The leading Jamaican newspaper, the Jamaica Gleaner (of which I have fond memories, my mum used to order her copy from the local newsagents every week… back in the day!) announced earlier this week that four of the island’s most well-known women have been selected to be L’Oréal ambassadors in Jamaica.
The four women include:
Former beauty queens Joan McDonald and Sara Lawrence.
Joan McDonald is widely known as the first Miss Jamaica World, having won the inaugural beauty pageant in 1978. She represented Jamaica at the Miss World contest in the United Kingdom.
She has also served her country as a cultural ambassador in Europe and in the United States of America.
McDonald has distinguished herself in public service by working with many community groups and non-governmental organisations. She has been a branch director at the Jamaica Red Cross and was a director and public-relations officer of the Lay Magistrates Association of Jamaica and a trained facilitator for Restorative and Community Justice Practices. She is still deeply involved in the beauty pageant that launched her career and has been a grooming consultant for Miss Jamaica World Pageants and Miss Festival Queen competition.
Sara Lawrence was the representative for Jamaica in the Miss World 2006 beauty
pageant. In March 2007, she relinquished the Miss Jamaica World title upon announcing her pregnancy, becoming the first winner in the Jamaican contest’s 23-year-history to do so. (Source: Wikipeadia)
Lawrence was born in Kingston, she went on to graduate from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia, where she majored in biology with an emphasis on pre-medicine.
After winning the Jamaican title in August 2006, Lawrence placed in the first six at the Miss World competition held in Warsaw, Poland, where she was also named Miss World Caribbean.
Upon relinquishing her crown in March 2007, Lawrence said in a statement that she had “taken a deeply personal decision to face up to my responsibilities as one who expects to become a mother later this year. I believe with all that is within me that it is my moral obligation to do what I believe to be ethically correct and follow what I believe in my heart to be right.”
Lawrence, however, received overwhelming support from the Jamaican public for her decision to have her baby. She received the backing of the Miss World Organisation and was allowed to retain both her crowns for the full duration of the reign. I am pleased that she is to be one of the faces of the new campaign…beauty isn’t perfect, we all have had challenges that we have had to overcome in life and we all deserve a second chance from time to time!
The other two women are economic consultant Paulette Mitchell and student Kacis Fennell. I couldn’t find out much information about these two women – but I am sure we will get to know them better as the campaigns unfold.
The announcement was made at a glittering event called ‘L’Oréal Live: Bringing Beauty to Life’ and was hosted by the Pioneer Manufacturing Distribution Company Limited (PMD) – the local distributor of both the L’Oréal and Garnier brand of products . (Source: The Jamaica Gleaner).
In presenting the concept behind the L’Oréal Ambassadors programme in Jamaica, director of PMD, Winston Barrett, said “PMD was seeking to emulate one of the most innovative programmes adopted by the international beauty-care manufacturer. The Jamaican L’Oréal ambassadors will be the faces of the brands both locally and in the rest of the Caribbean”. This marketing strategy, often dubbed ‘Glocalisation’ is a key tenant of the make up giant’s plans for future growth.
Glocalisation serves as a means of combining the idea of globalisation with that of local considerations. In a recent interview with Beauty Inc (part of wwd.com), the CEO of L’Oréal, Jean-Paul Agon, stated that this “new concept” essentially moves “beyond globalisation” and forms an essential part of the firm’s efforts to add 1bn people to its customer base.
“In order to conquer and loyalise these consumers around the world, the idea is to build from the brands that we have,” he said.
“The second step is to make sure that these brands, in every part of the world, have ranges of products that are completely specifically designed, formulated and adapted to the needs and demands of the local consumers. The L’Oréal Paris brand is the same brand in China that it is in the USA or in Europe, but the products are different.”
Agon also argued that such an approach could come to define the next ten years, when 2bn people globally will enter the middle class for the first time.
Agon is building upon the transformation the business underwent when former CEO Lindsay Owen-Jones was at the helm. He led the Parisian company for 20 years (and guess what..he is from Wales!!)
I remember reading about Owen-Jones in Time Magazine back in 2004 (yes, I have been on this beauty thing for a LONG time…), where he was named as one of the 100 most influential people on the face of the planet. He was being recognised for his ambition and success in creating a truly global beauty business that set out to meet the needs of women from across the globe. L’Oréal purchased the hair care brands Soft-Sheen and Carson in 1998 and 2000 respectively and merged the two brands to create the Soft-Sheen-Carson division we know today (brands such as Dark & Lovely belong to the division…but you all knew that right!!)
In 2003 the L’Oréal Institute for Ethnic Hair & Skin Research, a R&D research laboratory that was dedicated to understanding more about Black, Asian and Hispanic hair and skin was also unveiled ….although it now seems like the facility is no longer functioning…I scoured the L’Oreal website for more information…but to no avail. 😦
Despite this, I am really excited that these beautiful Jamaican women will be joining L’Oréal’s diverse global spokespersons such as veterans Beyoncé, Frieda Pinto, Kerry Washington and the latest women of colour to join the roster, Ethiopian born model Liya Kebede.
I will most definitely be keeping my eye out for the initial campaigns!
