15 of Jamaica’s Top Models

modelsWe’ve looked at some of the top designers that Jamaica has produced over the years, and now it’s time for the models. The two biggest local agencies in Jamaica and the Caribbean, Pulse Model Management and Saint International, have discovered and launched the careers of a great number of editorial and runway stars since their inception in 1980 and 2000, respectively.

Pulse was founded by Kingsley Cooper and Hilary Phillips. The agency launched Caribbean Fashion Week many years ago, and it has grown into an internationally recognised showcase for established and emerging design talent from the region and it diasporas. Saint was founded by Deiwight Peters. Its showpiece event is Style Week Jamaica, which is also internationally recognised.

Here is part one of our feature on Jamaica’s top models:

  1. Jheanelle Azan – In 1983, Azan placed second in Pulse’s Jamaica Fashion Model Pageant and, along with winner Denise Sloley, was part of the first Jamaican delegation that went to Paris for Pret a Porter and Model Agency ‘go sees.’ The group was led by Pulse’s Hilary Phillips. Azan is perhaps best remembered as the star of Jimmy Cliff’s ‘Reggae Nights’ video and Red Stripe calendars.
  2. Oraine Barrett – Barrett is undoubtedly the most famous homegrown male model the Caribbean has ever produced. After winning Pulse’s Male Face of Jamaica title at Pulse’s Caribbean Model Search in 2004, he was immediately snatched up by the industry’s major players upon his international debut. He modelled for Abercrombie & Fitch, John Bartlett and Pepe Jeans, before going on to become the face of Ralph Lauren. He has appeared on the cover of GQ, and in editorials in i-D, Interview, Vogue Hommes Japan, Arena Homme, Italian Vogue and more.
  3. Sedene Blake – Blake smashed runway records previously set by Pulse colleague Jaunel McKenzie when she scored over 60 shows in her debut season on the global fashion circuit. Vogue declared her among three girls in the world to watch as the collections kicked off in New York back in February 2012. She also shot Vogue within a month of her entry to the international market in New York and appeared on the beauty cover for Italian Vogue.
  4. Carla Campbell – Campbell began modelling in 1997 when she placed in the top eight of Pulse’s Caribbean Model Search. She is known for her curvy figure, which made her a mainstay in the swimwear and lingerie side of the fashion industry. She famously appeared in the 2006 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, the first Jamaican model to achieve this feat and was the second woman from the Caribbean to model for Victoria’s Secret. She also appeared in Maxim, FHM and on the cover of Esquire.
  5. Sigail Currie – Currie made quite a splash during her debut season in 2006 as she was handpicked by Yves Saint Laurent creative director Stefano Pilato to model for the house. Since then, she has walked for Diane von Furstenberg, Tracy Reese, Naeem Khan, Duro Olowu and more, graced the pages of Italian Vogue, Spanish Vogue and the Independent Newspaper‘s Style Feature. She has done campaigns for luxury luggae brand Samsonite and appeared alongside supermodel Kate Moss in the Agent Provocateur lingerie campaign.
  6. Sunna Gottshalk – Another Pulse standout, Gottshalk walked for many high end fashion designers in New York, London, Milan, and Paris fashion weeks; appeared in many high-end fashion magazines worldwide, including Vogue, Elle, Essence, Marie Claire, Allure, Cosmopolitan and Seventeen; and was featured in numerous advertising campaigns and catalogues for brands such as Alexander McQueen, Saks Fifth Avenue, H&M, L’Oreal, Puma, Sephora, Soft Sheen Carson, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Jergens and many more. She also launched her own brand of cosmetics, Sunna Claore.
  7. Nicole ‘Sky’ Grey – A model, singer and actress, Grey earned a top-five place in Pulse’s Caribbean Model Search in 2002, alongside icons Nell Robinson and Jaunel McKenzie. She went on to land a coveted MAC make-up cosmetics campaign and work with a number of top clients and appeared in various fashion editorials, before turning her attention to her other passions – music and film. Her debut single, Lollipop, was released in 2009. She later made waves as Kemala in the award-winning movie Better Mus’ Come (2010), directed by Storm Saulter, and as Trini in Restless City (2011).
