The Jamaica Observer’s Entertainment Desk continues with the 52nd of its biweekly feature looking at seminal moments that have helped shape Jamaica over the past 60 years.
JAMAICA has always punched above its weight class in the arenas of music and sports. In the competitive world of haute couture, the name Kingsley Cooper is firmly stitched.
Along with fellow attorney Hilary Phillips, he formed Pulse modelling agency in 1980. The company became a nursery for top agencies such as Ford and Wilhelmina, and opened the door for Jamaican models including trailblazers Lois Samuels, Nadine Willis, and Althea Laing.
Laing is the first Jamaican model to grace the cover of Essence magazine, which she did it twice. She came to prominence in 1985 when she won the Miss Jamaica Fashion Model title organised 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 glossy magazines in Paris, Milan, as well as New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. Her meteoric rise made her the face of Gucci's fall/winter campaign the following year.
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 the United States, 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," Cooper said in a 2012 interview with the Jamaica Observer.
Cooper relinquished the post of Pulse CEO to his daughter Safia in 2016 but remains as chairman. He is currently pursuing real estate projects and in August broke ground for a 70-unit lifestyle village at Villa Ronai in Stony Hill, St Andrew.