Top Black (Caribbean Heritage) Fashion Models


Recently, I came across several articles on how European fashion magazines and designers were featuring many more black models in the past few years, including a photo essay on The Top Black Models in Fashion, and I was surprised to see that about half of them could claim Caribbean roots. Of course, the leading three on the list were Iman, Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks, because they paved the way for “ethnic” models. Here are 10 who claim Caribbean heritage:

Selita Ebanks (Cayman-born, with a Jamaican father and Caymanian mother) Discovered at 17, in 2005, Selita was officially welcomed into the Victoria’s Secret Angels family. Exploring other ventures, she was recently spotted as the lady love in Kanye West’s “Runaway” music video. The curvacious Ebanks is a runway favorite with her million-dollar smile and feel-good mantra: “Just love what you’ve got and go out there and be yourself.”

Jourdan Dunn (UK; Jamaican parents): In 2006, this British beauty was spotted shopping at English budget store, Primark and the rest is fashion history. Jourdan Dunn has been hailed by British Vogue as a “new star” and has been featured on the covers of Vogue and Elle. She has walked the runways for brands such as Rodarte, Alexander McQueen, Matthew Williamson, Chanel, Christian Dior and Oscar de la Renta—just to name a few. Did we mention she’s accomplished all of this before the age of 20?

Sessilee Lopez (Dominican and Portuguese background):  Lopez has stormed the runways of designers like Zac Posen, Emporio Armani, Karl Lagerfeld and Vivienne Westwood. The American beauty has also appeared in editorials for top magazines such as Vogue, Allure, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar. Sessilee has also walked the runway as a Victoria’s Secret model, making her mark as an international model to be reckoned with.

Melodie Monrose (Martinique): At the age of 18, Monrose was discovered by Your Angels Models in her native Martinique. Soon she began working with Wilhelmina in New York and Silent models in Paris. Debuting during the S/S 2011 collections in New York, Monrose has since walked the runway for top designers. After her first runway season Monrose was named a top 10 new face by,, and COACD. She has appeared in Vogue Italia, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue Turkey, Interview, Dazed and Confused, and V Magazine.

Marihenny Rivera Pasible (Dominican Republic): Hailing from the Dominican Republic, she has already managed to make a strong impact in the modeling industry like other fellow Dominican models like Arlenis Sosa and Rose Cordero, as she has walked for Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent, Prada, opened the Giles Spring/Summer 2012 show and in Nigerian designer Duro Oluwu’s Fall 2011 show.

Joan Smalls (Puerto Rico): Born in Puerto Rico, Joan Smalls signed with Elite Models in 2007 and has quickly emerged as one of the top names in fashion. She has graced the runways of Gucci, Burberry, Prada, YSL and Christian Dior. Joan has worked with top photographers such as Mario Testino, David Sims, Steven Meisel and Patrick Demarchelier. With her statuesque figure and sharp features, Joan is proving to be the top model to watch in the fashion world.

arlenis.FwlArlenis Sosa (Dominican Republic): Dominican bombshell Arlenis Sosa has graced the pages of Vogue, Time and Harper’s Bazaar. She has walked for shows such as Oscar de la Renta, Bottega Veneta, Badgley Mischka, Carolina Herrera and Michael Kors. In 2011, Arlenis was signed as one of the faces for beauty powerhouse Lancome.

Jasmine Tookes (US; she describes herself as Black, White, Brazilian, and West Indian): She did gymnastics for ten years and was also active in volleyball and softball before she became a model at about the age of 15, when Bruce Weber photographed Tookes for Abercrombie & Fitch. Her first commercial ad campaigns were in 2010 for Ugg boots and Gap. French Vogue named her as one of its 10 New faces from fall/winter 2012-2013 Fashion Week. Her runway experience includes Calvin Klein, Tom Ford, Prada, Miu Miu and Versace.

“Cassie” Ventura (whose mother is African-American, Mexican, and West Indian): Wide-eyed beauty Cassie started modeling at the age of 14 and has appeared in ad campaigns for teen magazines such as Seventeen. This model turn R&B singer is best known for her single “Me & U.” She has appeared in music videos for artists such as Wiz Khalifa, Kanye West and Chris Brown.

Jeneil Williams (Jamaica): Jeneil Williams kicked off her modeling career in 2005, when she won the Caribbean Modeling Search. She has appeared in Vogue, Vogue Germany, Elle, W-Magazine, and she has modeled fashion by Kenzo, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Jimmy Choo, Edun, Fendi, Vivienne Westwood, and Louis Vuitton, among others.

Shown above: Jourdan Dunn; on left: Arlenis Sosa.

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