  8. Sosheba Griffiths – Griffiths was discovered by Saint’s Dewight Peters in Trench Town in 2005 and took the fashion world by storm. She has appeared in editorials in Vanity FairNylon, Teen Vogue, JalouseTwill and more. She has also walked for top designers like Givenchy, Vivienne Westwood, Jason Wu, Diane von Furstenberg and more, as well as catalogues for Victoria’s Secret, Erin Fetherson and more.
  9. Tafari Hinds – Son of famed roots singer and songwriter Horace Andy, Hinds, out of the Saint camp, became the first black male model to cover GQ STYLE. He was also the first Caribbean male model to appear in British Vogue and has international campaigns for powerful brands such as French Connection UK, Vivienne Westwood and John Richmond, working in London, Milan, Paris, Germany and New York.
  10. Sanya Hughes – Hughes won the Miss Jamaica Universe title in 2002, and although she didn’t win Miss Universe, she utilised her popularity to create a successful international modelling career. The Pulse standout’s resume includes a campaign for Bare Minerals that has featured in Sephora (US), Selfridges in London and other major UK department stores; national ads for Honda, Budweiser and Corona (US), walking in New York Fashion Week and Miami Mercedes Benz Swim Fashion Week and being specially selected for the role of Mermaid in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Starring Johnny Depp.
  11. Canise Jackson – Also known as ‘CJ,’ Jackson was the first black model to grace the cover of a Singapore magazine, Lookbook, in 2003. The Saint star has also covered French Divas magazine, appeared in campaigns for Giorgio Armani, Carven, Gattinoni, Collezioni and more; and has also done editorials for Italian Vogue, Shape Magazine and more. She has also appeared in Bravo’s The Fashion Show.
  12. Althea Laing – Laing is one of the original Jamaican top models, out of the Pulse camp. In the 1980s, the elegant Laing became the first Jamaican to grace the cover of an international publication – Essence. With her inimitable walk, ‘La Laing’ was a staple on the runway for the top designers of the day and graced the pages of fashion magazines all over the world.
  13. Kimberly Mais Issa – Laing was the trailblazer, but Mais became the Caribbean’s first global supermodel, becoming a star in the Asian, US and European markets. She created history in 1987 when she beat out more than 1,000 Japanese and international models to become the face of Japan’s Kirin beer campaign and became such a star in the country that she earned the unprecedented distinction of appearing on the cover of every issue of Vingtaine, its top magazine at the time, for a whole year. In Europe, she appeared on magazine covers, commercials and editorials across the continent, including a spread for French Cosmopolitan. She was even the face of Turkey’s Tourism campaign in 1988. Mais also won the Miss Jamaica Universe pageant in 1991 and placed in the top five. It was 2009 before her achievement was topped by Yendi Phillipps’ second place finish.
  14. Gaye McDonald – McDonald has been hailed as one of the top models in the world by industry bible Red, covered Japan’s Luire, SHE Caribbean and Ocean Style and appeared in editorials for Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Trace and New York Times magazine.The Pulse star  has also featured in campaigns for Benetton, Nordstrom, Deisel, and MAC; and walked in fashion week shows in New York, London and Paris for designers such as Vivienne Westwood, Catherine Malandrino, Stella McCartney, Angel Chang, Heatherette, Tracy Reese, Nicole Ramona, Lanvin, Diane von Furstenberg, Top Shop, and L’wren Scott.
  15. Kibwe McGann – McGann, out of the Saint camp, Foschini, created waves internationally, booking campaigns for Foschini, Woolworth and others. He also appeared in many leading fashion magazines such as GQ and Drum, and has also been booked by Puma for a successful cologne campaign. He was a favourite in the South African market, where he lived for a year. He transitioned into television in 2005, hosting programmes on CVM Television locally and BETJ (now Centric) in the US. He is now one of the minds behind Kingston Bridal Week and Wedding Spectacular.