Givenchy & Me
A former international top model, an esteemed vocalist of jazz and classical music, a Texarkana native, though well versed in world travels, Carol Miles, is soon to release a five-song album titled Givenchy & Me.
Her song, “Texarkana Cutie,” which she composed on her own, will be featured as well as her cover of “On a Little Street in Singapore.” A bonus song, “Christmas in Paris,” will also be included and both “Texarkana Cutie” and “Christmas in Paris” are written in English and French. The CD releases September 1 and will be available on cdbaby.com.
The album title, Givenchy & Me, pays tribute to the famous designer Hubert de Givenchy, whom Carol worked for as one of his house models in Paris. In September 2019, Miles was honored in Harlem, as one of the original members of Givenchy’s Black American Cabine of models. During the 80s and 90s, while modeling, Miles would pantomime on stage. Even then, she was known as the model who could sing and produce. “I produced three albums while I was in Europe,” Miles said.
Born March 27, 1952, in Union County, Arkansas, to Samuel and Rosie Collins, Miles was raised on gospel music. Her parents were church choir directors, pianists and singers who travelled to the four states area for conference performances. “We moved to Texarkana, Arkansas when I was less than a year old and my brother Bobby was born months later,” Miles said. Their older sisters, Gloria, sang gospel and played organ for them, and Doris was the writer of the family, and younger siblings, Donna and Michael, were born after they moved to the Buchanan area of Texarkana. Music was a family tradition in her household. “Daddy gave me a flutophone (a foot-long cylindrical body with holes along the length, similar to a clarinet) during my days at Jamison Elementary and a clarinet from Beasley’s Music Store during my freshman year at Dunbar High,” Miles remembered. She moved high schools to attend Texas High School during her sophomore year through to her senior year in 1971. Bob Ingram was the band director then and loaned Miles the school’s baritone saxophone and the bassoon during concert season. Miles said she loved her days at Texas High and remembers a classmate won the citywide logo naming contest with the famous and still used today, “Twice as Nice!”
Miles studied at Texarkana College and then enrolled in Texas Southern University with her new husband Charles “Milo” Miles, the cousin of Dr. Otis (Miles) Williams, who founded the legendary group, The Temptations.
While attending school and working part time as a desk clerk at the YWCA, Miles was approached by Houston’s fashion mover, Mrs. Johnson, to model in a show featuring jazz musician Cannonball Adderley and Band. “It all took place in a garden setting, and I was instantly hooked,” Miles said. She then began modeling classes at Houston Modeling Academy. “Since childhood, I was told I should be a model. I was tall and imitated the manner of carrying my body, which was the same weight and height as my beautiful mother,” stated Miles.
She started her modeling career as Carol Miles, in Houston and Dallas, Texas, with the Jeri Halpin and Kim Dawson Agencies. Later, with the Ellen Harth Agency in New York, she was invited to Paris to work in the Givenchy cabine. After working with the Mary Webb Agency in Los Angeles and meeting Parisians, Chantal Thomass, and the great Hubert de Givenchy, she accepted invitations from both to work in Paris. She worked with Elite, Glamour, Zoli and the Agence de Marilyn Gauthier during her nearly two decades stay in Paris.
Typing her name in a Google search leads to a cache of Carol Collins-Miles’ past and present endeavors, including thousands of runway pictures on Pinterest in gorgeous and now vintage 1980 Oscar de la Renta pieces and countless other designer looks.
“I continued modeling and began writing and composing music,” Miles said. While in Paris, Miles also founded two restaurants with partners where she installed small stages and invited models, musicians such as Earth Wind & Fire, and Stevie Wonder to perform. One restaurant, the Creole-Cajun Babylone bis Restaurant, is still going strong at 34 Rue Tiquetonne in the 2nd arrondissement. It is a place you go to enjoy a meal and a colorful crowd who sometimes gathers until the wee hours of the morning. The cuisine can be described as long-stewed and spicy Caribbean, Creole and Cajun dishes.
“I released three single records during 1985 and the early 90s,” Miles remembers. She was then approached to train for the Paris Opera and began training with the company’s voice trainer, Camille Chappell. Giving up her venues that showcased her low voice, Miles continued only jazz performances using her high register on classical songs.
After spending the holidays with her family in Texarkana, Miles recalls being led to promote the legendary Scott Joplin to the town of Texarkana. “So many people worldwide knew of Joplin and all his compositions, especially in Paris. Yet, here at home on visits, people barely knew more than the 1975 mural that my late friend, Jerry Atkins, painted.” Miles, along with several others, including her sister Doris, founded the Scott Joplin Support Group of Texarkana. The foundation promotes the “King of Ragtime” and his works through the production of concerts for the public, art competitions, school musical presentations and more.
Staying in the Texarkana area, Miles has continued performing with many talented local musicians such as the Three of a Kind Jazz Trio, where Jeff Madlock plays bass, Allen Batts piano and the drummer is George Buckner.
In 2018, Miles wrote a song called “Swampoodle Express,” which will be in an upcoming John Tennsion film. While recording this in studio, Miles decided to record more music.
Living in the music and fashion capitals of the world, California, New York, and Paris, Miles says of Texarkana, “there is a pool of talent. I decided to work from home on this album and do all the music myself.” She is collaborating with Bruce Aaron of Prosper Recordz here in Texarkana and has been recording since May.
Miles also plans to release a second album of eight or nine songs in the upcoming year that will celebrate Texarkana. On November 6, which happens to be Scott Joplin’s birthday, she will perform “On the Texarkana Trail of Joplin” at a festivity here in town. On September 3, Miles will perform “On a Little Street in Singapore” at the first Friday event, hosted by the Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council at the Regional Arts Center. She plans to perform in New York City again in early September at fashion and art shows.
Along with the current albums coming out, Carol also gives back to the world of fashion by working to groom upcoming talent with the Michael Turney Agency.
As a professional fashion model, actress, singer, and restaurateur, Carol Miles has certainly gone the ‘extra Miles’ to promote her God-given talents and the talents of others.