Barbara B Smith, groundbreaking model and lifestyle guru, dies aged 70 | US news | The Guardian
Author and entrepreneur, who had early onset Alzheimer’s, founded eponymous Manhattan restaurant which achieved society success.

B Smith at her restaurant in New York City in 2012. Photograph: Wendell Teodoro/WireImage

The groundbreaking model, restaurateur and lifestyle guru Barbara B Smith, known to many as “the black Martha Stewart”, has died, her family announced on Sunday. She was 70.

Smith died on Saturday evening after suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s disease, which she was found to have in 2013. Following her diagnosis, Smith and her husband, Dan Gasby, raised awareness of the disease and particularly its impacts on the African American community.

“Heaven is shining even brighter now that it is graced with B’s dazzling and unforgettable smile,“ Gasby said in a lengthy Facebook post.

Smith’s eponymous Manhattan restaurant opened in 1986 and attracted a following among affluent black New Yorkers, the New York Times recalled. Essence magazine described it as the place “where the who’s who of black Manhattan meet, greet and eat regularly”.

She wrote three cookbooks, founded three successful restaurants and launched a nationally syndicated TV show and magazine. Her successful home products line was the first from a black woman to be sold at a nationwide US retailer.

In 1976, she became the second black model to be on the cover of Mademoiselle magazine, after Joli Jones in 1969.

Some described Smith as a “black Martha Stewart” a comparison she said she didn’t mind though she believed the two lifestyle mavens were quite different.

“Martha Stewart has presented herself doing the things domestics and African Americans have done for years,” she said in a 1997 interview with New York magazine. “We were always expected to redo the chairs and use everything in the garden. This is the legacy that I was left. Martha just got there first.”

In the same interview, Gasby said: “Martha is perfection and Barbara is passion.”
Barbara B Smith, groundbreaking model and lifestyle guru, dies aged 70 | US news | The Guardian

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