May 17, 2012

Bienvenidos a Miami

A couple of months back, in the dead of winter, I went on a little weekend getaway to Miami. I stayed in South Beach and soaked up the sun, the smell of the ocean, the colorful landscape. Dreamed that my expansive room at The W was, in some alternate universe, my warm-weather pied-a-terr, (I mean, look at it. How could I not start day dreaming?) Though my visit was brief (a mere 48-hours), I found myself falling in love with the smell of the ocean, the colorful landscape, and perhaps most of all - THE WEBSTER (swoon, crush, lust, etc.) Oh, just kidding. I went south to Miami to rendezvous with one of my favorite PR gals from Evans and we caught-up on our trans-atlantic friendship on top of swanky rooftop bars overlooking the beach and while soaking up some of the sun. And boy, did I ever need a dose of sun.

One of the highlights of my trip, however, was meeting Philomena Kwao -  a devastatingly beautiful, wickedly smart London-based graduate student who, on a whim, decided to enter a modeling competition - only to find herself in a major contract and sent off to Miami to shoot her very first story, ever, for Cosmopolitan.

Follow the jump for a low-key shoot I did with Philomena, and a special little Q&A I got to do with her! She's an amazing woman!!

Continue reading... How did your entry into the model search come about?
I've always wanted to be a model, but finding my right area and learning to accept myself as I am took a long time. I was actually about to embark on an agency search when two of my closest friends sent me a link to the Style369 competition via Facebook. After a lot of persuasion, I eventually entered; not being sure about the outcome but with the mindset that I had nothing to loose. I entered in early October and I forgot about it until I received an email in November saying I had made the finalists day! I was elated and I guess the rest of the story is taking place now.

What are you looking to gain out of your relationship with Style369 and Evans?

I hope to use this opportunity to become the first black British plus size supermodel, thereby using this as a platform by which I can hopefully empower girls and young women like myself. Evans and Style369 have some of the most amazing campaigns, using the supermodels of the plus size world. I hope to learn from them and use their invaluable knowledge and experience to shape my own successful modelling career.

What role do you want to play for young girls/women?

I want to be a figure-head for young girls today who sometimes may become disillusioned by 'the glamorous lifestyle'. I want to show them that you can really do it all if you try; that is to pursue your dreams, whatever they maybe and get an education. Your education doesn’t have to suffer! I also want to help spread the message that there is beauty in everything: every shape, colour, size, and height … whatever. We are all beautiful.

What is your relationship with your body like? How do you celebrate your curviness?

My relationship with my body has been a turbulent roller-coaster ride. To say I've always been happy with my body would be a lie. But over the years, with the support of my parents, my family and my friends (I have incredible friends, I don’t even call them friends anymore they are my sisters and brothers!), I have learnt to feel beautiful in the body I have. I also have stopped obsessing over trying to fit into a particular size. I just try to keep healthy and within a healthy weight range for my height, regardless of whether that’s an 8 or an 16. I celebrate my curviness by frequently wearing body-con style dresses that exaggerate and enhance my shape.

Where does your confidence and sense of self come from?

My sense of self is firmly based in my faith, however I wouldn't say I am particularly religious. I feel there is a difference between the two. I also feel that I am a melting pot of all the strong woman in my family, and I especially look up to my mum and my grandma as inspiration. And confidence?, I gained confidence the day I realised that I really am my own person and only the opinions of those that love me count and that comes from having a strong network of people around me who are constantly there to support me and remind me that at the end of the day I should always be myself, because you can’t please everyone.

What are the things you love to look for when you shop? What are your struggles or frustrations with looking for clothes?

I love staples and current trends inspire me. I tend to interpret them in my own way as I feel that style is an expression of one’s individuality. I also buy investment pieces that I can mix and match. Such things are timeless and it actually saves me a lot of money. I like to look for good jeans, beautiful day dresses and blazers. I dress very simply most of the time, leggings and tunic/ dress; sometimes with a splash of African print. I tend not to wear jewellery; I guess I just never really made it habitual so now I never remember to put it on. However when I go out I like bright colours, statement pieces: Loud outfits that are still beautiful and classy.

My main frustration with clothes is that I have a large difference in my top half to my bottom half, I also find I get a gap with my jeans and regular trousers are often short.

How do you incorporate your own heritage and love for Ghanaian culture and prints into your contemporary style?
I absolutely adore West African print, the vivid colours especially attract me. I have a number of blazers, tops dresses and skirts made out of various clothes. I used to make clothes when I was younger and now some of my favourite designers include Christie Brown and Sika Designs. I also take a lot of inspiration from the designers behind the seasonal Vlisco campaigns. Additionally, at family functions (funerals, birthdays, weddings etc) I tend to embrace my heritage by wearing differing variations of the Kaba and Slit, Ghana’s traditional dress.

Now that you've been signed with a modelling agency, do you think you career will take a different path? Will you continue to pursue your education?

Not at all; the end career goal is essentially the same; be instrumental in improving health equity across the world. I hope to use modelling as a platform by which to do that. Currently I am studying for an MSc in international Health Management, having graduated with an economics degree last year. I feel blessed because this opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time. My MSc is a year in duration, and I am already half way through so the doubled workload will only be for a little while longer. Models1 have also been very supportive in recognising the importance of finishing my education to the best of my ability.

