PEGGY DILLARD-TOONE is a Force of Nature

PEGGY DILLARD-TOONE is a Force of Nature


A bottomless well of talent and tenacity has nourished her garden of creative expression and entrepreneurial verve season after season throughout her life.  Peggy Dillard was born the 13th child of a large family in Greenville, South Carolina in 1956. Early on she shared a love of art & design with her mother who, among her many talents, was a hat maker, a tailor, had a sewing school and produced art shows. She saw influences all around her and said, “To me, fashion was architectural. Cars were architectural. Music was architectural. Everything had this same structural approach.”

(, 5/11/23)

Peggy explored many creative outlets including music and theatre before earning a full-scholarship from JE Sirrine Architectural Firm in Greenville, South Carolina to attend Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY.  She continued these endeavors while earning her Bachelor of Arts Degree in fashion from Pratt in 1977.  Simultaneously blazing a trail as one of the first 70's/80's super-models, Peggy Dillard became the second Black model on a Vogue magazine cover at the age of 17; her first of three.

Peggy’s 50+ year career has inspired generations of women to embrace their natural selves.  Besides gracing high-fashion editorial covers and runways for top designers, film and commercials, she was a young entrepreneur importing and sourcing cosmetic accessories for top retail chains such as Saks and Macy's.  She then opened Turning Heads Salon and Day Spa in Harlem.  Becoming a leading natural hair advocate, image consultant, creative director, production designer, and consultant evolved into sourcing art for movies and major television networks such as Netflix, HBO, CBS, etc.., as well as independent producers.

Because she’s achieved so many milestones, in our interview I wanted to capture a summation of Mrs. Dillard-Toone’s legacy.  She stated it’s a story of “succession because often times we don’t think of people succeeding from one business to another…” Becoming a world traveler at such a young age and connecting with people along the way really impacted each landmark of her journey.  One such encounter was with Princess Diana who upon seeing how Peggy wore a hat on the catwalk came backstage to meet her personally.  Soon thereafter, she was hired as a guest model to do shows in England for Princess Diana’s children’s charities.  A love for hats is consistent in Dillard-Toone’s life although finding the right fit has always been a challenge. 

“Every time I went to Europe I had them custom made…every year this was my treat to myself…in the spring and the fall.”  About 50 remain in her collection.         

From childhood, Peggy Dillard-Toone has continued to traverse diverse creative disciplines.  Now, through her 501(c)(3) arts foundation called  Blue Leaf International, she supports artists, collectors, internships and collaborations as a type of arts interchange focusing on the cultural legacy of African Americans in the global community at some of  its deepest roots; the arts.

“I’ve always kept my feet on the ground.  I still keep my fingers in the dirt”.    Peggy Dillard-Toone (, 5/11/23)

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