Lifestyles

The Reinvention of Jaunel McKenzie

Sunday, September 30, 2012    

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The Caribbean's most successful model, Pulse star and former world No1 black model Jaunel McKenzie, is at it again. This time, she is featured in extensive editorials for Marie Claire, Glamour and Elle, all on news-stands now.

McKenzie, who won Pulse's Caribbean Model Search in 2002, was signed to the Women Agency in Paris by Pulse head Kingsley Cooper in 2003. This, on the strength of digitals he took of the then 16-year-old model in her uniform one afternoon after school. Women had never met her, but on the strength of those simple photos, Women grabbed her. McKenzie flew to Paris on a cold and bleak winter afternoon and the rest, as the cliché goes, is history.

There's nothing clichéd about McKenzie's career, though. A 13 time American Vogue model (American Vogue being one of her firsts for the Caribbean) and a No1 black model on the models.com ranking, McKenzie reached a top ranking in the high teens among all models in the world (the highest-ranking ever held by a Caribbean model). McKenzie was featured in almost every edition of Vogue — American, Italian, British, Russian, French, German, and Spanish. McKenzie's client roster covers a virtual who's who of celebrated brands. With her long legs and doll-like features, she conquered the world of international modelling.

McKenzie is the only Caribbean model to be declared one of the most successful black models of all time by Ebony Magazine (2008). In that same year, Vibe magazine named her among the 100 most influential blacks on a list headed by Barack Obama. By then, McKenzie had amassed an impressive portfolio of high-profile editorials and campaigns, maintaining her position as one of international modelling's top professionals. McKenzie's success — coupled with that of Nadine Willis's rapid rise to the heights of world modeling — ignited a powerful movement of Caribbean talent and also drove the ascendancy of black models at the start of the new century. Now McKenzie looks to the future as she reinvents herself yet again, with every intention of being not only one of the best of all time, but also one of the most enduring. Among her favourite model moments were the 'fantastic four' set of magazine features for international fashion standouts French Marie Claire, British Glamour, Red and Cosmo in 2007; her Pirelli calendar at the start of her career; her toptier world ranking; and multiple features as the runway “it” girl on the cover of the Daily Front Row — the official newspaper of New York Fashion Week. These are moments of high visibility and extraordinary quality enjoyed by very few models.

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