Jourdan Dunn On Style, Diversity & Dealing With Rejection

Photo: COurtesy of Calzedonia
At 16, she was discovered in Primark. Two years later she became the first black model to walk the Prada runway in over a decade. Jourdan Dunn is a supermodel in every sense of the word. She's walked for countless heritage houses, including Louis Vuitton, Valentino and Burberry. She's won the BFC's Model of the Year twice and was the first black model to grace the cover of British Vogue since Naomi Campbell 10 years before her. We caught up with Dunn to chat fashion month, not-so-big nights out, and cooking Caribbean food.
Do you have a favourite piece from the Calzedonia collection and how would you style it?
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I'm so used to bare legs. Being a Londoner, I'm not scared of the cold, but now that I'm fronting the campaign, I'm excited to experiment with tights. I like statement fishnets, and the animal print ones are amazing – I'll rock them with a leather mini skirt and a loose T-shirt or black dress.
How was your SS19 fashion month back in September?
Pretty chilled actually. I spent time in London getting ready to move into my new house and then I did the Burberry show, which was amazing. I was super excited for that. Then I went to Paris for Off-White – another great show! It's not like how it used to be for me when I would do 70 shows a season. Now I can pick and choose and just actually enjoy it.
Are you an all-out dresser or do you go more minimalist when you're out on the town?
It depends. Sometimes I like to keep it simple and have one statement look. It depends on where I'm going. Sometimes I just want to be extra and over the top and do a full-on look. It really depends on my mood.
What's your idea of a big night out?
I used to love going out when I was younger but now a big night for me is when my son is sleeping in bed and I can have a tea or glass of wine and just vibe in my living room and put on some music and chill. That's what I'd rather be doing than going out.
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I feel like everyone secretly wants that. So you might not be on the big nights out anymore but is there a tune that always gets you on the dance floor?
Anything that's Afrobeats or bashment. If I hear an Afrobeat then I'm going to be dancing, on the dance floor, at the bar, in the toilets, anywhere – I'll be moving.
Back in 2008, you were the first black model to walk for Prada in over a decade. Diversity is a central conversation in fashion at the moment. Do you think we're making progress?
When I did Burberry and Off-White – it was just two shows but it was nice to see a selection of different models, black models. It wasn't just that one token – that hot black model of the season. I'm seeing a whole load of girls being represented and getting work. It's amazing to see but the fact that we still have these conversations shows there is more to be done. It's still not the norm because we're still having to talk about it.
Photo: COurtesy of Calzedonia
What's your advice to aspiring models?
Get used to rejection. Rejection is a big part of a model's career and the first time you get rejected you feel hopeless and you just want to give up. But if it's something you really want, then keep on going for it. I do believe when one door closes, another opens. I still, today, get rejected for jobs and I legit don't take it personally anymore. It's just part of the job.
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How do you unwind after all the madness of fashion month?
I take time to read and cook and just do normal stuff to get myself back into reality. I find comfort in cooking a meal for myself, my son or reading a book.
What's your favourite thing to cook?
Anything Asian, especially south Asian. And also Caribbean food because that's what I grew up on.
You grew up in the '90s – what are you nostalgic for from that decade?
The TV shows and the channels. Like Nickelodeon, Trouble, all of that. I just remember on a Saturday, when I used to stay at my auntie's house with all my cousins. We would all sleep downstairs and watch Sister Sister, Kenan & Kel – all of those great '90s sitcoms. That, for me, was one of the best parts.
Jourdan Dunn is the face of Calzedonia's AW18 hosiery campaign. The collection launches in-store and online from 9th November, with prices starting at £11.
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