Noelie Dasouza Machado (December 25, 1929 – December 18, 2016), known as China Machado, was a Chinese-born Portuguese-American fashion model, editor, and television producer. She was the first non-white person to appear on the cover of a major American fashion magazine, in the February 1959 issue of Harper’s Bazaar.
Noelie Dasouza Machado was born in Shanghai, China to a Portuguese father from Macau and a Chinese mother. Her maternal grandmother was from Goa. Her parents met in Hong Kong. She spent the early portion of her life learning how to cook, sew, knit, and crochet. After World War II, her family traveled to Argentina, Peru. and Spain. At the age of 19, she met the Spanish bullfighter, Luis Miguel Dominguín. When the relationship ended, Machado moved to Paris and found work modelling for Hubert de Givenchy. According to Machado, she was asked to model for Balenciaga, but he was out of town, so they sent her to Givenchy instead. "They thought I was filling-in for a sick girl, so they grabbed me, put me in clothes, and threw me into the room where they were showing the collection. I barely knew anything about walking like a model, so I just copied the girl in front of me. At the end of the show, gorgeous Givenchy comes up to me and says, 'Would you like to be in the cabine?’' — that's what they called the group of models who worked for the house. That’s how it all started."
At this time she changed her first name to China (pronounced CHEE-na). She later worked for Christian Dior and Balenciaga. She worked for Givenchy for three years and during this time, she became the highest-paid runway model in Europe, earning $1,000 a day. In 1957, she married the actor Martin LaSalle, the son of a diplomat, and a student of political science at the Sorbonne, whom she had met in Paris. Nonetheless, for a year during their courtship, she left him for the Oscar-winning actor William Holden, returning to LaSalle to marry him. The couple eventually settled in New York City where Machado met Diana Vreeland and through Vreeland, Richard Avedon, with whom she developed a very close friendship and calls a "great mentor in her life". The couple had two daughters, Blanche and Emmanuelle. They divorced in 1965, after Machado had an affair with a friend of his. Avedon declared that she was “probably the most beautiful woman in the world.”
His photographs of her were the ones used in the February 1959 issue of Harper's Bazaar. "It was 1958, and the publishers were saying, ‘We can't put this girl in the magazine. Everyone in the South will quit subscriptions and no one will want to advertise with us!’ But they were published in February 1959, because — and I only found this out 20 years later—Dick had threatened to quit [his contract] if they didn't use them!" Machado's modeling success opened the door "for generations of models of color, from Iman and Naomi Campbell to Jourdan Dunn and Sessilee Lopez." Machado worked for Avedon exclusively for three years before he got her a job as Harper's Bazaar's Senior Fashion Editor where, eventually, she became the Fashion Director and ventured into other endeavors in publishing, fashion, and television. In 1989, she was added to the International Best Dressed List. Machado died on December 18, 2016, a week before her 87th birthday, at Stony Brook University Hospital from cardiac arrest. She was survived by her two daughters: Blanche and Emmanuelle, from her first marriage, as well as by her second husband, Riccardo Rosa.