Jamaica’s Gleaner profiles supermodel, designer and photographer Lois Samuels to mark the publication of her book of photographs, Jamaica through My Eyes.
Supermodel Lois Samuels was a shy 14-year-old when Pulse Chairman Kingsley Cooper visited Hampton School in the company’s first model search in the late 1980s. Another star, Kimberley Mais, had made a big breakthrough for Caribbean modelling when she was selected in Japan for a Kirin beer campaign, becoming the first Jamaican model to be selected for an international promotion for a major brand. Her success then, followed by quick inroads into the Paris market, made Mais an inspiration for young Jamaicans. This was the catalyst that launched Pulse’s Model Search and Lois was an early ‘find’.
Samuels was a Hampton student, a young starry-eyed native of St Elizabeth and the child of a schoolteacher mother. She was struck by the prospects of international modelling. After her discovery by Pulse, Lois completed high school and despite a tough time getting an international agency, during visits to London, Paris and New York, she would later succeed as a model. Lois was eventually signed to Beth-Ann Models on a “go see” to New York City in 1992 after Pulse was able to convince the agent of the young model’s special potential. After a slow start to her international career, Lois’ big break came with her selection for the iconic Calvin Klein CK1 campaign, one that introduced the waiflike, grunge ‘look’ to the world. Her face was everywhere: on buses, subway displays, department stores and all the major fashion magazines around the world.
Samuels subsequently became the first Caribbean model to make the cover of Vogue. Today, she continues to be one of the most enduring models of all time, featured as recently as this year in campaigns for important brands.
Equally important, Lois has established her widely acclaimed fashion line The Vessell, first shown at Caribbean Fashionweek four years ago. The Vessell is now a New York Fashion Week staple and was presented as a special guest collection at Arise Fashion Week in Lagos this March.
Lois, a photographer, actor and author, has published a photo book Jamaica Through My Eyes. The book showcases Lois’ skills behind the camera as she documents the beauty and soul of the Jamaican people. She has starred in a short film and also published the outstanding motivational book A Glow in The Dark.
Looking back at her career, Lois told Cooper at the launch of A Glow in The Dark: “I will never forget the day you came to Hampton and chose me. It changed my life forever.”
Hers was indeed a stellar career. Apart from its longevity, its highlights are both several and momentous. After CK1, Lois became fashion’s new ‘it’ girl.
Her stature in the industry continued to grow, as she dominated multiple editorials and covers for leading fashion magazines. Her Vogue success paved the way for other stars to emerge from Jamaica, particularly when the world’s fashion capitals began embracing dark-skinned models alongside their predominantly Eurocentric choices. Lois was often compared to model/actress Grace Jones.
Samuels was the first Caribbean model to be selected for the couture collections in Paris. In February 1995, Britain’s Cosmopolitan magazine heralded Lois as one of the top-six new supermodels in the world. Lois also worked with leading designers, including Ralph Lauren, Jacobs, Miyake, Galliano, Dior and others. She appeared in the first-ever VH1 Supermodel Awards and was a fixture on the main collections of Paris, New York, Milan, London and Tokyo. Her covers include German Vogue, Essence and Pride, and numerous appearances in Mademoiselle, Elle, Marie Claire and The New York Times Fashion Magazine.
Her Vogue success paved the way for other stars.
For the original report go to http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120923/out/out1.html