JoAni Johnson may have been hesitant to start her modelling career at first, but the 67-year-old just landed the gig most models dream of. The New York native is one of the faces for Rihanna's new luxury clothing line with LVMH, Fenty. Prior to becoming one of Rih's luxury fashion muses, Johnson starred in a viral 2016 Allure video about her gray hair, and modeled for brands like Eileen Fisher, Tome, Deveaux, and CDLM by Chris Peters.
And to think, Johnson's career started with a street style photo that she didn't want to pose for. Just before Allure reached out, in 2016, Johnson was in Manhattan with her late husband Peter when a photographer asked to take her picture. “I didn’t want to. But my husband said, ‘C’mon, let her take the photo.’,” she told Refinery29 in February. A few weeks later, a casting agent reached out to Johnson asking her to film a video about her grey hair. “I asked my husband first and, again, he said, ‘Go ahead, just try it.’ I didn’t know what they wanted. I was semi-retired and working on my tea blending business. But then I went and that was the Allure video.”
Johnson told Refinery29 that after her husband's sudden passing last November, modelling gave her a renewed sense of purpose. “I tell people all the time: I do this because he loved me doing it. I know that he would have wanted me to continue.”
The beauty of Rihanna casting Johnson in her first major ad campaign for Fenty is that it reinforces Rih's commitment to creating greater inclusivity in fashion — not just in terms of race and size, but age too.