Delesa Archer grew up watching Tyra Banks on America’s Next Top Model and hearing comments on her tall and slender figure, so it came as no surprise when she chose to pursue modelling; a choice that has seen her take the runway in international designer brands including Yeezy Season 2, a Kanye West clothing line and Jreamer, a Jerome Lamar brand that Beyoncé has become affiliated with in many of her song videos.
“I was a Tyra Banks fan since primary school and also a fan of Meleesa Payne, a local fashion designer and model,” Delesa told The Scene in an interview. “Then while growing up people were always saying, ‘girl you’re tall; go and model’. So all of this and having a fascination with fashion I decided to get into it.”
Delesa’s first foray on stage was while she was a pupil of Sacred Heart Primary during a school fair. Then during her time at Christ Church Secondary she modelled at concerts.
She has been walking runways professionally for six years now.
“My family always knew I liked modelling so they supported me from day one,” she said. “I was scouted by Junior Kennedy of Traits Model Management. Through his management I was able to get signed and experience New York Fashion Week for two consecutive seasons.
“Some of the benefits of modelling are you get to meet new people and exchange cultures. The funny thing is that when I tell people I’m from Guyana, the first thing that comes to mind is the African country, Ghana. So when I introduce myself I have to say Guyana, South America. I often feel like I’m in a pageant introducing myself.
“Modelling has helped to build my self-esteem. The best part of modelling is wearing the make-up and getting the opportunity to wear designer clothing. We [models] get to wear the designs first. Every show is a different make-up team so obviously different make-up and different designer brands.”
On the runway, Delesa always tries to remember to maintain a calm mind and to run the routine again and again in her head before getting onstage. Remembering to remain calm paid off when there was an incident during her first international show.
“I remember my first show,” Delesa said. “The show coordinators would always say ‘if anyone falls, do not stop and pick them up. They’re road kill.’ So as I was doing my finale on the runway there were models behind me and I remember hearing the crowd’s reaction… I could tell something was happening behind me and in my mind I was like, ‘please don’t grab my dress, please don’t grab my dress’. After the show I saw photos of the model behind me falling and had she stretched out her hand and caught hold of my dress, we both would have gone down.”
According to Delesa, modelling for Kanye was not something that had her all excited. In fact, she schools herself to remain calm—this was evident throughout the interview—because she said getting excited could lead to nervousness. Delesa is the consummate professional.
Before a fashion show models are usually fitted and although many of them may want to take themselves selfies in their designer brands, they have to sign contracts which keep them from doing so; that way designs are never leaked.
Delesa has modelled for New York Fashion Week, Spring/Summer 16, walking for designers: Kanye West (Yeezy Season 2), Malan Breton (Homme), Isa Arfen, Anne Bowen and Cesar Galindo (CZAR). Other international designers she has walked for are: Reo Uribe (Gypsy Sport), Jerome Lamar (Jreamer), Pedram Karimi and Dexterdexterdexter.
On the local scene, Delesa has strutted the runway at Guyana Fashion Week for designers Randy Madray and Tracy Douglas; at the Sickle Cell Awareness Show for Sonia Noel; at the Red Cross Fashion Show & Tea Party (Traits Model Management) and for Traits Model Management’s Fashion Show ‘Strut’.
For Delesa being a model here has its challenges. For one, she said, models are poorly paid and are exploited. “We [models] need more support in the fashion industry. I think the government needs to push more culture and social arts in general. We need also for our own Guyanese people to support us. Overseas, people in social arts can develop their skills/talents in whichever field they desire,” she said.
Currently, Delesa is pursuing a degree in Medical Technology at the University of Guyana. This however, will not deter her from having a modelling career and she hopes that in a few years’ time she would be a more established model.
In about a decade she would like to have either a boutique that would cater for women and girls attending cocktail parties, weddings, proms and grand balls or a candy store; by that time she hopes she would have decided which.
Delesa enjoys dancing, DIY (Do It Yourself) projects, travelling and reading magazines (Marie Claire and Vogue).
She admonishes aspiring models to keep their heads up and always have a second choice. “Follow your dreams,” she encouraged.
“Being a part of fashion shows has been an exciting one and a learning experience.”