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Meet the Jamaican Model Bringing Grace Jones Style to Saint Laurent


It’s not every model who can channel the energy and androgyny of Grace Jones, but this season at Saint Laurent Jenese Roper did just that. With her flattop, black blazer, and confident walk, Roper’s look mirrored the star’s classic Jean-Paul Goude cover for Nightclubbing, immediately capturing the attention of the fashion crowd. The similarities don’t end there: Like Jones, Roper is a Jamaican model with dynamic creativity—in addition to modeling she acts—who got her big break in Paris. First discovered by Deiwght Peters of Saint International, during last year’s Fashion Face of the Caribbean contest in Kingston, Jamaica, Roper snagged her first campaign quickly thereafter and a spot in Anthony Vaccarello’s debut collection for the French house. Here, six facts to know about the rising star and her plans for the future.
Her first modeling job took her straight to Paris.
“The Saint Laurent campaign was my first-ever modeling job. They flew me to Paris to meet the team and they were all so sweet. First I met Piergiorgio [Del Moro] and Samuel [Ellis Scheinman], the casting directors, and then after a quick fitting and walking I met Anthony [Vaccarello]. He seemed as excited to meet me as I was to meet him. I went back to Jamaica afterward and then my mother agent called me and told me I was confirmed for the job. I was running and screaming all around the house. I was just so happy.
“When I flew back to Paris for the shoot, it was truly fun. Then when I saw the magazine pictures, I was just humbled and excited at the same time because I knew it was a big deal around the world. I felt special, too, as this was Anthony’s first campaign as a designer at Saint Laurent. I like that they are supportive and I hope to work with them for a long time.”
She doesn’t mind being compared to Grace Jones.
“Before the show, Anthony decided to change my look with a new haircut. He told me he was giving me a Grace Jones look and I didn’t know who that was! Then I saw the picture and I was like, ‘Wow!’ It was just really great. Since the show I have learned a lot about her and I love the comparisons, plus the fact she is also Jamaican and started in Paris as a model. I think she is amazing and I hope to meet her someday.”
She’ll take denim and Nikes over a ball gown any day.
“I love being casual with a little edge. If I’m going out, I do something glamorous, but I am a tomboy and love jeans and sneakers.”
Seeing her fellow models on the runway keeps her inspired.
“Deiwght [of Saint International] invited me to the first fashion show that I’d ever been to, a big one he’d had at a great house [during Caribbean Style Week] and it was amazing. I remember seeing the models like Tami Williams and Kai Newman and saying to myself, ‘I want to be just like them.’ Now that I have started, I love every minute of it.”
Glamorous fashion debuts aside, her focus right now is school.
“[In my everyday life] I’m very shy, I’m at a private school, so for now these days I’m studying a lot. I lost my mom just about the time I shot the campaign, so I visit my father and family in the country since I now live and go to school in the capital, Kingston.”
She’s only just getting started.
“I plan to take it to the top. I want to work with all the best designers and do even more campaigns. Eventually, I also want to act and do charity work. I come from a poor background, so I honestly didn’t know much about fashion before I started, but it was a big dream come true for me [to walk Paris Fashion Week]. When my mother agent told me I was going to Paris, I thought I was dreaming—my family was so excited. I love the runway now, so I’m looking forward to many more appearances.”

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