BILL VAUGHAN’S TASTY CLIPS: New documentaries focus on style icons Luna, Hardison 

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By Bill Vaughan

Entertainment Writer 

The remarkable lives and careers of two groundbreaking fashion icons are on display in a pair of new documentaries headed our way. 

Donyale Luna: Supermodel,” directed by Nailah Jefferson and debuting Sept. 13 on HBO/Max, chronicles the impact of the first Black model to grace the cover of both Harper’s Bazaar (1965) and Vogue (1966). Breaking barriers in the fashion industry, challenging the prevailing ideals of beauty, and influencing culture in the late 1960s and early ’70s, Luna remains largely unknown despite her stunning body of work and her collaborations with some of the foremost fashion photographers of the 20th century. 

Detailed is the complex backstory of the woman born Peggy Ann Freeman in Detroit, who forged her own destiny by creating an otherworldly persona — a larger-than-life character with an exotic accent and a mysterious aura. Echoing Luna’s unique style, the film highlights the story of someone who refused to be boxed in by the conventions of the time and who had great wounds from her difficult childhood and the racism she encountered in her profession. 

After working in New York with famed photographer Richard Avedon and collaborating with Andy Warhol, Luna made her way to London in the 1960s, feeling more at home in Europe, where she also worked with Salvador Dali. She later met and married photographer Luigi Cazzaniga in Italy, where she explored her true love, avant-garde theater and film, before her early death at the age of 33. 

Featured participants in the film contextualizing Luna’s influence on the fashion and art world in the 1960s are supermodels Beverly Johnson and Pat Cleveland; Vogue global editor-at-large Hamish Bowles; photographers David Bailey, David McCabe and Gideon Lewin; fashion designers Zandra Rhodes and Aurora James; former Essence editor-in-chief Constance White; family, friends and more.

Coming to theaters beginning Sept. 15 (with a L.A. opening Sept. 22), is Magnolia Pictures’ “Invisible Beauty,” a beautiful and essential story of fashion icon Bethann Hardison, directed by Hardison and Frédéric Tcheng (“Halston,” “Dior and I”). 

The Lisa Cortés-produced documentary, of which Naomi Campbell is an executive producer, focuses on the pioneering Black model, modeling agent and entrepreneur, who has pushed the boundaries of fashion culture and has been at the forefront of progress throughout her career. 

In her lifetime, Hardison has seen the pendulum swing toward and away from the Black model. At every setback, she spoke up and rallied her colleagues and clients in the industry to advance change. 

Now in her 70s, the Brooklyn native is writing her memoir and taking stock of her own legacy at a moment when the fashion industry was shaken by discrimination. Featuring intimate interviews with luminaries including Iman, Tyson Beckford, Tracee Ellis Ross, Zendaya, Fran Lebowitz, Pat Cleveland, Campbell and Stephen Burrows, the film is an absorbing record of the racial evolution of fashion and an original contemplation on the life of an unparalleled trailblazer.

“Often I have said I didn’t think I had a story to document but once I got out of my way and allowed the collaboration with Frédéric, it made me a believer,” Hardison said. “The impact of hearing the responses of the audience has made me know further that this is and will be a film of legacy. If you dare to dream, things can happen. Just be comfortable with what you want because you need to be ready to let the ‘shoe fit.’” 

CLIPPETTES: Stephanie Mills is in concert Sept. 8 at The Novo, as Arturo Sandoval & the LA All Stars play Catalina Bar & Grill; and Maxwell begins three consecutive nights of fireworks at the Hollywood Bowl with separate openers Pink Sweat$, SiR and Raveena, respectively  

Sept. 9 brings plenty of options with Johnny Mathis at the Cerritos Center, Ben Williams and Georgia Anne Muldrow at the Moss Theater, the Jonas Brothers at Dodger Stadium, Ja Rule at the Morongo Casino, Maluma at The Forum, Aluna at the Fonda, Don Mclean at the Saban, Flypoet Summer Classic at The Ford, and JpegMafia and Danny Brown at the Palladium  

Additionally, the LA Jazz Society is presenting its 40th Anniversary Celebration Concert with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra at The Montalban; and A Concert for the Ed Asner Family Center is being held at the Orpheum Theatre with Ringo Starr, Stone Temple Pilots, Joe Bonamassa, Toto, Colin Hay and Hoobastank … 

Keke Palmer headlines at The Roxy on Sept. 11 as the Pentatonix World Tour while Lauren Alaina comes to FivePoint Amphitheatre and The Temptations & The Four Tops sing the hits at the Cerritos Center  

Grammy winning multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier collaborates with Thomas Wilkins and the LA Phil at the Hollywood Bowl on Sept. 13, while The Eric Andre Explosion happens at the Lodge Room and Todrick Hall is at the Saban. Also, Rick Springfield comes to YouTube Theater and Ayra Starr performs at The Fonda.  

