Noelie de Souza Machado known as China Machado was born December 25, 1929 in Shanghai. She was the first non-Caucasian model to grace the cover of Harper’s Bazaar in 1959. Ms Machado was of Portuguese, Indian and Chinese heritage. Her family fled Hong Kong after Japanese occupation during World War II in 1946.
She was a runway model for Christian Dior, Balenciaga and Hubert de Givenchy in Paris which led to modelling for Oleg Cassini in New York. She worked with Givenchy for 3 years and was the highest paid runway model. Diana Vreeland had then brought her to legendary fashion photographer Richard Avedon. Mr Avedon had to challenge publisher Robert F MacLeod by threatening to not renew his contract with Harper’s, as he proved to be reluctant to publish a cover with a woman of colour. The 1959 cover of Harper’s is still disputed as to whether it actually was Ms Machado or another model. She became Harper’s Bazaar’s Senior Fashion Editor and then Fashion Director. She opened the door for models such as Beverly Johnson & Iman, as well as Naomi Campbell.
The New York Times reported that 2016 was a year of record change with a 6.2 % increase since 2015, of women of colour on magazine covers.
Ms Machado is survived by her husband Riccardo Rosa and two daughters from a prior marriage to actor Martin LaSalle. Ms Machado from cardiac arrest at Stony Brook University Hospital in Brookhaven, Long Island on December 18, 2016.