Patricia Cleveland is a fashion model who initially attained success in the 1960s and 1970s and was one of the first African-American models within the fashion industry to achieve prominence as a runway model and print model.
Cleveland was born in New York City in 1950 to Johnny Johnston, a white jazz saxophonist of Irish and Swedish ancestry, and Lady Bird Cleveland, an artist of African-American and Native-American ancestry.
She was raised in Harlem by her mother after her father left the family. She studied performing arts at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School and design at New York’s High School of Art and Design. Her dreams were of someday becoming a fashion designer.
In 1966, while on a subway platform, Cleveland and a friend was headed to class and was noticed by an assistant fashion editor at Vogue, Carrie Donovan. Donovan was impressed by Cleveland’s clothing and invited her to tour the offices at Vogue. A feature on Donovan was later published as an up and coming young fashion designer. Cleveland was later approached by Ebony which asked her to model for their Fashion Fair runway tour.
After touring with Ebony, Cleveland claimed to experience acts of violent racism in the Southern United States, she caught the attention of designers such as Jacques Tiffeau and Stephen Burrows. At age 18, she was signed to Ford Models after designer Oleg Cassini recommended her to Eileen Ford.
During the 1970s she modeled for designers such as Valentino, Oscar de la Renta, Yves Saint Laurent, Thierry Mugler, Diane von Furstenberg and Christian Dior. The highlight of her success in Europe was her participation in the November 28, 1973 Battle of Versailles Fashion Show.
After Beverly Johnson became the first black model to appear on the cover of American Vogue in August 1974, Pat Cleveland returned to the United States and continued her modeling career. From the early to late 1970s.