The Times cover was widely regarded as the first by a major American fashion magazine with a racially mixed readership to feature a black model.
Ms. Sims had been a 19-year-old student at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan when she cold-called Mr. Peterson at his Upper East Side studio. That he immediately agreed to photograph her was typical of his contrarian approach to his work.
He often recruited models to pose in natural light and in prosaic settings, sometimes even precariously on bicycles or roller skates.
A Swedish-born illustrator-turned-photographer, Mr. Peterson frequently juxtaposed high fashion with the low public profiles of the lesser-known models he selected himself. His method was often to incorporate multiple images in compositions that sought to capture not just outer garments but also…