What was it like to shoot with the Cosmopolitan team? Have you ever been part of a large photoshoot before?
I have never been a part of a large photoshoot before and shooting with the Cosmo team was nothing short of incredible. I felt so special and the Cosmo team were amazing! Shelly, Lisa, Clare and Nicola from Acardia were all very supportive and made me feel extremely confident and relaxed. The photography and production team were also very friendly. Regardless of the crazy weather (manically switching between rain and wind and extreme sunshine), and the extremely early call time (5.30 am) everyone was relatively calm and I had an enormous amount of fun. I feel extremely fortunate that my first major shoot was with such wonderful people.

Any tips for women who want to break into modelling? How did you prepare for the big shoot.

Believe it or not I actually studied to prepare for the shoot. This being my big opportunity I didn’t want to spoil it. As soon as I found out about the shoot, I searched the internet, studying the pictures of well known models such as Crystal Renn, Tara Lynn, Candice Huffine, Robyn Lawley lean and Marquita Pring; watching the way they posed, moved and how they were confident and comfortable with their bodies. I also had major prep talks and words of encouragement from Joe at Models1, my parents and sisters and my best friends.

Breaking into modelling can be extremely difficult. This competition has given me a huge boost and I appreciate how long others work to be given the opportunity I have been given. My advice would be to never give up, keep on trying! Also, don’t take anything personally, criticism is not directed at you personally so don’t take it to heart, and finally work hard and always be optimistic. 


  1. Nicollette that looks like a beautiful trip. I adore the mint manicure! 
    Gosh how beautiful is Philomena. The photos you took are stunning! I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for that shoot

  2. Wonderful photos from your trip. I'd love to take a getaway like that ASAP. And wow, the model Philomena is absolutely beautiful. I wish for her success in becoming the first Black British plus size model.

  3. Love this post! I am headed to Miami next week, so I will be on the lookout for some of these fun places/things you found.



  4. I love your blog! Everything about it is beautiful x

  5. what a nice break must have been!!! oh, you lucky girl! these pictures represents the weekend at the best. Philo is a beautiful woman, really, really feminine

  6. FashionablecollectionsMay 17, 2012 at 9:27 AM

    So jealous... I LOVE miami.


  7. Philomena's celebration of her own individual beauty is truly inspiring!

  8. Nicee Miami <3
    MyBlog:, VAlERiA M.

  9. She truly is a stunning girl, the face...! 

    And I love Miami.... need to get back there! 


  10. I just want you to embrace you so I could at least get an ounce of cool transferred on to me. Thanks. ;) 

  11. Gorgeous! There is simply not a better word for Philomena! Yay to family and friends otherwise we would be deprived of such a beautiful face gracing Cosmo!

  12. So inspiring! We need more women and role models like the two of you! Owning what you have can be challenging in such an image conscious world. I still struggle with it from time to time. Maybe if we all could keep reminding each other of why different is beautiful. Also, very envious of your wardrobe!

  13. Great Post. I can't get over the very first pictre of the sky. It is incredible. The room at the W is amazing too. Cant wait to stay there one day soon when we go to Miami.

  14. Gosh those photos... Beautiful! I started daydreaming :)
    Oh and btw, I like really your blog:) I want to keep on reading it, so I´m a new follower :) xx 

  15. wow, i love all the pics of your miami adventure but that first photo of the sky is spectacular!
    and philomena is stunning too, wishing her all the best in her career! x

  16. Great post and pics ! That room is amazing and those Sanrio statues are so cute ! I am drooling :) Kisses
    Fashion and Cookies
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  17. oh my god, that mother of pearl chandelier!  My mother has an identical one which she had in our childhood home, i might ask her where it is now and if i can have it for my bedroom :D  thanks for the inspiration!

  18. Gorgeous! They look amazing!
    xoxo Oana ,

  19. The photos are really amazing!Love the great views!Looks like a wonderful place to travel!

  20. A friend recommended your blog to me recently, and I've been stalking you a bit (not literally, although I'm also in Brooklyn) but just had to comment on that first picture.  Tremendous!  I was in South Beach last November and got sunburned–sunburned!–while it was practically snowing up here already.  You forget that the water can be so blue right here in the U.S., though there's something mysterious about our murky green East River water.

  21. Great post and such amazing photos! The landscape is ridiculously stunning.

    Such a beautiful plus-size model :) and very inspirational! I certainly don't have the attributes (or desire) to be a model but it is great to read about other peoples successes within Fashion, certainly ones that don't fit the idealogical image that accompanies workers within the Fashion industry. If that made no sense it is possibly because I am tired.


    Click here to visit my blog – Hailes Hearts Fashion. 

  22. lovely photos, you use instagram so well! & that first picture especially is stunning too.

    Katie x

  23. Welcome to Miami!  I was born and raised here and I love it ... though I won't lie, I think I'd seriously love NYC too!
    ♡ Lexi
    FASHION:  Glitter & Pearls
    WEDDINGS:  Glitter Weddings 

  24. all these photos are absolutely beautiful!

    love your blog, definitely going to be a new follower!

    from, helen at

  25. Beautiful pictures,  amazing collection.

    pas cher

  26. Fabulous,  perfect combination

  27. Wow, your hotel room is legit the coolest thing. I could live there. & the model is beautiful, with lovely curves. I really enjoyed reading this interview,  glad it had good questions & not just your general boring interview ones.

  28. She is just stunningly beautiful, I am in awe.
    I'm in love with that hotel room as well, by the way. 

  29. Looks like the perfect getaway. Your hotel room was gorgeous and I love all of the tropical colors you captured around town.

    Stay in the Lines

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