Beauty contest winner, designer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Véronique de la Cruz is best known as the first woman of African ancestry to be selected as Miss France. De la Cruz was born in the small city of Saint-François on the French Caribbean Island of Guadeloupe on November 3, 1974. De la Cruz enjoyed the beach as a child and spent much of her time there with her friends, a leisure pursuit which would eventually help determine her career path. She graduated with honors from secondary school at the age of 17 and then enrolled in a college in France to study political science. Whether she graduated is unknown.
In 1992, De la Cruz became a contestant for Miss Guadeloupe and won this title. Encouraged by the win she decided to enter the contest for Miss France the following year (1993). Residents of Guadeloupe and other French West Indian overseas possessions are French citizens which allowed her to complete for the Miss France crown. To the surprise of her peers and numerous observers, she became the first woman of color to win this coveted title. She was also the first woman of African ancestry to represent a European nation in the Miss Universe Pageant held in Mexico City, Mexico. De la Cruz did not win the title. It went instead to Dayanara Torres, Miss Puerto Rico. Undeterred, De la Cruz participated in the Miss World 1993 pageant held in Sun City, South Africa and was elected as the 6th Dauphine (an honorary title) in this pageant.
After the Miss World pageant De la Cruz returned to the passion of her youth, the beach, and began designing a unique line of bathing suits. Growing up in Saint-Francois, De la Cruz revealed to a reporter that she and her friends tried to alter their swim wear, not only for fit, but to have more colorful apparel. Her youthful experience led her to create a successful swimwear line. Eventually De la Cruz expanded her clothing line and established the fashion label, “V Del Sol,” for the Canadian and Jamaican markets. Eventually stores were opened in New York and Washington, D.C. Throughout her entrepreneurial efforts in business, she remained close to the Miss France Committee which led to her being selected to design the swim suits for the 2010 national competition.
With the success of her first business, De la Cruz in 2013, launched a second endeavor, the “De La Cruz Project,” headquartered in Escazu, Costa Rica. The Project is an art gallery and artist retreat which allowed Central American and Caribbean artists to develop and display their work as well as form associations with other talents throughout the world. Serving as director of this organization, she, along with Project Curator Omar Lopez-Chahoud, introduced these artists and their works in galleries in London, England, New York City, New York, Chicago, Illinois, and Miami, Florida.