CATHEE DAHMEN

by Susie Fedorko

Catherine Veronica Dahmen - Catherine is a very poignant fashion model to anyone interested in 1960s fashion. She could be seen gracing the pages of essential fashion periodicals such as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, and Elle. Catherine Dahmen was a extremely successful model not only in the United States, but around the world.

Catherine offered a wide range of craft that included modeling for inexpensive retail brands as well as the latest haute couture collections. Known for her signature distinction eye makeup and long, sleek figure. Catherine Dahmen embodied the ideal 1960s look. She began modeling as early as 1967.

Catherine was born on September 16, 1945 in Onamia, Minnesota. Her exotic features rich with her dark Native American Chippewa and Ojibwa ancestry. Catherine would refer to herself as "Cathee" in the press. Family issues prompted her to move to Rhode Island while she was still in high school. She could escape the pain and leave Minnesota behind and finish out her high school years at Hope High in Providence Rhode Island. Cathee lived with her Aunt and Uncle and their son. Her Aunt/Uncle were well know Artists, and she helped with their son Briand every chance she could. Her uncle was famed Native American artist George Morrison.

Cathee happened to be in the right place at the right time and was discovered by New York Times illustrator Antonio Lopez in 1966. She was one of the original "Antonio’s Girls". Cathee’s large, dark brown eyes, dark curly hair and olive skin she was able to pass off being the sister to Anotnio. This was their little Industry secret. Antonio was sketching her as early as 1966, and by 1967 and she was then signed to the rather exclusive Ford modeling agency, finishing out her career with the Europe's leading Models 1 Agency. She began to appear regularly in major fashion magazines, especially Harper’s Bazaar.

Cathee was then featured in French Elle by mid 1967. She modeled clothes by many fashion designers such as Balenciaga, Dior, and Cardin, she had clearly begun to establish herself as a capable high-end fashion model, especially in France. However, she also appears modeling in advertisements for distinctly inexpensive ready to wear brands too. This mix of high and low-end fashion was a distinct feature of the era, as cheap, disposable clothing became nearly as important as designer pieces with much higher price tags. Cathee was always ready to model either range of fashion -from juniors to misses, she was very flexible. Some say that she had a way of seeing herself through the photographers lens. She was able to capture a pose with little effort, almost reading the mind of each Photographer she worked with. She was very well respected in her Industry.

Cathee often applied her own makeup, which she obtained her signature wide-eyed look, with her long, and spiky eyelashes. Cathee's look stood out. It was clear that she was not just a face, but also a name. She was also capable of morphing into the photographers ethnicity group. Appearing to be Asian, Italian or Hispanic with little difficulty.

With Cathee’s arrival in London came a new look in fashion, especially in makeup. Cathee easily adapted to the new look of cosmetics, and her unusual features seem appreciated and enhanced more than ever as she is featured in British fashion magazines. Her overall look has changed very little, but her exotic qualities – namely those features that can perhaps be attributed to her Native American heritage – are more clearly emphasized. These initial editorials must have proven quite successful, as Cathee appears as often, if not more often, as she once did in Harper’s Bazaar. This overwhelming success in England lasted well into mid-decade, at which point Cathee moved back to New York. Although her tremendous popularity was beginning to falter slightly by the mid-1970s, Cathee continued to model, especially in Japanese publications, where she remained quite a regular on covers and in editorials. Although her hair and makeup had changed rather drastically, it is clear that her wide-eyed, youthful beauty had still not left her. Despite this, Cathee finally retired in 1980 at the age of thirty-four - making her career span an impressive thirteen years.

Cathee was married twice and has four children. In 1996 Catherine H. Dahmen moved back to Minnesota, she passed away on November 25th 1997 at the age of 52 of COPD. She leaves behind many fans of her accomplished career, fans that instantly recognize her image’s, but may not always remember her name. Cathee could be considered the first Native American Supermodel.
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