Everything Gucci for Haytal
Dazzling camera lights, lengthy runways, the glamour and luxury that comes from being a high-end fashion model, were the last things 19-year-old Saint International model Haytal Blackwood expected to experience in her entire lifetime. However, for Blackwood, a long-limbed beauty from Malvern, St Elizabeth, whose fast ascension to becoming a major label fashion muse, her destiny is only just starting to unfold.
Blackwood's emergence as one of global fashion's hot new faces, started two years ago during her visit to Kingston one weekend. She was in the vicinity of The Jamaica Pegasus hotel and noticed a steady stream of tall, young women heading to the property. Out of curiosity, she ventured towards the venue and discovered that a model casting was in progress. It was there that she encountered Saint International Founder and CEO Deiwght Peters, who at once recognised the gawky girl's promise.
Fast forward to the present day, and true to Peters' vision, Blackwood is an international fashion star.
Blackwood's most recent milestone in her journey to stardom involved embarking on a new global advertising campaign for the iconic Italian fashion house, Gucci.
"I am so honoured to be a face for Gucci," she succinctly declared to Outlook, en route to catching a flight to The Big Apple. "I'm a proud Jamaican country girl and this is an accomplishment I don't take for granted in the least. It makes me truly realise that it's really not where you come from, but where you're going."
She was exclusively booked by Peters for Gucci's Fall/Winter 2018 collection presentation in Milan in February and flew to Rome ahead of the show date to meet the Gucci team. For her runway appearance, blackwood wore a mauve long sleeve dress with ruffle details, padded shoulders and an asymmetric hem. In a cast of 90 models, Blackwood made an indelible impression on Gucci designer and creative director Alessandro Michele, and the casting director pair of Barbara Nicoli and Leila Ananna, who shortlisted the Saint stunner to be part of the label's advertising campaign.
Over the Moon
Shot in April in Vienna, Austria, at the tail-end of the winter season by photographer Glen Luchford, Blackwood recalls being over the moon when she realised she would be part of the Gucci legacy.
"The experience was extremely awesome, especially being in snow for the first time," shared the 19-year-old model who was excited to be apart of the 11-day Gucci campaign shoot. "I really enjoyed working with the photographer Glen. I liked his sense of humour. Designer Alessandro Michele, was present on most days of the shoot and by his reactions, he seemed very pleased."
Her Gucci ad campaign images are in the windows of the luxury label's storefronts everywhere from New York to Paris and splashed across the pages of the world's leading fashion publications. Before her life-altering encounter at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, the daughter of a farmer (mother) and security guard (father), initially envisioned herself as a hairstylist.
"I see where there can be longevity in the modelling business. I have great admiration for supermodel Naomi Campbell. I love her attitude and how she's managed to stay relevant for 30 years," said Blackwood, who also credits her Saint superstar peer Tami Williams as professional inspiration.
"Tami would call me whenever she would visit St Elizabeth to see her family and offer words of encouragement, long before I first travelled to Europe, and I really appreciated the interest she took in me," the Gucci girl divulged.
Next up for Blackwood is the fashion season's month-long Spring/Summer 2019 designer collections which begin in New York next month and concludes in Paris in October.
Last seen on the runway for Dolce & Gabanna in Italy in June, she's also looking forward to walking more shows for Gucci and expanding her client portfolio to include other major labels and her next big campaign.