Francis Keane, Popular Jamaican Fashion Designer, Dies in Florida

Olga Francis Keane and her husband, Dudley, in a 1995 file photo. via @JamaicaGleaner

Renowned Jamaican fashion designer, and longtime resident of Florida, Olga Francis Keane died in the state at the age of 87.

Known as Jamaica’s queen of cutwork embroidery, Keane was famous for dressing women from all strata of the society, including Queen Elizabeth II, former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, first ladies Beverley Manley, Mitsy Seaga, and Edna Manley.

She was also the hands that designed Former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller’s wedding dress as well as Miss World 1993 Lisa Hanna’s attention-grabbing fitted gown. Keane, who studied at Traphagen School of Fashion in New York, was also the only local designer selected to appear in the Ebony Fashion Fair when it came to Jamaica.

Weston Haughton, co-franchise holder of the Miss Jamaica World pageant who studied fashion with her in the 1980s, told the Jamaica Gleaner that as a pioneer in the fashion industry, Keane operated a factory on Hagley Park Road, before moving uptown to Central Plaza, where she expanded, by constructing a showroom, a mezzanine, a large basement, and her factory. This was where she staged her fashion shows in the early days.

The fashion designer moved to Florida about 13 years ago, where she resided with her daughter up to the time of her death. She died on Friday morning after ailing for more than 11 years.

In 1998, Francis Keane was inducted into the Order of Distinction, rank of Officer, by the Jamaican Government.

 

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