For Bethann Hardison, the stakes have always been high. “In the end, the idea of winning is important,” the former model recently told Vanity Fair. After walking in the history-making Battle of Versailles fashion show in 1973 and later becoming a modeling agent focused on diversity (she also discovered Tyson Beckford), Hardison forever changed the world of fashion. She later dedicated herself to championing equitable change across the industry and is now the subject and codirector of the newly released documentary Invisible Beauty, streaming on VOD. “If you’re going to step into something, just plan on winning,” she said of her approach to both her career and advocacy.
Invisible Beauty offers viewers an intimate look at the many triumphs throughout Hardison’s life on and off the runway, and though she was not the original focus of the project, codirector Frédéric Tcheng saw an opportunity to showcase a vibrant individual with a changing industry as the backdrop.
“When I came on board, the question for Bethann was, should the film no longer be about the industry because she had changed the industry without an exposé coming out…should the film be about Bethann?” he said. “A lot of people were whispering that it should be about Bethann, and I was in that camp. I really thought she was an incredible personality, one in a million, like Diana Vreeland, who I had made a film about, and she was alive.”
Long before she was in front of Tcheng’s lens, Hardison always felt seen. “I never had a problem coming up in the industry because I was so supported,” she said, describing what propelled her to educate and uplift those who lacked the same sense of community. This made positioning her as both subject and storyteller a natural choice for Tcheng. “I felt like the right way to do it was to break down that barrier that normally exists and to do something much more integrated, much more conversational, and much deeper,” he said.