Left: Pulse Model Janelle 'Nell' Robinson on the cover of British Men's magazine 'Arena'. Right:Jamaican model Nadine Willis on the cover of 'PRIDE' magazine. - Contributed photos
Faced with strident charges by perennial black supermodel Naomi Campbell, British model industry establishment agency Select Model Management drew on the success of two of the world's top models from Pulse, Nadine Willis and Nell Robinson, as proof of the quality of the work effected by black talent.
Three years after a ground-breaking Vogue editorial with photographer great Mario Testino and her historic rise to fame in the international modelling world, Nadine Willis is still making headlines. Willis, who scored several firsts, blazing a trail for black girls in the modern modelling era, counts Gucci, Kenneth Cole, Rimmel, Moschino, Jaguar and several other ultra luxe, high-end fashion brands among her many clients.
Poised to take over
Incidentally, Nadine was poised to take the place of Naomi Campbell, as reported by The New York Post, in her first season on the fashion circuit. Willis, like Campbell, began her career in London and landed some of her biggest jobs in that market. She was named among the top five models by British Vogue in the beginning of what would be a stellar career. Willis also shot fashion stories for multiple publications of Vogue, including the French, Italian, Japanese, British and Spanish editions.
The Sunday Times of London also featured Nadine in several spreads of the magazine, including a number of cover stories. Willis' biography and meteoric rise in the world of fashion was also extensively covered by British Glamour and French Vogue.
The mixed-race Nell Robinson also got her start in London with Select, the number one agency in that market. Covered by the likes of magazines Arena, GQ and Cosmo, Nell's path to modelling success took more of the sexy turn. Her early career was covered by Arena, who declared her as 'the body' back in 2005. Nell has since shot campaigns for the sexy Victoria's Secret line and Gossard lingerie. One of her biggest campaigns to date came from British-based cosmetic heavyweight Rimmel. Next week she shoots Nordstrom in New York.
In a story filed by Arifa Akbar for the Independent, Naomi Campbell expresses dismay at the lack of black girls on the cover of magazines such as Vogue since her debut in the business. Campbell's comments focuses particularly on Britain, her country of birth, for being one of the main culprits in the sidelining of women of colour. The Independent sought an industry viewpoint from Select Model Management, positioned as it is at the top of the U.K. market.
Interestingly, one of the agency's co-owners, Tandy Newton, was recently named among the 50 most influential black businesswoman in Britain. Said Newton: "We have some very successful black models on our books, such as Nadine Willis, who was the first black girl to get a Gucci contract. Nell Robinson, another of our top black models, has appeared in campaigns for Victoria's Secret and Rimmel and is shooting for H&M."
Both Willis and Robinson came through Pulse's Caribbean Model Search.