Nicole Morson : My love for fashion will never die
Dominica's first international runway model has devoted her time and talent to pursuing her passion, while helping others thrive in the creative industry
"I had a love for fashion since I was five," Nicole Morson told The Sun. "I would dress in my mom's high heels and scarves, and walk around the house playing my toy trumpet,"
Nicole, who went through a tomboy phase, ultimately reignited her desire to be a professional model and took the necessary steps to do so,
"I always admired Naomi Campbell as my mom had magazine clippings of her. In 2011 I decided to take modeling seriously and found a small group of people training models," Nicole said.
Then Glenda Lugay visited to host Dominica Fashion Week, bringing models and designers from the region. Through this event, Nicole received more exposure and training.
"I got to see what modeling really was and to network with designers and models. I eventually walked the runways, closed shows, and did fashion shoots across the Caribbean," she said. "I met with Viktor Luna from Project Runway who said if I ever made it to New York, I could walk the runway for him."
Nicole poured her heart and soul into honing her skill for the world stage. She got the opportunity of a lifetime to walk the runway for New York Fashion Week – held in February and September - from 2014 to 2017.
"The day I arrived I started to look for castings. I had to walk with my Comp Card - four profile pics, model measurements, and contact info - then walk for the designers who would only call or email if you made the cut," she said. "I was fortunate to have booked jobs from 75% of my casting calls."
Nicole met legends in the industry including Naomi Campbell, Iman, and Edward Enninful (Editor of British Vogue). She also walked the runway for a multitude of shows and designers including Kanye West.
Morson, who experienced her fair share of racism and insecurities in the industry, describes the New York experience as an emotional roller coaster, but well worth it.
"New York was fun, eye opening, and a moment of growth," she said. "At casting calls, I would see long lines of models and sometimes feel intimidated but I thank my mom and strong mindset that I got through it."
She shared that models are among the most underpaid and undervalued in the industry, but applauds the global trend towards including a wider variety of models.
Deep rooted passion and networking opportunities kept Nicole going in this cutthroat business which, over the years, she has tried to improve in Dominica so that models can know their true value.
"Organizers are reluctant to pay models, yet they pay everyone else involved in the show," she said. "Models need to have things like make up, hair, and transportation provided instead of paying for it out of pocket. Unless we stand as a unified front, we won't see changes."
Though she has cut back on runway modeling, Nicole remains a campaign and commercial model. She has also branched out, taking on roles like creative director, digital marketer, and project manager.
"I host a video series called A Day In Dominica. I am a creative designer and worked on music videos such as Colton T's Black Beauty and Marie Pascale's African Prince. I have been project coordinator and project assistant on international assignments. And I am learning to become a camera woman, "Nicole said.
The modeling industry is not the glitz and glam it's hyped up to be, yet Nicole dreams of training Dominicans to become professional models.
"I wanted a protégé to push. I always wanted the next person to do better, go further, be signed, and on the magazine covers," she said.
The dreams don't stop there. Nicole aims to have her name on other international projects, bringing greater recognition to Dominica.
"I want to work on bigger creative design projects like music videos for Machel Montano and one day Beyoncé . I also want to bring this talent to movies, starting with Caribbean films then going international, "Nicole said.
- By Andrea Louis