Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Exclusive Interview - Aya Jones

The Fall/Winter 2015 collections unveiled a magnificent array of fresh modelling talent with a distinct focus on pure radiant beauty. Amongst the runway renegades to launch a high fashion assault was French newcomer Aya Jones whose classically beautiful features and doe-eyed expression had show-goers cooing in unison as she blitzed her way through a mammoth 47 show bookings. Scouted only a year ago on the Rue de Rivoli, Jones' ascent through modelling's ranks has been meteoric both on and off the runway. With a weighty nod of approval from casting director Ashley Brokaw, Jones blitzed a lightning trail during her debut season at the Paris Spring./Summer 2015 collections gracing the runways of Valentino, Miu Miu, Viktor & Rolf, Giambattista Valli, Nina Ricci, Sacai, and Maison Martin Margiela. Jones' fast-track to fashion's elite inner circle is unsurprising given her enchanting combination of jaw-dropping beauty, elegant 177 cm proportions, and the backing of a battalion of strategically-inclined agents at the Lions NY, Oui Management, and Monster Management.

In the aftermath of the Fall/Winter 2015 shows, Jones' flawless caramel complexion, spectacular pout, and emotive puppy dog brown eyes have been captured by industry heavyweights from Steven Meisel, Peter Lindbergh, Craig McDean, Daniel Jackson, Luigi & Iango, Karim Sadli, and Harley Weir for the most blue chip publications and clients. A plum spot in Prada's Pre-Fall 2015 campaign and multiple appearances in American Vogue signal the arrival of a bonafide star in the making. IMA caught up exclusively with Jones in between castings, go-sees, and ultra-exclusive modelling assignments to chat about her bi-racial roots, her thrilling debut at Prada, the modelling icons she admires most, and why patience is a virtue.

Aya Jones
Photographer - Paul Morel
Source - thefashionspot.com


Inoubliable Model Army (IMA): Hi Aya, thanks for chatting with IMA! Congratulations on a stellar Fall/Winter 2015 show season with 47 shows booked. How are you feeling now that you've had time to decompress from the shows and to realise the full extent of your Fashion Week achievements?
Aya Jones (AJ): Thank you for inviting me to take part! I feel really excited, it was like a dream come true. I still can't believe it happened to me and I hope that the best is still coming!

IMA: As a relatively new face to modelling, would you mind sharing your backstory with IMA's readers?
AJ: I'm 21 years old and French, but my father is from the Ivory Coast in Africa. I was discovered on the Rue de Rivoli in Paris by a scout, and then I began doing tests.

IMA: During your debut season at the Spring/Summer 2015 collections, you appeared like a bolt out of the blue as an exclusive at Prada in Milan. Describe the process that was involved for the Prada casting and when did you find out that you had been confirmed for the show?
AJ: At the beginning my agency, The Lions sent a few pictures of me to Ashley Brokaw, the casting director of Prada. I met her twice and then went to Milan to see Mrs. Prada. I walked and tried on clothes for her. The day after I was confirmed as an exclusive for the show!

IMA: Your exclusive debut at Prada set the wheels in motion for an epic Paris Fashion Week with turns on the runway at Miu Miu, Viktor & Rolf, Valentino, Giambattista Valli, Nina Ricci, Sacai and Paco Rabane amongst others. Were the shows a complete blur or are there any defining moments either on or off the runway which standout in hindsight?
AJ: The whole of Fashion Week was a great experience, a whirl of colour, texture, sounds, feelings... But Prada was the most exciting. It was my first show, my heart was beating very hard.

Prada - F/W 2015
Photographer - Monica Feudi
Source - style.com

Oscar de la Renta - F/W 2015
Photographer - Yannis Vlamos
Source - style.com

Missoni - F/W 2015
Photographer - Marcus Tondo
Source - style.com


IMA: The month long fashion frenzy is a real test of mental and physical stamina. How did you prepare in the lead up for the shows and what has been the most sage advice that you received from your agents that helped you throughout the shows?
AJ: First I tried to have a healthy lifestyle. Doing sports, eating well, and sleeping a lot. And of course my family's encouragement was really important for me. And to remember that whatever happens to always be strong and professiona, no matter how long the hours, or the height of the heels... never give up and to stay strong!

