Along with dreams of representing my country through service, being a fashion model was another big dream of mine and after meeting my fashion model idol, I was intent on being the next Iman. Back story…I had the immense pleasure of meeting Iman when she visited Jamaica, when I was a contestant in the Pulse Fashion Model competition. I always wore bangs as I was teased in school about my ‘buck forehead’ (large forehead) so I would cover it with bangs. She called me up, moved the bangs aside and said, ‘You are beautiful! Do not hide your face.’ Listen…that was it; I stopped wearing bangs that day.
I started doing fashion shows at the Hughenden community center in my neighborhood as well as school, church and after work fashion shows. I loved being on the stage; I could be any character I wanted based on what I was wearing. I get lost in it.
Miguel Models was run by The Music Maestro, Michael Barnett and was one of the first agencies I was signed to. For those who remember the Oceana hotel in downtown Kingston, that was the home of the agency and where most of the shows were held. I got great early experience on the runway, in print, in the ring and my first billboard. Yes I said ‘the ring’. What had happened was…I was a ring girl for the final fight of iconic Jamaican boxer Richard ‘Shrimpy’ Clarke and it is said I distracted him… and that’s why he lost the fight..(covers face)
Miguel Models started the ‘Uptown vs Downtown’ fashion series of shows. Let me explain; dancehall fashion was becoming prominent in our dances and parties in the 90’s. Earl ‘Biggie’ Turner was one of the leading dancehall designers then (still is) and I loved wearing his pieces. So what Michael did was have us, his ‘uptown models’ showcase the mainstream clothing and brought in popular dancehall ladies to model the latest in dancehall fashion. Included in the lineup were Carlene Smith who went on to be our ‘Dancehall Queen Carlene’, and Michelle Downer, who is now known as recording artist ‘D’Angel’. I will now reveal the secret to the show (sorry Michael). I would come out with Dale in mainstream fashion, then Dale would immediately come back out in dancehall fashion. Whaaa? He was actually a twin and we loved to see the confused looks in the audience as they wondered how he changed so fast. Thanks for the great memories Michael 🙂
Next up in my ‘model life’ was signing with Jade Marc Models, remember Bridgette 🙂 ? We did a number of shows at Coney Park, which was Jamaica’s theme park then. We also did a number of music videos. I loved being in the video ‘Dancehall Queen’ with who is now my very good friend Peter Lloyd. My face is shown, but the director, Lennie Little-White utilized another part of my anatomy as he said it would be an ‘asset’ to the video 🙂 I am glad you all won’t be able to find it online (crosses fingers). The other video I had tons of fun doing was Fab 5’s ‘Don’t wear none’. I was honoured to also be on the cover of the album.
After I completed the Miss Jamaica and Pulse Model competitions, the awesomely creative soul that is my dear friend Weston Haughton and I started working together on shows. I can’t quite remember how it all came about, but I was and still am at his side as production assistant, back stage manager and sometimes ending up on stage handing out awards, if the presenter is not available. I always make sure to dress up in the event I hear, ‘Roxene here, go hand this out’. Weston creates the most creative and exciting runway shows and he always finds a way to get me on the runway. I remember one show in Florida, the designer forgot my top and Weston said ‘make it work girl’, so my hands became my top and I just had to keep saying, ‘Roxene, don’t drop your hands!’ 🙂
Weston and our fashion family in Atlanta and Florida still put on shows, so I do get to Rock the Runway from time to time. A majority of the designs are made by Caribbean designers as Weston wants to ensure their talent is showcased on the shows. There was one show where the designer took my measurements and the pieces were made and sent from South Africa… you know I had to make sure no extra weight was attained before the show 🙂 There was another show where he wanted to school the audience on different colours, so we had a fruit platter backstage and he handed us fruit that matched our outfits as we went out. Go figure.
I have entered the stage on a bike through the audience, I have been a dancehall queen, a movie icon, worn just a hat and a man’s shirt, carnival costumes, dresses that left little to the imagination, lots of swimwear, G’s included, (Weston likes putting me in swimsuits 🙂 ) and some of the most beautiful wedding dresses and evening gowns. There were so many varieties of outfits, so many, that I just can’t remember them all.
Even though I never got to walk the runways of Milan, do Fashion Week in New York or make the cover of Vogue, the fashion shows, print ads, tv commercials and videos that I have had the opportunity to be part of, will always be very special to me, as I Rocked the Local Runways…