We’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 recognized 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 recognized.
Below is part two of our feature on Jamaica’s top models:
- Jaunel McKenzie – She won the Pulse Caribbean Model Search in 2002 and immediately took the fashion world by storm, booking 36 shows in her first season. McKenzie has graced the pages of Glamour, ELLE, Marie Claire, Essence, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, W, Allure, Arise, French Revue De Modes, Timodelle, SOMA, Vice, Parlour, O magazine, Red and American Vogue, which she has appeared in more than 11 times. The one-time number one black model has done campaigns for Victoria’s Secret, GAP, Lord and Taylor and more, and has walked the runways for Alexander McQueen, Desigual, Michael Kors, Proenza Schouler, Yves Saint Laurent, Phillip Lim, Roberto Cavalli, Badgley Mischka, Oscar de la Renta, Tuleh, and is a favorite of Zac Posen. In 2014, she teamed up with fellow Pulse star Kimanee Wilson to launch FACE Model Development agency.
- Shena Moulton – Moulton won Saint’s Fashion Face of the Caribbean in 2008 at 13 years old. The youngest person ever to win the competition, she was immediately signed to Muse Models from New York. She booked Calvin Klein for International Fashion Week in her first full season and has not looked back. Moulton has walked for prestigious fashion brands like Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Jil Sander, Marc Jacobs, Tadashi, BCBG Max Azria, Diane Von Furstenburg, Izaac Mizrahi, Thakoon, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Klein, for whom she created history as the only black model with more than three consecutive runway show seasons. She has also fronted global campaigns for GAP, Marc Jacobs and Benetton, and appeared in editorials for Italian Vogue, Suggestions, Italian Elle, Teen Vogue, Pop Magazine, French Marie Claire and more.
- Angella Neil – One of the first wave of supermodels to come out of the Caribbean, Neil, who won Pulse’s 1988 Jamaica Fashion Model Pageant, graced the covers of Vogue, Elle and Cosmo. She also did editorials for brands such as Nike, Hanes, Champion and Avon, and walked at London Fashion Week for Betty Jackson, Janice Wainwright, Bruce Oldfield and several others.
- Kai Newman – Newman won Fashion Face of the Caribbean 2013 and went on to immediately mesmerise the fashion world, walking in New York, Milan and Paris for top designers such as Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Tommy Hilfiger, Jil Sander, MiuMiu, Costume Nationale, Hermès, and Gucci, where she was the youngest Jamaica/Caribbean model ever to appear on the runway for the brand. The Saint protégée followed this up by booking 37 shows for the Fall 2014 runway season. She has voted one of the top 10 newcomers of her season by models.com.
- Jeanelle ‘Nell’ Robinson – Robinson won on Pulse’s Jamaican franchise of the Ford Supermodel of the World competition in 2002 and 13 years later, she is still on the go. Her career took off when she landed the cover of Arena magazine where they declared her ‘The Body’ of 2005. Since then, she has featured prominently for swimsuit and lingerie brands, such as Victoria’s Secret, Gossard and Agent Provocateur. Additionally, she has done campaigns for Rimmel, D Squared and Puma, and has appeared in editorials for Cosmopolitan, Italian GQ and Vogue. In 2012, she teamed up with London fashion buyer Ann Marie Clarke to launch a line of edgy, sexy swimwear called Bang!
- Nackeisha Robinson – Once heralded as Naomi Campbell’s protégée by the supermodel herself, and the muse of Julian McDonald – one of the UK’s top designers, Robinson strutted the runways of London, Paris, Milan and New York for designers and brands such as Givenchy, Alexander McQueen, Custo Barcelona, Diane von Furstenberg, Gharani Strok, Guerriero, Heatherette, Jeffrey Chow, Just Cavalli, Kenneth Cole, Milly, Shannon Stokes, Simoneta Ravizza, Tracy Reese and more. The Saint beauty also did campaigns for Dolce and Gabanna and Calvin Klein Fragrance, and graced the cover of STYLE magazine.
- Korey Rowe – Rowe won Saint’s 2011 Fashion Face of The Caribbean competition and was further catapulted into the international spotlight when he starred on America’s Next Top Model, after being cast by the show’s creator and executive producer, international supermodel Tyra Banks. has made international runway appearances for brands such as Telfar, Monsieur Belange, and Tour Designs. His editorial credits include Marquis Look Book, Artzy Magazine, Paper Cut Magazine and GQ.
- Lois Samuels – The first Caribbean model to grace the cover of Vogue, and the first to be selected for the couture collections in Paris, Samuels overcame a slow start to carve out a long-lasting career. Her big break came with the iconic Calvin Klein CK1 campaign, after which she became fashion’s new ‘it’ girl. In February 1995, Britain’s Cosmopolitan heralded the Pulse star as one of the top-six new supermodels in the world. She worked with leading designers like Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, Issey Miyake, Galliano, Dior and others, appeared in the first-ever VH1 Supermodel Awards and was a fixture in the main collections of Paris, New York, Milan, London and Tokyo. Her covers include German Vogue, Essence and Pride, and numerous editorials in Mademoiselle, Elle, Marie Claire and The New York Times Fashion Magazine. Samuels’ Vogue success paved the way for other Jamaican stars, particularly when the world’s fashion capitals began embracing dark-skinned models. She is also a photographer, actor, author and designer – her the Vessel has been featured in magazines as Vogue Italia, The New York Times.com, Clam, Elle and WWD and is also a New York Fashion Week staple.
