Jamaican Alicia Burke’s Meteoric Rise to Supermodel
Photo/Elite Model Management
No one does it like Caribbean people. Jamaican-born fashion model Alicia Burke is breathing proof of this mantra. Like many Caribbean trailblazers that came before her, Alicia Burke is helping to change the way Black models from developing countries like Jamaica are seen in the world of fashion.
Since being discovered at a modeling competition in 2014, Alicia Burke’s career has skyrocketed to stratospheric heights. This Jamaican supermodel has become a frequent face on the cover of high-end fashion magazines, she has conquered the runways of New York, Paris, and Milan and she has been featured in countless editorial campaigns for major fashion brands. I’m talking about Ralph Lauren, Dolce and Gabbana, Tommy Hilfiger and Stella McCartney. These names feel so far-fetched when we consider the scope of the Caribbean region and yet Alicia Burke has already worked her charm and landed herself in the company of global supermodels such as Gigi Hadid, Kate Moss, Carolyn Murphy and more.
Major fashion designers, casting directors, and editors are addicted to her and rightly so. Burke’s aura is unmatched, and those high cheekbones and almond eyes are mere bonuses.
In a Harpers Bazaar’s 2016 article entitled ‘Watch This Face’ she was praised for her beauty and elegance: “With striking features that are prime for editorial work, a perfected runway walk and a commanding photographic presence, Burke has all the versatility to make the biggest houses sit up and take notice.”
The Rise of Alicia Burke’s Career
Alicia Burke was discovered in 2014 when she participated in Pulse Models’ Caribbean Model Search. Pulse saw various winners in the past and yet, Kingsley Cooper, founder of the Pulse Modeling Agency could not stop singing praises about this Jamaican star. He highlighted that, “Everything about Alicia is right. She is not egotistical, she is practical, matter of fact and does what she has to do.”
Perhaps Mr. Cooper’s fanboying had something to do with the fact that in the 37-year history of his modelling agency, no other first-place model had climbed up the ranks and attained global success as quickly as Burke had. In her first year alone, she participated in Milan, New York and Paris Fashion Week. She was also featured on the cover of Italian Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, two of the industry’s most coveted publications.
Alicia Burke on the cover of Vogue Italia
Vogue appears to adore her just as much as haute-couture brands. She has done editorials for the French, Japanese, Mexican and Spanish editions of Vogue magazine and has also worked with Gucci, Prada, Versace and Armani - some of the exclusive high fashion brands in the world. Unstoppable Yes You has mad respect for Alicia Burke for booking work with such iconic brands less than a year after her career officially kicked off.
In 2019 Burke was named one of the Top 50 highest paid models in the industry according to Models.com, merely 3 years into her career. It is, surely, a matter of personal accomplishment for Alicia to be on this list. Why wouldn’t it be? Influential supermodels such as Kendall Jenner and Adriana Lima are included in this list and to be affiliated with such prestige is no doubt a major success.
However, this is a matter of Caribbean pride as well. We must no longer feel as though our own vanguards are nothing in comparison to the rest of Western society because this could not be further from the truth. And Alicia Burke’s placement on this distinguished list tells us as much. We are winning.
Alicia Burke Keeps the Momentum During the Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has indeed trumped the plans of billions across the globe but even in these challenging times, Alicia’s determination didn’t let up. She maintained a strong work ethic and she shot numerous editorials and campaigns, which were released over the lockdown period in 2020 to keep the momentum. These included campaigns for the beauty giant Laura Mercier and retail brand H&M and editorials for L’Officiel, Madame Figaro, and Elle UK and Germany.
In the summer of 2020, Alicia Burke graced the cover of the May/June issue of Elle Germany, making it her fifth international magazine cover. More recently, the Jamaican beauty was featured in a 2021 cover story for L’Officiel India, which was released in a special ‘April Collector’s Edition’ for the magazine’s 20th Anniversary Issue. Burke was shot in her hometown by photographer JD Barnes among the lush green vegetation and crystal clear waters of the Blue Lagoon in Port Antonio, Jamaica. These editorials remind us that even in the milieu of such ground-breaking success, Burke honors her Caribbean heritage by showcasing the beauty of Jamaica.
Photo/Alicia Burke Instagram
Vogue Cover Girl is Looking to Blaze New Paths
Born in Old Harbour, St. Catherine and raised by her grandmother, Alicia Burke came from humble beginnings that resonate with many West Indians. She carries around her grandmother’s nightgown with her as a good luck charm. But perhaps the most unstoppable characteristics of Alicia Burke are humility and ambition.
When asked what advice she would give to younger girls interested in modeling, she said, “If you’re going to do it for the money, don’t. The money doesn’t come like that. You have to have the passion for it and be patient.’
Indeed, Burke’s passion and patience paid off. But with all these successes she still has the goals of participating in a Balmain Campaign and in the Victoria Secret’s Fashion Show.
Burke’s career has merely arrived at its fifth year and counting. There is no doubt that the future burns bright for this unstoppable Jamaican supermodel.