“I was Rejected for Not Being Photogenic.” How Supermodel Jayne Windsor Became one of Modelling’s Iconic Faces
A very special interview today, with a veritable supermodel! Jayne Windsor has shot with the créme de la créme of photographers for all the top covers and campaigns, and has enjoyed the sort of career many models can only dream of.
I actually recognise Jayne from the shot below, which was her model card for a while when I was at Select. Despite there being wall-to-wall stunners and covergirls, this picture always stood out to me most and I instantly recognised it when it came up on the Select site when I looked for pics after our interview…Which probably explains why Jayne has had such a long-standing, successful career.
Having had a little break from the job – more on which later – she’s now returned and is fronting the new Hope A/W collection. I caught up with Jayne between a busy day of meetings, modelling and motherhood to find out about her career.
R: Hello! Thanks for taking the time to speak to me. How did you get into modelling?
J: I came down to London when I was about 19 because all my friends were telling me I should try. I visited Models 1 and loads of others and they all said no and that I wasn’t photogenic enough. So I headed back to Newcastle, where I’m from, and eventually got in with an agency in Leeds, where I paid hundreds of pounds to get my portfolio and pictures together. Then they told me Japan would love me, so I was sent back down to London to see a Japanese agent down there. She said I wasn’t skinny enough for Japan, but that Select would love me.
So I once again did a walk-in when I was 21 and Chrissie and Clare [2 of the 3 founders of Select – R] at Select loved me. They were so excited, they wanted me to move down right away and covered my rent for me until I was earning. And of course they hated the pictures I’d paid so much for at my Leeds agency. My biggest advice to new models is to never pay for a portfolio, the pictures are utterly crap!
By Mario Testino, pic from Instagram
R: Were you given a make over? When I started at Select they gave me quite a big make over. I was your typical overplucked brows, terrible outfitted teen. Thank God they did!
J: No, Select were really cool. I did have a perm I had to grow out…I wasn’t really into fashion at all, I just wore jeans and a T-shirt.
Love this! Everyone had that Sarah Leon Polaroid in front of that blue wall during a certain era. Also: I actually like the perm!!
R: A perm! Amazing. So did you find success quite quickly?
J: Within about 6 months I was shooting loads with David Sims and Peter Lindbergh.
Jayne by David Sims, pic from Instagram
R: Oh my goodness Peter Lindbergh! I love his pictures and there’s a lot of press about him at the moment because he’s shot the Pirelli Calendar. What’s he like to work with?
J: Oh perfect. He’s friendly, he instantly puts you at ease.
Jayne, leftt, with supermodels Esther Canadas and Linda Evangelista by Lindbergh. Pic from Instagram.
R: And what about some of those big name models you were shooting in groups with? I mean you were part of a really iconic group of women.
J: All lovely. Kate Moss is so down to earth. Erin O’Connor is so friendly, in fact we’re back in touch and going to meet up when I next come down to London. Stella Tenant has kids too so we get on. It was probably only Naomi who wasn’t so easy…
Era defining faces, including Jayne centre back. Pic from Pinterest.
R: I don’t think you’re the first to say that! I hope she didn’t throw a phone at you?
J: No nothing like that. She just wouldn’t really talk to the other girls, I think she saw herself as above us. Actually I do remember one time with Lindbergh, he was shooting 11 models at once. The make up artist started on another model first and there was hell to pay. She was so angry not to be first.
R: Which is a bit weird because surely you want to go last so you don’t have to get the make up redone!
So you say you have kids – I’ve done a series on modelling and motherhood – how did you find the two went together? Did they compliment, or did one detract from the other?
J: Well I’ve never known any different because I had my twins as soon as I started.
R: Wait what?! Twins?!
J: Yep. Pretty much as soon as I started modelling. And then I took a quick break to have a baby at 27, then again at 34.
Jayne with one of her daughters – pic from Instagram.
R: Blimey! It’s pretty unusual to hear of a relatively new face having twins then going on to do so well.
J: Select were just so supportive, and it’s just the way my life went, I did have to turn down some amazing jobs because of my family but on the whole it was fine. It was a bit strange travelling to Paris to shoot Vogue with Lindbergh and then heading home to Newcastle to put the twins to bed…
R: Yeah but there are models who miss jobs cos they’re too hungover, or can’t be bothered, or don’t wanna miss their boyfriend’s 21st birthday. You had babies! So I’m sure they understood. I can imagine it was tough but it’s amazing inspiration to any models hoping to juggle their career with a family. How did you manage childcare?
J: I’m really lucky to be based in Newcastle where my family live, so they took on a lot of it when I needed them too. It actually worked well, though when I lived in London for a while it was much more of a nightmare.
R: You’ve recently come back to modelling. What prompted that decision?
J: I’d been wanting to come back for a while, but my husband died two years ago, I needed time after that.
R: I am so sorry.
J: It’s been incredibly hard. I’ve shocked myself, though, that I’ve been strong through it.
R: I suppose you don’t know until you experience something like this, how you will be.
J: That’s right, and my youngest girl has actually been my rock. She chose to go back to school the day after we heard the news, and she’s been amazing.
R: So what prompted your return to modelling?
J: I just felt like…Life’s too short…Everyone says I look a lot younger than I am and I just miss it.
I’ll have what she’s having! (Water).
I want to do something for myself – I’m alright for money so it’s not about that, it’s just that extra string to my bow I enjoy. I’m so excited. Select took me back right away, and my friend who used to represent me at Marilyn’s in New York is now looking after me at Wilhemina’s – she was really keen for me to return.
R: You definitely look amazing! Do you have any secrets to share with us?
J: As my Nan always told me…always cleanse, tone and moisturise, It doesn’t have to be expensive products you’re using, just as long as you treat your skin well. And drink plenty of water!
R: You just shot for the Hope lookbook didn’t you – how was that?
J: It was such fun! Everyone was just lovely from the hairdresser to the client. I’ve just seen the pics, they’re great.
The collection launches on the 15th September
R: So do you think there’s market out there for models in their 40s?
J: I think so, yes. It’s definitely harder when you’re older. There are fewer clients I suppose so it’s harder getting the work, as I’m always told I’m too old for certain clients but look too young for others. But as I say it’s not about the money for me, I just love being back on shoots.
R: What modelling advice would you give my MTFers, other than not paying for rubbish portfolio pictures?
J: I’d probably say to just enjoy every minute. It might feel really hard work and hectic but it could all be over in 2-3 years – only the lucky ones get to go on working.
So true. Thank you, Jayne, for such an open and honest interview. And what a career! You certainly look every bit as beautiful as the permed 19 year old with impeccable bone structure that Select took on all those years ago.