IMA: The casting process for shows can be particularly intimidating for newcomers with so many beautiful girls vying for limited runway slots. What was your approach heading into castings and what advice would you offer to make a positive impression at castings?
AJ: I'm someone quite peaceful and relaxed. Of course casting can become a bit stressful, but it is a good stress. Patience is very important in this business and it is important to always be available, and to let the designers and casting directors know that they can count on me.

IMA: Did you have an interest in modelling prior to being discovered and are there any key modelling figures who you admire?
AJ: I never thought about it before I was scouted. I admire Veruschka as a woman and as a model. She changed fashion and was the first supermodel of the 60s. I also admire Naomi Campbell, for all that she has done with her charity work. 

IMA: A model's fashion sensibility is an important part of her overall package when presenting to clients and also off-duty with the rising influence of street style photographers and bloggers. How would you describe your street style and what are your current fashion must-haves?
AJ: I'm quite simple and I love basic items. There's nothing better than jeans and a white tee-shirt.

Aya Jones
T Magazine - S/S 2015
Photographer - Karim Sadli
Source - models.com

French Numéro - May 2015
Photographer - Daniel Sannwald
Source - models.com

i-D Magazine - S/S 2015
Photographer - Harley Weir
Source - thefashionspot.com

Binx Walton & Aya Jones
Vogue Japan - April 2015
Photographer - Luigi & Iango
Source - thefashionspot.com


IMA: Diversity in modelling has been a contentious topic over the past few seasons. Did you notice diversity on fashion's runways this season and how important is it to you to see diversity reflected in fashion and the media?
AJ: Diversity is part of our world and I think that it's important that fashion, as well as other businesses, reflect that. But it's true that diversity has been a contentious subject for a long time. I do see diversity on runways but more would be even better.

IMA: Modelling at times can feel like a 24/7 existence. How do you unwind outside of work and what are your keen interests and passions beyond modelling/fashion?
AJ: I love cooking, especially African food. My father is a really good cook, he owns a restaurant in Paris which specialises in cuisine from the Ivory Coast. I love cooking with him!
I also discovered yoga and kick boxing a few months ago, it helps me to find a balance, feeling less pressure.

IMA: Your recent editorial bookings for American Vogue with Peter Lindbergh featuring a stunning cast of black models has been one of the most buzzed about shoots this year. What was it like shooting with such an industry legend and what were you most memorable moment of the shoot?
AJ: This shoot will remain unforgettable because of the team. Peter is so nice and always smiling. He likes to laugh, and especially with Grace Coddington. So the atmosphere was cheerful. The other girls and I amused ourselves with a dance between each break. We also had fun in the ATV in the mountains and the beautiful desert landscape. 

Aya Jones
American Vogue - March 2015
Photographer - Peter Lindbergh
Source - thefashionspot.com

Aya Jones, Lineisy Montero, & Imaan Hammam
Teen Vogue - August 2015
Photographer - Daniel Jackson
Source - models.com

Aya Jones & Artur Chruszcz
Prada Campaign - Pre-Fall 2015
Photographer - Steven Meisel
Source - thefashionspot.com


IMA: An appearance in a Prada campaign is considered the pinnacle of a model's career not to mention shooting with Steven Meisel! How did your Prada Pre-Fall campaign come about and are you still pinching yourself when you see your campaign images?
AJ: It was an incredible opportunity to have worked with Steven Meisel on this Prada campaign. I still have stars in my eyes, especially when I see the pictures or videos displayed in the store fronts - so luxurious.

IMA: One of the most enjoyable aspects of Fashion Week is the camaraderie backstage between the models. Did you find time to bond with other girls in between castings, round the clock fittings, and the backstage madness?
AJ: Everything is still a bit new for me but it is very nice to meet girls on shoots and backstage and to have a bit of fun before the shows and to meet up with them on our free time.

IMA: What do you enjoy most about modelling and what are your long-term modelling aspirations?
AJ: Hard question... maybe meeting all of the people; stylists, designers and photographers and learning about their universe. It's really inspiring. My long-term aspiration would be shooting with even more artistic photographers and of course being part of some campaigns.

IMA: What makes you "Inoubliable" (Unforgettable)?
AJ: I do feel memorable when a designer asks me to try something and says "that's perfect on her".

Inoubliable - Aya Jones
Image property of Inoubliable Model Army

Special thanks to Alvin Fung at the Lions NY. For more information on the Lions NY, please log onto www.thelionsny.com and follow Aya Jones on Instagram - https://instagram.com/iamayajones

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