Photos: Kevina Burgess
Kiyanna’s Kulture is a biweekly column that highlights different kinds of fashion.
Fashion is a tale as old as time and has always been a way of expression and identity.
Plattsburgh alumna Kevina Burgess ’22 is this week’s fashion icon. Born in Georgetown, Guyana, before moving to Albany, New York, Burgess has a different background than many of her modeling peers. This factor is what has motivated her to pursue a career in the modeling industry.
A model since 2015, Burgess knows exactly what this line of work entails and how many different shapes it can have.
“The best way to describe modeling is art, and I say that because when I first started modeling, it was a hair show, but it was a part of an actual fashion show,” Burgess said. “It was so powerful, and so anytime I associate modeling with anything, the best way to describe it is art, it’s a masterpiece. Whether it’s the designers you’re showing off, their art or the beauty of you— the model—you’re storytelling.”
Modeling and fashion has always caught Burgess’ attention. From looking in the mirror every day to trying out different kinds of fashion shows, the art behind the glamorous clothes and iconic walks made Burgess feel welcomed even though at the beginning she lacked some of the qualities to be a model.
“I gravitate to modeling because that’s a big part of who I am today. It’s a big portion that allowed me to develop into who I am today,” Burgess said. “I was not confident when I first started modeling. I didn’t think I was beautiful. I didn’t see every representation of myself, and after my experience with the highschool, I wanted that to change.”
While Burgess at some point didn’t believe she had what it takes to be a model, she always believed in positive affirmations.
“The term ‘fake it till you make it’ repeated in my head consistently. Eventually, when you continue to fake something, you’re no longer faking it, it’s you,” Burgess said.
This expression motivated her to be the model and icon that people can aspire to be. Burgess embodies someone who grew up as one person and became a better version.
New York Fashion Week is an event that models, designers and influencers look forward to all year round. From long lines of casting to waiting for callbacks and being measured repeatedly, the pressures of being a model in NYFW are crushing, but worth the wait.
“It was amazing. The vibe was amazing, the models were so friendly, I gained lots of followers, genuine down-to-earth followers,” Burgess said. “But the show itself was very hectic.”
Burgess goes on to mention that although NYFW has its highs and lows, she still managed to escape with good runway shots.
Aside from NYFW, Burgess’ milestones in modeling include appearing on billboards, buses and even all-expense-paid trips. However, despite this, her highschool fashion show is still one of her fondest memories. This first modeling experience is what truly inspired Burgess to work toward her dream of being a model and a positive representation for young Black girls and people of color.
“One of the scenes was called ‘Closer to my dreams’ with a young Black girl, a teen or young adult and an adult,” Burgess said. “They were walking down the runway and basically was showing the young Black girl growing up being this amazing model.”
With every move she makes, Burgess walks with her head high and confidence radiating. Burgess is a humble, ambitious and zealous model who has pushed herself to be an inspiration to others and herself. Burgess encourages others to change the way they speak about their goals and aspirations.
“Whatever I say I am going to, I will do,”Burgess said. “And that’s something everyone should do.”