and “only” 5-foot-4 compared to her taller modeling colleagues makes Johnson diverse in many ways and a terrific embodiment of aging boldly. We’re also moved by her personal story. When she was stopped on the street for that fateful photo, she hadn’t wanted to participate, but her husband, Peter Johnson, encouraged her to do it and kept on nudging her to try new things as her career blossomed.

In a recent  interview, Johnson describes his fan behavior: “The best part of walking the [Fashion Week] runway was that my husband was going to be there. He’d jump in front of the photographers and get the shot they were getting. It annoyed them so much.” Tragically, he died unexpectedly late in 2017, but Johnson says his spirit still guides her: “All this is for him… There are so many times that I know that he’s with me. On my last shoot, for example, they put on a song that was something that we used to listen to together—I knew that he was there,” she has said.

And while her work may be for him, it also benefits all of us out there who love seeing our age represented as beautiful and inspiring. We can’t wait to see more of her powerful presence in ads.

Read More: Meet America’s Amazing Older Instagram Models

By Janet Siroto


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