Bill Cunningham/ The New York Times, file
August 3, 2006
Model Dorothea Towles Church, July 7
Dorothea Towles Church, the first successful black model in Paris, died on Friday, July 7, 2006, in Manhattan. She was 83. In the late 1940s, after some early modeling experience in Los Angeles, Church took a trip to Paris with her sister, Lois, a music student who planned to study there. She called on several French designers and was hired at Christian Dior to fill in for a house model who was on vacation. From Dior, Church went to work for Elsa Schiaparelli and, later, Pierre Balmain. Doors opened easily, and she decided to stay in Paris. "For once I was not considered black, African American or Negro. I was just an American," Church recalled in a 2004 interview with Women's Wear Daily. This photo was taken in 2005.