Mrs. Ivy Ralph (1928-2018) – Saluting 60 Jamaican Women

Ivy Ralph - Jamaican Fashion Designer

“ It was an ideal I had as a child, a more comfortable style of dress for men. I wanted to help them get away from the jacket-and-tie routine, to something more comfortably suited for the island’s climate.” – Ivy Ralph

Regarded as one of the pioneers of the Jamaican fashion industry, she was famous for designing practical wear for Jamaican men in the 1970s. Ivy Ralph created the ‘kareba’ ( bush jacket and pants), for then Prime Minister Michael Manley and in so doing, started a fashion revolution for men that went worldwide. There were different versions of the kareba – formal, business and casual. And all were enthusiastically embraced by Caribbean leaders and as far afield as the African continent. The late World Heavyweight Champion Muhammed Ali sported the kareba and at one time, so did Pop icon Michael Jackson.

Although there was a decline in its popularity, as it became associated with the political philosophy of Democratic Socialism, that some argued was close to communism; today it has resurfaced in the United States as ‘Untuck It’ a shorter, sportier version of the bush jacket.

Mrs. Ralph was also a member of the DIVA Foundation, founded by her daughter, noted American Actress, Sheryl Lee Ralph. DIVA brings awareness to HIV/AIDS globally.

Pioneer : The first to develop or apply a new area of knowledge or activity

About the author

Gloria Royale-Davis