Modeling Trailblazer Beverly Johnson Returns to NYFW Runway for Dennis Basso 40th Anniversary Show

Johnson shut down the runway in a golden gown

Beverly Johnson
Photo: Arturo Holmes/Getty

Beverly Johnson shut down the runway at New York Fashion Week in true supermodel style.

Johnson, who was the first Black woman to grace the covers of Vogue and Elle, strutted the runway in Dennis Basso's 40th anniversary show on Monday. This Fashion Week appearance comes after Johnson walked last year for Sergio Hudson and Bibhu Mohapatra's 2022 shows.

On Monday, the trailblazer graced Basso's carpet runway in an opulent gold dress from the designer. The ankle-skimming look featured large flowy ruffled sleeves and a trailing cloak that soared around her while she walked. She paired it with gold open-toed shoes, a larger-than-life golden bow choker and pearl earrings that dangled dramatically as she walked.

Once she completed her walk, Basso himself accompanied her down the runway in a chic black suit with a polka dot tie. The two linked arms and graced the catwalk with infectious smiles, walking past a front row that included Real Housewives of New York star Luann de Lesseps, "Foodgod" Jonathan Cheban and Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell.

Beverly Johnson
Arturo Holmes/Getty

Johnson also shared a number of Instagram photos and videos of her turn on the runway, starting with a collection of backstage grabs with Basso himself. She noted that they were there to celebrate 40 "glorious years" with the brand, while Basso and his team helped prep her for her runway trip.

She also shared a video taken from the audience at the moment her foot hit the runway — and nearly every phone in the room shoots straight up in the air to catch this memorable moment. She also thanked Basso for inviting her to close the show, noting what an honor it was.

This appearance was the second Fashion Week Johnson walked after decades of exclusively working on editorial and commercial projects. To prepare last year, the star enlisted the help of pro catwalk coach Miss J Alexander, who gave her a masterclass in the art of walking and left her confident enough to use what she learned a whole year later.

After their 2022 coaching session, Alexander left her with "tips for walking gracefully with rhythm on the runway." The coach, who Johnson described as a "master," trained her in "three hours" practicing in "in really high heels with music," the star explained in a conversation with PEOPLE.

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Beverly Johnson
Arturo Holmes/Getty

Johnson explained what the coaching process was like, saying, "He walks with you. He makes you watch him. And it's beautiful to see up close what the process really looks like."

She also explained that it didn't come to her right away. "What I found difficult was that you have to lean back from your top half. I said, 'Lean back? It's so hard to walk in that position.' But that's key. And I was just determined to get it," she shared.

Since reviving her runway career, which had only consisted of "a few shows with Calvin Klein and those special clients" prior to these appearances, Johnson has been receiving her flowers from a younger generation of models she helped pave the way for.

"They must have gave the girls a lesson," she told PEOPLE of being backstage with young models who praised her work. "They were all like, 'Oh, Ms. Johnson, we're so happy you paved the way for us.' I was almost in tears. They were so honest and genuine. And tall! There was not a girl under six feet!"

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