alva, jaunel and shelby

Photo: Lorenzo Agius

The Trailblazers
"At the time I didn't know the significance of what we did at Versailles; I was just happy to be there," says Alva Chinn, flanked by Jaunel McKenzie and Shelby Coleman. "But there's always somebody who makes an entryway for the next generation."

Learn more about the stunning women who lit up the runway at 1973's Battle of Versailles.

From left, on Jaunel: Dress, Ali Ro, $265. Earrings, Lionette Designs by Noa Sade. Necklace, Deanna Hamro. Bracelet, Coralia Leets. On Alva: Shirt and skirt, L'Wren Scott. Vest, Stella McCartney, $815. Bracelet, Roarke New York. On Shelby: Dress, Tory Burch, $595. Necklace, Glamourpuss NYC. Bracelet, Ben-Amun
pat cleveland

Photo: Lorenzo Agius

Women's Movement
"Versailles was about more than modeling," says Pat Cleveland. "It was about energy and spirit."

Shirt, Brunello Cucinelli, $920. Jacket, Rag & Bone, $495. Pants, Ralph Lauren Collection. Tie, Thomas Pink. Earrings and ring, Fantasy Jewelry Box. Necklace, Carolee.
shelby coleman

Photo: Lorenzo Agius

Well Suited
"Black models work twice as hard as anyone else," says Coleman. "There are fewer jobs and we're not always the star of the campaigns, but we're making progress and I'm happy about that."

Dress, Rachel Gilbert, $950. Blazer, Rachel Zoe, $425. Earrings, Auden. Ring, Fantasy Jewelry Box.
Pat, Alva and Jaunel

Photo: Lorenzo Agius

"We broke the mold. We brought in new ideas and you had to either go with the flow or be left behind."—Pat Cleveland

From left, on Pat: Dress, Ralph Lauren Collection. Blazer, Sandro, $460. Earrings, Meira T. Necklace, Miguel Ases. Bracelet, Ann Taylor. Shoes, Oscar de la Renta. On Alva: Dress, Carolina Herrera. Vest, Lover, $675. Necklace, Art of Henri. On Jaunel: Dress, Naeem Khan. Earrings, Art of Henri. Bracelet, Kara Ackerman Designs. Rings, Miriam Salat. Shoes, Rene Caovilla.
Bethann, Kinee and Shelby

Photo: Lorenzo Agius

"Casting directors used to say, 'No blacks, no ethnics.' Now they'd never say that."—Bethann Hardison

From left, on Bethann: Sequin top, Adrianna Papell, $139. Shawl, BLK DNM, $350. Skirt, St. John. Earrings, Anna e Alex. Necklaces, Auden and Carolee. Bracelet, Lulu Frost. Ring, Coralia Leets. On Kinee: Dress, Alberta Ferretti. Earrings, Moon and Lola. Necklace, Millianna. Bracelet, Lulu Frost. Ring, Kara Ackerman Designs. Shoes, Brian Atwood. On Shelby: Dress, Gucci. Necklace, C. Wonder. Bracelet, Lionette Designs by Noa Sade. Ring, Pamela Love. Shoes, Giuseppe Zanotti Design.
kinee diouf

Photo: Lorenzo Agius

Love and Happiness
"The Versailles models were so elegant, but you could also see they were having fun—lots of dancing and moving," says Kinee Diouf. "Now models play it more straight."

Dress, Maggie Norris Couture. Earrings, Anton Heunis. Necklaces, Brunello Cucinelli and Miriam Haskell. Bracelet, Miriam Haskell. Shoes, Ivanka Trump.
jaunel mckenzie

Photo: Lorenzo Agius

"The standards of beauty have changed. It's not about the American girl next door anymore."—Jaunel McKenzie

Dress, Alice + Olivia by Stacey Bendet, $550. Necklaces, Millianna and Colette. Belt, Meredith Wendell. Shoes, Ralph Lauren Collection.
shelby, kinee and jaunel

Photo: Lorenzo Agius

The New Guard
"Kinee has done extraordinary magazine spreads around the world," says Hardison. "Jaunel did a lot of designer shows. And Shelby has gotten a beauty campaign. It's all because of what we worked for before this."

On Shelby: Shirt, $295, and pants, $495, Rachel Zoe. Blazer, BLK DNM, $695. Earrings, Miguel Ases. Necklace, Stella & Dot. On Kinee: Dress, Rachel Gilbert, $660. Earrings, Lionette Designs by Noa Sade. Necklace, Adia Kibur. Bracelet, Ann Taylor. Shoes, Ralph Lauren Collection. On Jaunel: Dress, Elizabeth and James, $445. Earrings, Fantasy Jewelry Box. Bracelet, Lulu Frost. Boa, Ralph Lauren Collection. Shoes, Rene Caovilla.

Blazer, Escada, $1,325. Shell, Joie, $258. Pants, Donna Karan New York, $895. Earrings, Oscar de la Renta. Shoes, Chinese Laundry.

Read More: The Bold and the Beautiful: 3 Women Who Paved the Way for Black Models