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Meet Dream Cazzaniga, Daughter of Donyale Luna: Some Unknown Facts

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  • Post last modified:July 20, 2021
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Dream Cazzaniga is the daughter of the first black supermodel, Donyale Luna. Luna was an American model who gained popularity in Western Europe. Cazzaniga’s mother, Luna was the first African American model to appear on the cover of the British edition of Vogue. Her mom’s pioneering spirit is often overshadowed by the dark stories about her personal life.

Nonetheless, even over 40 years after her death, she is continuously survived and made ever so popular by her revolutionary aspirations. And oftentimes by her daughter Dream Cazzaniga and husband, Luigi Cazzaniga.

So how did her folks fell in love? Did Dream get to spend time with her pioneer mother? And is she continuing her legacy? Know all these along with some untold tragic truths down in the article below.

Dream Cazzaniga’s Early Life

Peggy’s daughter was born in 1977 in Tuscan, Arizona. Back in April 2019 with Vogue, Dream recalled her mother, Luna giving birth to her in the autumn of 1977. Additionally, she also described the then-Tuscan countryside as being wild and enchanting.

At the time of the interview, she was living in Paris with a young family of her own. Donyale’s daughter had remained a close book up until that encounter with the magazine.

She said, despite only a few blurred memories of her mother, she believes her presence is more strongly with her every day.

Dream’s Ethnicity

Cazzaniga’s maternal grandparents had moved to Detroit from Georgia as part of the Great Migration. Her grandfather from her mother’s side worked in production at the Ford plant. He was of African-American and South American (Quechuan) heritage. She has both African-American and European heritage from Luna’s mother.

The grans of  Dream lived a “financially stable upbringing in a middle-class neighborhood of Detroit” on Scotten Avenue. As a child, her mother would frequently go on trips to local cinemas with her father and in summer to swim at the “Kronk Gym” in Detroit.

Her Parents’ Relationship

Luna had just ended her relationship with German actor, Klaus Kinski and moved to Italy to continue her acting career. It was when she had first met Dream’s father, Luigi Cazzaniga at a fashion show in Rome. Luigi was then an up-and-coming photographer.

Dream Cazzaniga's mother, Donyale Luna
Dream Cazzaniga’s mother, Donyale Luna married Luigi Cazzaniga in 1976. Source: Vogue/Getty

She was at the time rumored to be dating the Dominican actor, Juan Fernandez. However, it was Cazzaniga with whom she exchanged her vows in 1976. For the first two months of their relationship, Dream’s parents couldn’t understand each other due to the language barrier. Two years after the wedding, they welcomed their daughter, Dream. Her name took inspiration from Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.

Dream Cazzaniga Lost Her Mother When She Was Just 18 Months Old 

One year and six months after Dream was born, Luna lost her life to a drug overdose on May 17, 1979, aged 33. This led her to be raised by her father Juan and his family in Europe. Cazzaniga says she never fully appreciated the cultural legacy that she inherited from her Italian father.

Dream Cazzaniga lost her mother Donyale Luna when she was just 18 months
Dream Cazzaniga lost her mother Donyale Luna when she was just 18 months. Source: Getty

She also admits she was quite oblivious to her mother throughout her young age. In fact, Dream had only begun to start looking deeper and ask more questions about Luna’s life in her early twenties.

With Vogue, Peggy’s daughter explained she finds it difficult to process whenever she reads about her mother’s legacy against her personal struggles. Also, she has often wondered how to keep her mommy’s memories among the people in the way she deserved.

Her Mother’s Journey To Modeling Proved To Be A Revolutionary Act

Dream recalled her mother was randomly asked by a stranger if she was interested in modeling. At the time, there existed virtually no such opportunities for non-white faces anywhere other than dedicated African American publications such as Ebony.

She says her mother’s belief in her worth and following her true calling was no less than a revolutionary act. Dream reasons Luna being on the front line of the Swinging ’60s was one of the contributing factors to the world’s cultural revolution. Subsequently becoming a symbol of the African American resistance.

Dream’s Mother Became The First African American Model To Appear On Vogue Cover

Luna’s real break came just after she arrived in the UK. In March of 1966, she became the first model of color to headline the cover of Vogue in a shoot with David Bailey. She had worn a Chloe dress and gold Mimi de N earnings. Only a single heavily lined eye is visible through her fingers, which formed a V for Vogue. Inside the magazine, Dream’s mother is on display in all her glory.