Nikki Vassell – Spotted by Pulse’s Kingsley Cooper at the movies when she was only 13 years old, Vassell went on to win Pulse Jamaica Fashion Model Competition two years later in 1994, which she won, and became the first model from the region to be signed to an international agency by Pulse, without even leaving Jamaica’s shores. It took her a while to find her feet, but when she did, she was off and running, with spots in Seventeen and Swing magazines, Guess – her first campaign, Kenneth Cole, Ann Taylor, and Pepe Jeans. She followed this up with campaigns for Armani Exchange, Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Kenneth Cole, Polo Jeans, Avon, GAP, Aveda, Pantene shampoo, and Cover Girl cosmetics, as well as editorials in American Cosmopolitian, Honey, O magazine, Glamour, Jane, Italian and German Vogue. She is now a director at Deitch Projects, a New York gallery on the forefront of the art universe.
- Jeneil Williams – A former Vere Technical High School athlete, Williams walked into Pulse headquarters to become a model and soon walked away with the 2005 Caribbean Model Search title. She immediately skyrocketed to superstar status, racking up credits that include covers and editorials in Teen Vogue, I-D, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, W, Russian and Turkish Vogue, French Revue Des Modes, Love, and Italian Vogue – she was the only Caribbean model selected for the magazine’s groundbreaking all-black issue; campaigns for Jawbone, Benetton, Diet Coke, Jean Paul Gaultier, Jimmy Choo, L’Oreal, and more; plus strutting for the likes of Lanvin, Fendi, Reed Krakoff, L’Wren Scott, Diesel, Zero + Maria Cornejo and other designers in the fashion capitals of the world. She was inducted into Pulse’s Hall of Fame in 2013. In 2014, she became the face of Nasty Gal’s first swimwear campaign.
- Nadine Willis – Willis’ story reads like a modern day fairy tale, dubbed ‘Ghetto to Gucci’ in the British press. She initially accompanied a friend to a Pulse model search, but Kingsley Cooper was so impressed by her that he gave her his business card. Fast forward to 2003 and the struggling single mother made her decision and showed up at Pulse. She was soon on a plane to London, where British and French Vogue came a-calling, along with campaigns for Rimmel cosmetics, and, of course, Gucci. She also did campaigns for Kenneth Cole,, Moschino, Jenny Packham, Perry Ellis, Catherine Malandrino, MAC and Jaguar, along with several other high-end fashion brands. Her face was splashed all over the pages of Vogue, including the French, Italian, Japanese, British and Spanish versions, Marie Claire, Pride, Essence, The Face, Tank, Untold, V, Touch, American Glamour, Trace, She Caribbean, Ocean Style and more. Willis is still working today, as a plus sized model.
- Kimanee Wilson – The Westmoreland native wasn’t bit by the fashion bug until she migrated to New York with her mother in 2001. Wilson attended an open call by Elite Model Agency and was soon shooting for a spread in Teen Vogue. She moved on to extensive spreads and covers for Cosmopolitan, Allure, Vibe, British Grazia, L’Officiel, Marie Claire, British Glamour, London Times, New York Times, Essence, Vibe, Taiwan Vogue, Trace, Honey, Numero, Chicago Tribune, Ocean Drive, Oyster, Suede, Seventeen, Jane and Visionaire, as well as campaigns for Target, Levi Jeans and Ralph Lauren, cosmetics deals with Aveda, Avon, Sephora and Clinique (she was dubbed ‘the face’). The Pulse star has also worked with top designers like Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Givenchy, Chloe, Roberto Cavalli, Badgley Mischka, J. Mendel, and Missoni. In 2014, she teamed up with fellow Pulse star Jaunel McKenzie to launch FACE Model Development agency.
- Justine Willoughby – The daughter of a former Jamaican beauty queen, Virginia Lacroix and celebrated media personality, Neville Willoughby, placed second in the Pulse Model Search in 1989 and embarked on a career that took her to Paris, London and even Morocco. She did editorials in magazines like French Marie Claire, Seventeen, and a campaign for John Frieda. In 1995, she became the third woman in her family, after her mom and aunt, to cop the Miss Jamaica Universe title.
- Hector Lincoln Wynter – He began his international career at 16. In those early years, he became the face for a number of international campaigns in Europe. While studying at Florida International University, he also did campaigns for clients such as Macy’s, Sears and Burdines. Upon completing his degree, Wynter returned to Jamaica, where he signed with Pulse and returned to Europe, where his career experienced a resurgence with campaigns for Benneton, Vogue, Lacoste and Gucci. He has also done campaigns for Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, JC Penny, Sears, Coca-Cola, K-Mart, Budweiser, Ralph Lauren, Nike and Microsoft. Wynter has also spread his wings in the acting world with roles in Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Third Watch, Royal Palm Estate, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, Treasure Island and The Devil Wears Prada.
Read part one here.
See the next page for Famous Faces, Jamaican Roots