TASTY QUIP: “I would tell my younger self just be yourself — that who you are is good enough” – VIOLA DAVIS

TC ON TV: Sept. 8 – “Sitting in Bars with Cake” (Prime Video): Yara Shahidi (“black-ish”) is the executive producer and star of this fact-based tale of a 20-something baker whose cakes bring all the boys to the yard. “The Changeling” (Apple TV+): An eight-part drama series starring and executive produced by Academy Award-nominee LaKeith Stanfield (“Atlanta,” “Judas and the Black Messiah”) based on the acclaimed best-selling book by Victor LaValle. The “fairytale for grown-ups” co-stars Adina Porter (“American Horror Story”) and Malcolm Barrett (“Average Joe”). “Time of Essence” (OWN): “The 2000s” 

Sept. 9 – “CBS Saturday Morning” (CBS): Canadian singer-songwriter, musician and activist Allison Russell performs selections from her new album “The Returner.” “Hip Hop Treasures” (A&E): “Flavor Flav/CeeLo Green/The Furious Five 

Sept. 10 – “Lust, Lies & Polygamy” (Lifetime): Alicia S. Mason, Tremayne Norris, and Maya Walker are featured in this movie about woman who finds her married life isn’t as perfect as she believes. “The Masked Singer” (Fox): The premiere will deliver a special celebrity performance and reveal one of the biggest, can’t-miss unmaskings in the show’s history! The episode will also feature the return of celebrity alumni from previous seasons (Michelle Williams & Rumer Willis, Joey Fatone & Bow Wow, Victor Oladipo & Barry Zito) pairing up for all-new duet performances. “Dreaming Whilst Black” (SHO): A six-episode dramedy from Great Britain about a young artist pursuing his movie-making dreams. “Ride with Norman Reedus” (AMC): The sixth season premieres with a trip to the Utah desert with Keanu Reeves. 

Sept. 11 – “American Experience” (PBS): On Sept. 12, 1974, police were stationed outside Boston schools as Black and white students were bused for the first time to comply with a federal court desegregation order. Shocking violence, directed mostly at children, ensued. “The Busing Battleground” illuminates the volatile effort to end school segregation, and the decades-long struggle for educational equity that preceded the crisis. “Halloween Baking Championship” (Food): Carla Hall hosts this battle between America’s top bakers battle to create spooky, irresistible desserts. 

Sept. 12 – “2023 MTV Video Music Awards” (MTV/BET/VH1/Logo/Comedy): Live from Newark’s Prudential Center with performances by Sean “Diddy” Combs (who will also receive the Global Icon Award), Lil Wayne, Doja Cat, Demi Lovato, Karol G and more. “American Experience” (PBS): “The Harvest: Integrating Mississippi’s Schools” looks back at how school integration transformed Mississippi following the lives of a class of the children into the present. It is also a portrait of what our society has lost in its failure to finish the work begun a generation ago.

Sept. 13 – “The Other Black Girl” (Hulu): Follows Nella (Sinclair Daniel), an editorial assistant, who is tired of being the only Black girl at Wagner Books so she’s excited when Hazel (Ashleigh Murray) is hired. But as Hazel’s star begins to rise, Nella spirals out and discovers something sinister is going on at the company. With Garcelle Beauvais, Bellamy Young, and Eric McCormack. “Assisted Living” (BET): The Tyler Perry-created sitcom with David & Tamela Mann and J. Anthony Brown returns. “

Sept. 14 – “À La Carte” (AllBlk): A second season of the series with Pauline Dyer, Kandi Burress, Dorien Wilson, Robinne Lee and Kelly Price. “As Luck Would Have It: Murder For Sale” (LMN): The finale of the Jackee Harry mystery movie trilogy. 

END QUOTE: “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud. Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking.” – MAYA ANGELOU 

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