2012 is a big year for the Caribbean; both Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago celebrate 50 years of independence, the fastest man on the face of the planet – a proud Jamaican – is set to take centre stage at the London Olympics and the crème de la crème of the Caribbean Fashion and Creative industries showed at London Fashion Week for the very first time – as part of the British Fashion Council’s inaugural International Fashion Showcase.
The event was established to mark the Olympics and ‘honour the Olympic values of international respect, excellence, equality and friendship’. The Caribbean Collections debuted at the start of LFW on the 17th and 18th of February and is supported by the Caribbean Export Development Agency, the Caribbean Fashion Industry Association and JAMPRO – Jamaica Promotions Corporation.
I was ecstatic when I heard about the showcase, as a proud Briton of Jamaican heritage, it was marvellous to hear that a side of the Caribbean – the creative, industrious side, which is so often overlooked by the mainstream media – would be showcased for all to see.
Caribbean fashion is a well established industry, with Caribbean Fashion Week celebrating its 11th anniversary last year. The industry leaders are now looking to export markets for the next phase of growth.
The Chairman of the Caribbean Fashion Industry Association, Kingsley Cooper states that “..the exhibition is really about showing the fashion industry that we have design talent to compete in a global arena. The contribution which the islands can make to fashion has gone under the world’s fashion radar for too long. We are delighted to be a part of London Fashion Week and as organisers of Caribbean Fashion week, we see this as a big step for Caribbean fashion, as we continue to develop our industry and position our designers to take their place on the world stage – our time is now”.
I visited the showcase on the Friday, which was hosted in the Charing Cross Hotel and was awed by the extensive range of designs, styles and themes that were on display.
The exhibition featured designers handpicked from fifteen islands across the Caribbean and creations inspired by the cultural melting pot that the Caribbean represents – African, Spanish, French and British influences were evident in the pieces on display.
Haitian born Phelicia Dell, creator of VèVè Collections was showcasing her line of handcrafted bags, inspired by the distinctive style of her home nation.
Dell was once a struggling artisan, who began to build her empire by giving away samples of her work for free. This foresight and sacrifice paid off, for in 2008, she had the opportunity to enter Diane von Furstenberg’s ‘Global Handbag Design Competition’. The DVF competition solicited designs from women artisans in Haiti, Guatemala, Nigeria and Cambodia. Phelicia won the competition and in 2009, Diane von Furstenberg featured her winning handbags online and in DVF stores around the globe, to mark International Women’s Day.
Sandra Kennedy’s (Jamaica), Beach Collection represents the definitive resort lifestyle. Hand crafted in 100% West Indian Sea Island Cotton – the rarest, silkiest and strongest cotton in the world – the Montego Bay based designer pays homage to her mother for her career in fashion and design. Her mother began working in fashion here in the UK for none other than Marks and Spencer. She then returned to Jamaica and passed on her love for sewing to her daughter.
Kennedy is inspired by her home in every sense and the indigenous and unique hand crafted detail is incorporated into her collection.
Sandra Kennedy Collection, Half Moon PO Box 2450, Rose Hall, Montego Bay, Jamaica WI
I also caught up with Kevin Ayoung-Julien (Tobago) of kaj Designs and Arlene Martin (Jamaica) of drennaLUNA.
Kevin launched his brand in 2005, as a boutique operation producing custom-made, one-of-a-kind pieces.
In 2009 he debuted his inaugural resort collection, Shore Culture. Ribbons of ombrè and tie-dyed chiffons, silk rayons, satins and organza are constructed to flatter the female form and highlight her sensual silhouette.
A self-taught designer, Kevin is not defined by convention and likes to be guided by his
intuition and a creative openness. I found this to be evident in his creations and I too am also a big believer in following your heart as you pursue your endeavours. His partnership with Liza Miller (General Manager of kaj Designs), a leading marketing consultant and publicist in the Caribbean, has created a powerful collaborative force combining the creative and the strategic, which will undoubtedly set the company up for future success.
Arlene Martin of drennaLUNA debuted her recent collection – The Collection 1975 which is a breath of nostalgia of the fun, funk and fashion frenzy that was the 1970s , and would not look out of place in a swanky bar or classy cocktail party right here in London.
Arlene has had a passion for design and sewing from as far back as she can remember, and she warmly recounted to me the memory of being given her first sewing machine at the age of 12 years old. With skills that have largely been self- taught, she actively took up the craft as a hobby in her late teens and over the years, her eye for detail mushroomed into something extraordinary.
Although passionate about fashion she was encouraged by her father to continue with her academic studies and she is now a MBA graduate and a practicing business consultant who has worked on varied national and international projects, proving that one’s creativity does not have to be stifled as one develops a more traditional career path and that following your dreams should always remains a priority.
She describes her design aesthetic as ‘simple yet sophisticated’ and the drenna LUNA woman as ‘confident and bold’ – who wouldn’t want to fit that description!!
Caribbean Fashion Week 2012 will be held between the 7th and the 11th of June, in Kingston Jamaica and the Caribbean Collections are set to return to London for the SS13 London Fashion Week in September – so with a few gold medals in the bag (hopefully!) – there is a lot to look forward to and to celebrate from the beautiful islands of the Caribbean!