Donyale Luna was the first African American face of Vogue
Donyale Luna was the first African American face of Vogue. Source: Vogue/Getty

She posed alongside fellow models Moyra Swan and Peggy Moffitt. Thereafter, she became an international celebrity. Many consider Luna’s 1966 Vogue cover as a pivotal point. Ultimately, it became the sole inspiration for new Black models. In turn, the act led to the normalization of African-American and African-Europeans on magazines that previously catered to majority-white demographics.

Her Mother Appeared In Several Films 

Between the late 1960s and early 1970s, Cazzaniga’s mom made her mark in several Hollywood and European projects. Some of them include the 1972 avant-garde film, Ciao! Manhattan, a documentary of her name, Screen Test: Donyale Luna (1964), Camp (1965), a 33-minute color film, Donyale Luna (1967), Blowup (1966), 1966 French film, Who are you, Polly Magoo?

Dream Cazzaniga's mother appeared in number of films
Dream Cazzaniga’s mother appeared in a number of Italian films. Source: Getty

Luna’s only mainstream Hollywood movie was Otto Preminger’s 1968 comedy, Skiddoo. She also appeared as a background character in a television version of a 1969 Italian film, Dillinger Is Dead. Her other film credits are the 1969 Italian fantasy drama, Fellini Satyricon, 1970 Happening documentary film, Soft Self Portrait of Salvador Dali, and the 1972 Italian drama, Salome.

Luna Continues To Be An Icon; Even For Millenial Celebrities

Decades after her passing, Luna continues to be an exemplary figure for models of different ethnicities. She could easily be someone to look up to – especially for those who feel like they have little to no chance of making it through. And it’s not just the fashion stars. Even Hollywood stars have come to praise her legacy.

In November 2020, the Emmy-winning actress, Zendaya paid tribute to Donyale Luna on the 50th anniversary of Essence.

Zendaya posing as Donyale Luna
Zendaya posing as Donyale Luna. Source: Essence

Honoring black resilience, The Euphoria star stunned several looks inspired by Dream’s mother including a floor-length long sleeve knit dress, a Miu Miu fur coat, a Fancy metal shift dress, and a zebra print frock.

Her Father’s A Celebrated Photographer

Dream’s dad, Luigi Cazzaniga’s long photographic career includes art, fashion, commerce, and politics. Born in Milan Italy, he has lived in New York since 1984. His historical footage of 9/11 featured on CNN, HBO, RAI, and many Televisions Networks around the world.
In addition, the video is a part of a permanent installation at the 9/11 Museum in New York City. As a representative for Italian LA7, he shot footage of American life, from Mormon polygamous families in Utah to New Orleans gun shows, and child beauty pageants in Texas.
One of Luigi’s most recent projects includes an interview with Oliver Stone about his Putin experiences shown on Italy’s RAI 3. From 1986 to 1996 Cazzaniga’s father was art director of Cover Magazine, a downtown New York arts journal.
Luigi Cazzaniga with Donyale Luna
Luigi Cazzaniga with Donyale Luna. Source: Vogue
In the US, he did fashion and portrait photography for W and Women’s Wear Daily, Playboy, the New York Times, Popular Photography, Vogue, and Seventeen magazine. Since 2000 Cazzaniga has been working with Italian Marie Claire for articles and reportages. His job also includes touring through the studios of New York’s most influential artists. From 2002 he has been working for Inter Soccer club directing and spawning different videos and a book.

His Notable Works

His ‘Hyper Abstract’ projections have cruised through the Bronx Museum, the Bowery Poetry Club, La Mama and Howl Gallery, The Shankill Castle, Ireland, the Soncino VI, VII, VIII IX Biennale, Casalmaggiore Contemporanea, and the Stream Gallery in Bushwick NY. Luigi’s artwork was showcased in the Dali Museum in Spain, Galleria dei Serpenti in Rome, No Commission in the Bronx.
Likewise, the other galleries are the Knitting Factory in Manhattan, Hamilton Gallery in London, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boulder Colorado, FNAC Gallery in Genoa, and Gare2 Gallery in Brescia. He has also written two books, “Mondo Inter” and “Group Portraits.”

Where Is Dream Cazzaniga Now?

Donyale’s daughter was last publicly noticed hugging a man at what appeared to be a party. Though, the story behind the image remains a tiresome mystery to date.

On the other hand, some reports suggest Dream currently works at the R&D, Invento Innovation Lab. Her job includes researching in the field of Sustainability (policy, economics, system change, impact assessment, circular economy, human rights). In view of the aforesaid facts, one can imagine she, in time and often, trying her best to contribute to her mother’s legacy. And hopefully, she is getting all the wishes from her mother’s admirers.