From Gucci to Sports Illustrated to Aerie, these beautiful island girls stomp down runways, demand your attention on billboards, and sport designer dresses in A-list catalogues. Although these women can be seen in the most elaborate garb at New York Fashion Week and similar events, they have dreams and aspirations beyond their beautiful features. Read more to discover the most iconic next-gen Caribbean women in the modeling industry to be on the lookout for.
Everyone can agree that American Vogue editorial model, Tami Williams, is one of the most beautiful island girls. She was born and raised with her four siblings by a single mother in Kingston, Jamaica. She was discovered at the young age of 11, already standing at 5’8”, by Saint International’s CEO, but turned down the offer because she wanted to experience childhood. Two years later, Williams placed second at Saint International’s Fashion Face of the Caribbean contest and started modeling — by then she was 5’11.” She moved to New York to pursue her modeling career and signed with modeling agency Elite New York.
Williams is the first Caribbean model to be shown in Calvin Klein and by the time she was 16, she had been in American Vogue multiple times. Williams is categorized as an “it girl” with the biggest designers already on her portfolio like Dior, Valentino, Marc Jacobs, Gucci, Versace, Alexander McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana, and Chanel. Though Williams is a regular at places like the Chanel Couture show, success has not changed her and at the young age of 22, she still returns home often and remains one of the most beautiful island girls.
Kai Newman’s modeling career started at the age of 14 when she was leaving the dentist with her mother. Born in Kingston, Jamican with an impressive height of 5’10, Newman was instantly discovered by Saint International. In 2013 Newman won the Fashion Face Of The Caribbean and was signed by One Management model agency, which represents some of the biggest names in the fashion business.
Considered a one of the most beautiful island girls, Newman is among the industry’s most in-demand models and has worked for the biggest brands like Gucci, Marc Jacobs, Calvlin Klien, Moschino, Rag & Bone, Maybelline, Nordstrom, and Banana Republic. Newman and fellow Kingston, Jamaican model Tami Williams have a model sisterhood that has media buzzing, saying this could be the Jamaican version of the legendary trinity of Naomi, Cindy and Christy Turlingotn. Newman, who can be seen strutting down runways during New York Fashion Week, says she adores coming back to her hometown to do runways in Kingston.
Born in Trinidad & Tobago, Shivani Persad has been seen on campaigns for popular retail brand Aerie. Growing up she was told that she should be a model, but fears of her skin being too dark or not dark enough to represent her culture led Persad to push these dreams to the side. It wasn’t until she went to Canadian Idol as a dancer and was told by one of the judges that she should consider modeling that she started to apply to agencies. Once she started modeling, she became tired of being defined only by her beauty and solely being asked questions like, “What’s your favorite style?” or “Who’s your favorite designer?”
To combat this, she started a podcast called “More than a Model” and decided that she was going to start interviewing models for being entrepreneurs, having blogs, or being activists. Because of her multicultural background she tries to educate others about feminism, inequality, and shadeism. If she wasn’t a model, Persad said that she would want to be doing something of substance in the media, fighting for black and brown girls everyday. Environmental activism is also very important to her, especially being in the fashion industry. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the fashion industry accounts for about 20% of the world’s water waste and another 10% of all global carbon emissions.
Naomi Chin Wing
As a Trinidad native, Naomi Chin Wing attended a modeling workshop in 2015 where she won a competition she had casually entered, and was immediately signed to a modeling agency. Wing later had her breakout moment at the age of 18 years old, when she was cast to walk exclusively in the Saint Laurent Spring/Summer 2019 show in Paris. Only moving up from here, the next stop for the young model was couture.
She appeared on the runway for big-name shows like Dior Haute Couture, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier Couture, and Valentino Haute Couture. In the 2018 Fall/Winter ready-to-wear season, Wing walked in 26 shows in New York, London, and Paris for designers including Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Off-White, and Alexander McQueen. The family she grew up in didn’t have a lot of money, so she now works to create a safe space for her family and herself. If she weren’t a model, Wing says that she would be an artist or graphic designer.
Chase Carter was scouted at the Sydney Airport flying back to her home country of The Bahamas when she was just 13 years old, making her one of the youngest beautiful island girls every discovered. Carter’s first photoshoots were with NYLON, a top modeling magazine, and she has since gained a strong following on her social media accounts, becoming an influencer with millions of followers. Carter’s popularity has grown a lot because of her YouTube channel, MickCheese, that she runs with best friend and fellow model, Meredith Mickelson.
Carter was a 2018 rookie for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue where she landed a partnership with the athletic brand Under Armour. Her catalog of campaigns includes huge name brands like Victoria’s Secret Pink, Maybelline, Nike, and she has been on the cover of Maxim magazine. Carter has a passion for athleticism and has explained that she wants to give back to her country as much as possible, whether its tennis shoes or helping sports coaches.
Mileshka Cortés Bernard
Making Puerto Rico proud is one of the most beautiful island girls every discovered: Mileshka Cortés Bernard, who is quickly fulfilling a lifelong dream to become a model. In 2017, at the age of 17, Bernard’s sharp features and editorial look locked down her first runway show for Yves Saint Laurent at Paris Fashion Week — her entree into the competitive world of modeling. Not long before walking for YSL, Bernard was signed with Elite Model New York. With a promising career ahead of her, she walked in a FENTY x PUMA runway show for Rihanna’s well known lingerie brand. Despite her young age, Bernard has an impressive resume, walking for other designer brands like Alexander Wang, MSGM, Acne Studios, Yang Li.