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KINGSLEY COOPER: KEEPING HIS FINGERS ON THE PULSE OF FASHION IN JAMAICA!

By Brian Bonitto
Associate Editor —
Auto & Entertainment

 

Ordinarily, Jamaica is synonymous with sports and music. But Kingsley Cooper managed to carve out a niche in the highly competitive arena of haute couture.

He, along with Hilary Phillips, formed Pulse modeling agency in 1980. The company grew to become a nursery for top model agencies as Ford and Wilhelmina, and opened the door for top-tier Jamaican models including Lois Samuels, Nadine Willis, and Althea Laing.

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Both Cooper and Phillips are attorneys-at-law.

Laing, Samuels, and Willis are trailblazers in their own right.

Laing is the first Black model to grace the cover of Essence magazine. And she did it twice. She came prominence in 1985 when she challenged stereotypes by winning the Miss Jamaica Fashion Model title organized by Pulse.

Samuels is a double Vogue cover girl.

Willis, a former exotic dancer, who entered Pulse’s annual model search in 2002, was a rare find. She appeared in major glossies in Paris, Milan, as well as New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. Her meteoric rise would see her being selected as the face of Gucci’s fall/winter campaign the following year.

Willis is listed in the history book of modeling for making the fastest climb in the industry.

In a bid to showcase regional and local designers, Cooper launched Caribbean Fashion week in 2001. Since its inception, the event has showcased more than 150 designers from countries including United States, the United Kingdom, Trinidad and Tobago, and Haiti.

“Our focus is preparing the designers in areas such as business generation and offer them the exposure to take them to the next level,” he said in a 2012 interview with Jamaica Observer.

Trinidadian-born Meiling, Tiger Lilly and Biggie are regularly rostered for the show. At its last staging in June, British-Ghanian rapper FUSE ODG introduced his line NANA (New African Nation).

Cooper relinquished the post of CEO to his daughter Safia last year. He, however, remains as chairman.

 

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